Princeton social physics
From circa 1945 to 1955, at the Princeton University Physics Department, American astrophysicist and engineer John Q. Stewart, ran a Rockefeller Foundation grant-funded social physics and social mechanics applied research group. [25]
In hmolscience, Princeton Department of Social Physics, or “Princeton social physics project” (Ѻ), or "social physics school", in demographics, or "Princeton school" in general, was a circa 1939 to 1955 social physics and social mechanics research group ran at the physics department of Princeton University, under the organization direction of American astrophysicist and engineer John Q. Stewart with $160,000 (modern-terms) grant funding from the Rockefeller Foundation (per approval [and later disapproval] of Warren Weaver).

The Princeton social physics project is well-summarized well by Princeton Alumni Weekly, in their 1955 “Social Physics” article on Stewart, as follows: [1]

“In the early phase of their efforts, Professor Stewart and his colleagues in this enterprise confined their efforts to mass human relationships. They treated large aggregates of individuals as though they were composed of social molecules, without attempting to analyze the behavior of each molecule. They then attempted to describe demographic, economic, political, and sociological situations in terms of such physical factors as time, distance, mass, and numbers of people.”


Social gravity
In 1939, American astrophysicist and engineer John Q. Stewart began working with various people on developing Newtonian-like social gravitation "population potential" diagrams and models, to gauge "demographic energy" as he called it. This seems to have been the precursor to his eventual “Princeton social physics project” as he called it, centered in various offices of Princeton University.

In 1950, John Q. Stewart gave the first public announcement of what seem to be the beginnings of his social physics group: [11]

“A notable little conference was held in Princeton October 12 and 13, 1949, with aid from The Rockefeller Foundation. Subjects included were mathematics, statistics, physics, astronomy, physiology, sociology, economics and marketing, philology, and history.”

In 1951, a Princeton Alumni Weekly excerpt, contained the following wherein Stewart announced that he had received a three-year Rockefeller foundation study grant: [1]

“As I am going to be the beneficiary of the class’s generosity in providing the Memorial Room, I want to at least mention the occasion to you. We are having a conference on social physics (I have a Rockefeller Foundation grant for three years for the study) March 29 and 30 and a number of participants will enjoy the room … At an early stage in planning the session on natural law, I found support and sympathy from two of the lawyers of the class, namely Ted Parsons and Dwight Sullivan.”

Princeton alumni Winthrop H. Battles commented on the conference:

“The conference included notables from other universities and organizations, many professors and associate professors from Princeton, and representatives from other institutions and organizations either associated with Princeton or in the Princeton area. Some undergraduates were also invited to participate. We were glad that we were able to provide the meeting place for this important occasion and that one of our class—John Q. in person—is such an active participant.”

The Princeton Alumni Weekly, that year, was beginning to describe Stewart as the “director of the University’s Social Physics Project”. [10]

One of American physicist Alan Lightman's 1992 set of homework problems / discussion questions was based on Princeton student Zachary Hatch's circa 1991 theory about the thermodynamics underpinnings of the the rise and fall of civilizations; ideas of which have been produced prior to him by Henry Adams and after him by Thomas Wallace. [13]
Research team
The Princeton social physics group was organized by American astrophysicist and engineer John Q. Stewart (1894-1972). Stewart, in spite of what has been referred to as the “gravest skepticism” on the part of some of his contemporaries, a theme common to this field (see, e.g., Elective Affinities (enemies), human thermodynamics (objectors), detractors, Libb Thims (attack), etc.), worked to assemble the following noted group of social and physical scientists: sociologist Stuart Dodd (1900-1975), known for his work in mathematical sociology and for articles such as his 1951 “Scientific Methods in Human Relations”, sociologist Raymond Bassett (1904-1956), chairman of the department of sociology at the University of New Hampshire, and physicist John Trimmer (1908-1983), noted for his 1955 "Measurement as a Human Activity", an attempt at making consciousness-measuring instruments,

Among Stewart's team, of interesting note, was the great physicist Percy Bridgman (1882-1961), one of the top ten thermodynamicists of the 20th century (known for exactingly and methodically-derived Bridgman equations of thermodynamics), who related to social physics was on of the more outspoken participants at the 1946 Harvard University "what is life—in terms of physics and chemistrydebate", wherein what has come to be known as the "Bridgman paradox" resulted, which has been summarized by French-born American physicist Leon Brillouin as follows: [4]

“How can we compute or even evaluate the entropy of a living being? In order to compute the entropy of a system, it is necessary to be able to create or to destroy it in a reversible way. We can think of no reversible process by which a living organism can be created or killed: both birth and death are irreversible processes. There is absolutely no way to define the change of entropy that takes place in an organism at the moment of death.”

Brillouin defined this as the so-called "paradox of Bridgman", about which we should, in modern terms, compare also American physical chemist Martin Goldstein's 1993 entropy of a mouse chapter subsection, which gives led into modern human free energy theories of human synthesis. [5]

Utility | Aim
The general aim of the Princeton social physics group seems to have been directed at the productive education of humanities students so that better decision "physical science" grounded decision making might result, whereby accordingly a more robust society might result. The following quote by Stuart might well capture this vision, particularly in regards to the education of future leaders, possibly in the same way that Alexander the Great was educated by Aristotle:

“Statesmen of this and other nations … have embarked upon grandiose undertakings where on physical grounds failure was predictable, and … failure meant that … people perished in vain.”


Departmental divide | Issues
In regards to the departmental divide issue (see: two cultures department), the following synopsis is quite telling: [1]

“[Stewart] has irritated the social scientists further by criticizing them for immaturity, lack of imagination and ‘doctrinaire departmentalism’. Overspecialization, he feels, is choking modern scholarship and limiting man’s communication with his fellows.”

Similarly, as French physicist Serge Galam, who has attempted a similar project in France, reports, in his 2004 “Sociophysics: a Personal Testimony”, such an effort is not without several decade's of resistance and opposition to the premise of a field in which a person is defined as an atom or a molecule, which comes from someone in France, the least religious country in the world. [9]

This is a problem that is ripe up to the present day, even between very close department, such as physics and chemical engineering, such as evidenced in the 2009 Moriarty-Thims debate on entropy being applicable or not applicable to student arrangements; or is evidenced more-so between the philosophy and anthropology department on thermodynamic questions applied to mind and life in regards to non-reductive materialism theories of emergence that bubbled to the point of legal action in the 2011 Juarrero-Deacon affair.
James MadisonJohn WitherspoonWoodrow WilsonChristopher Hirata (new)
James Madison (1751-1836)John Witherspoon (1723-1794)Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924)Christopher Hirata

Princeton social mechanics | Early history
Stewart commented in a 1955 interview that for thirty years, he had “harbored a deep-seated desire to find some order in the social sciences comparable to that in the physical sciences”, which dates his interest in social mechanics to 1925, which would have occurred a few years following his education at Princeton, having completed his BS in 1915 and and PhD in 1919 both at Princeton University.

Stewart also credits a number of Princeton alumni as having been prototype social physicists. The early history of social mechanics or social physics, depending on classification scheme, according to Stewart, dates as far back as 1769 when American political theorist James Madison (1751-1836), the so-called “father of the constitution” and America’s fourth president, was said to be studying a primitive form of social physics a Princeton. [6] Madison, as Stewart points out, was a student of Scottish-born American John Witherspoon (1723-1794) a signatory of the Declaration of Independence and 6th president of Princeton University, who in turn was a noted interpreter of the political philosophy of French theorist Charles Montesquieu, notable for his “hot climates” / “cold climates” theory of human behavior, who in turn had been deeply influenced by the celestial mechanics work of Isaac Newton. Stewart comments on this: [8]

“There can be no question of the fact that, in early Princeton, physics cooperated with politics in a sort of analogical double play, Newton to Witherspoon to Madison.”

Stewart supports this argument with the following quote from Witherspoon:

“The noble and eminent improvements in the natural philosophy, which have been made since the end of the last century, have been far from hurting the interests of religion; on the contrary, they have promoted it. Why should it not be the same with moral philosophy, which is indeed nothing else but the knowledge of human nature? … perhaps a time may come when men, treating moral philosophy as Newton and his successors have done natural, may arrive at greater precision.”

This quote, of course, brings to mind the 1808 "moral symbols" theory work of German polymath Johann Goethe, and also the 1789 "moral movement" theories of British philosopher John Stewart (no relation to John Q. Stewart). Stewart also credits Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924), another Princetonian, America’s 28th president, as being an early pioneering thinker in social physics/social mechanics, citing the following quote by Wilson in his writings on the Constitution: [6]

“[The checks and balances between Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court are] a sort of unconscious copy of the Newtonian theory of the universe [in which] every free body in the space of the heavens … is kept in its place … by the attraction of bodies that swing with equal order and precision about it.”


In 2005, American mathematician, astrophysicist, and former IQ: 225+ child prodigy Christopher Hirata, noted for his circa 2000 human chemical thermodynamics based article “Physics of Relationships”, written at age 17, consisting of five parts: (a) thermochemical approach to relationships, (b) complex equilibria of man and women, (c) reaction kinetics, (d) neutron scattering, and (e) shell model, completed his PhD at Princeton with a dissertation on “Weak Gravitational Lensing Theory and Data Analysis” at Princeton. [7] This approach by Hirata, however, goes beyond the simpler "social physics" that Stewart envisioned, the result of the fact that the knowledge tree has grown considerably, and as such Hirata's discernment is more inline with modern human thermodynamics, human chemistry, human physics encompassing "hmolscience."

University of Geneva (social mechanics)
Polish physical social economist Leon Winiarski, who for at least six years (1894-1900), at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, taught a course on political economics and social mechanics, based on the thermodynamics of Rudolf Clausius and the physics of Joseph Lagrange, was the first to pioneer the "two cultures" teaching method, as he explains (adjacent) at the 1900 Paris Expo on Social Science Education.
University of Geneva Department of Social Mechanics
Historically, the first university to run an actual social mechanics department and to teach courses on this subject was Polish economist Leon Winiarski’s 1894 to 1900s social mechanics school at the University of Geneva, such as he summarized in his 1990 Paris sociology convention report on "The Teaching of Pure Economics and Politics of Social Mechanisms in Switzerland" as follows: [3]

“Turning to the dynamic part of the problem, we gave a definition of social-biological energy in two forms: potential (hunger and love) and kinetic (economic, political, legal, moral, aesthetic, religious, and scientific). This led us to the principles of thermodynamics, including the third, the Clausius same time explains the progressive spiritualization any closed social aggregate to show a decrease in potential. This dissipation of entropy that occurs is the same in the social world as in the physical world.All this forms the subject of a course on social mechanics that we are giving under the title, ‘Economic Bases of Social Science,’ parallel with our course on pure political economy. In fact, the point of departure of our researches was, as we have shown, pure political economy, to which we refer all social science, and bring it all back to mechanics.”

Stewart, it seems, was aware of this previous department-founding work by Winiarski.

Two cultures department

See main: Two cultures department
American electrochemical engineer Libb Thims is currently working to found a "two cultures" American university department thematically similar to both the Winiarski University of Geneva Social Mechanics department and the Stewart Princeton University Social Physical department, albeit more encompassing, not strictly limited to a unification of sociology, economics, and physics, but also chemistry, engineering, and all of the humanities.

The following are related quotes:

“Immaturity, lack of imagination, 'doctrinaire departmentalism', and [in particular] overspecialization is choking modern scholarship and limiting man’s communication with his fellows.”
John Q. Stewart (1955), on the need for a social physics department, Princeton University [1]

See also
University of Chicago
University of California, Berkeley | Lewis school of thermodynamics

1. Staff. (1955). “Research in Progress: Social Physics”, Princeton Alumni Weekly, 55:17.
2. (a) Staff. (1955). “Research in Progress: Social Physics”, Princeton Alumni Weekly, 55:17.
(b) Stuart C. Dodd – Wikipedia.
(c) Dodd, Stuart C. (1951). "Scientific Methods in Human Relations," The American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Vol. 10, No. 3, April.
(d) Schmid, Calvin F. (1957). “Obituaries: Raymond E. Bassett, 1904-1956”, News and Announcements, American Sociological Reviews, 22(2):226.
(e) Trimmer, John D. (1955). “Measurement as a Human Activity” (abs), Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 60:829-35.
(f) Arunasalam, V. (1983). “Obituary: John D. Trimmer”, Physics Today, 36(3):83.
3. (a) Winiarsky, Leon. (1900). “L’enseignement de l’economie politique pure et de la mecanique sociale en Suisse” ("The Teaching of Pure Political Economics and Social Mechanics in Switzerland") (see: translation), Privat-Docet, University of Geneva; reprinted in: Le Premier congres de l’enseignement des Sciences Sociales: Comte rendu des séances et texte des memoirs publies par la Commssion permanente international de l’enseignement social (The First Congress of the Social Science Education: Count summary records and texts of memoirs published by the Commission permanent International Education office) (pgs. 341-46), 1901.
(b) Winiarski, Leon. (1900). “The Teaching of Pure Political Economy and Social Mechanics in Switzerland”, (pgs. 1497-1500), Sociology at the Paris Exposition of 1900. Government Printing Office.
4. Brillouin, Leon. (1949). “Life, Thermodynamics, and Cybernetics” (abs), American Scientist, Vol. 37, pgs. 554-68; In: Biology and Computation: a Physicist’s Choice (pgs. 37-51), by H. Gutfreudn and G. Toulouse. World Scientific, 1994; In: Maxwell’s Demon 2: Entropy, Classical and Quantum Information, Computing (pgs. 73-87), Harvey S. Leff, Andrew F. Rex. CRC Press, 2003.
5. Goldstein, Martin and Goldstein, Inge F. (1993). The Refrigerator and the Universe: Understanding the Laws of Energy (section: Entropy of a mouse, pgs. 297-99). Harvard University Press.
6. (a) Lear, John. (1957). “American Newsletter: The Laws of Social Relationship”, New Scientist, Jan 31.
(b) James Madison – Wikipedia.
(c) Woodrow Wilson – Wikipedia.
7. (a) Hirata, Christopher M. (c.2000). “The Physics of Relationships” (section: Fun),; WayBack Machine.
(b) Hirata, Christopher M. (2010). "The Physics of Relationships", Journal of Human Thermodynamics, 6(5): 62-76.
(c) Hirata, Christopher M. (2005). “Weak Gravitational Lensing Theory and Data Analysis”, thesis/dissertation. Princeton University, Department of Physics.
8. Staff. (1955). “Research in Progress: Social Physics”, Princeton Alumni Weekly, 55:17.
9. (a) Galam, Serge. (2004). “Sociophysics: a Personal Testimony”, Laboratory of Heterogeneous and Disorderly Environments, Paris.
(b) Galam, Serge. (2012). Sociophysics: A Physicist’s Modeling of Psycho-political Phenomena (§3.12 Claiming the Paternity of Sociophysics, pgs. 61-63). Springer.
10. Anon. (1951). “da Vinci Celebration” (pg. 6), Princeton Alumni Weekly, 52.
11. Stewart, John Q. (1950). “The Development of Social Physics” (abs), Invited paper before The American Association of Physics Teachers, Brinckerhoff Theater, Columbia University, Feb 3; in: American Journal of Physics, May 1950, 18: 239-53.
12. Battles, Winthrop H. (1951). “Jun 15th” (social physics, pg. 24), Princeton Alumni Weekly, 51:24-25.
13. Lightman, Alan. (2000). Great Ideas in Physics: the Conservation of Energy, the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the Theory of Relativity, and Quantum Mechanics (§: Conservation Laws and Human Freedom, pgs. 35-36; §: The Second Law Applied to Human Society, pgs. 110-114; Appendix B: Problems and Discussion Questions, pgs. 253-). McGraw-Hill.

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