FOM: attitudes of core mathematicians and applied model theoriststoward f.o.m.
Stephen Fenner
fenner at cs.sc.edu
Thu Jan 27 17:47:34 EST 2000
On Thu, 27 Jan 2000, Mark Steiner wrote:
> >
> > This reminds me of something I heard the physicist Sheldon Glashow (a
> > close colleague of Weinberg's) say during a lecture at Harvard back in the
> > 80s. He was dismissing mathematicians' efforts to put quantum field
> > theory on a firm mathematical footing. He said, quite seriously,
> > "mathematics is the handmaiden of physics," and his other remarks
> > suggested that pure mathematical pursuits are not really interesting or
> > important, except when they arise from or relate to physics.
>
> ...
>
> About Weinberg, I should stress that, despite what he writes about
> philosophy, when writing books intended to raise money for high energy
> physics, what he does in his working hours has great philosophical
> interest, particularly his views on mathematics, which he seems to
> regard more as the Queen of the sciences rather than its handmaiden. He
> once wrote that the universe "is" an irreducible representation of a Lie
> group. That is, we have gone back to 3rd century Pythagoreanism. And
> he's "against" philosophy?
It's good that he shows a respect for Lie algebras and Lie groups, which
are both incredibly useful in physics. I wonder how he and Glashow would
view areas like number theory or computability, which don't have any
obvious connection with physics. [Glashow said this in the days before
public key cryptography was widely known.]
Stephen Fenner Phone: 803-777-2596
Computer Science Department FAX: 803-777-3767
University of South Carolina Email: fenner at cs.sc.edu
Columbia, SC 29208 USA Web: http://www.cs.sc.edu/~fenner
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