[FOM] Freeman Dyson on Inexhaustibility
charles silver
silver_1 at mindspring.com
Tue Apr 27 08:45:05 EDT 2004
The May 13 issue of the NY Rev. of Bks
contains an interesting article by Freeman
Dyson on string theory.
In support of his view opposing
Brian Greene's position, Dyson
writes (p. 19):
"Another reason why I believe science
to be inexhaustible is Godel's theorem.
The mathematician Kurt Godel discovered
and proved the theorem in 1931. The
theorem says that given any finite set of
rules for doing mathematics, there are
undecidable statements, mathematical
statements that cannot either be proved
or disproved by using these rules. Godel
gave examples of undecidable statements
that cannot be proved true or false using the
normal rules of logic and arithmetic. His
theorem implies that pure mathematics is
inexhaustible.... Now I claim that because
of Godel's theorem, physics is inexhaustible
too.... The theorem implies that even within
the domain of the basic equations of
physics, our knowledge will always be
incomplete."
Please note the dots indicating omissions.
Also please consult the entire article to
appreciate the context in which Dyson's
remarks were made.
Charlie Silver
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