FOM: Physics and Math; Gardner and Hersh JSHIPMAN at
Mon Nov 3 00:24:56 EST 1997

Although I tend to sympathize with Hersh and feel that Gardner's
criticism of him was confused, there's a key issue neither
addresses properly.  The old philosophers felt Euclid's
parallel postulate was "necessary" but would have admitted they
were wrong after reading Lobachevsky -- but could have also
been corrected by physics though historically they weren't.
Not all mathematics is logically prior to physics; as Godel saw
we could get new axioms from physics.  In my thesis (TAMS 10/90)
I showed some theories of Quantum Mechanics were independent of
ZFC, and in the '92 PhysComp Proc. discussed how a noncomputable
number might be measurable (to more digits than ZFC decides).-JS

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