[FOM] Incompleteness and Physics
Vaughan Pratt
pratt at cs.stanford.edu
Sun Oct 19 17:34:09 EDT 2008
joeshipman at aol.com wrote:
> On the other hand, Godel Incompleteness also implies an influence of
> physics on mathematics -- as Godel pointed out, we might come to
> believe in new mathematical axioms because they made physics work. This
> will be the case if, according to some mathematized physical theory,
> there exists a definable but noncomputable real number that is
> measurable within the theory -- ZFC-proofs could only settle the value
> of finitely many bits of such a number, possibly fewer than can be
> measured.
Given that every finite set of natural numbers is representable in ZFC,
no matter how precisely one measures a given quantity there will always
be a ZFC sentence that can "account" for it.
If there is a notion of "physical theory" that rules out certain finite
subsets of N that as dyadic rationals can't be an approximation (to that
accuracy) of any fundamental constant of any physical theory, that would
be extremely interesting. If not, I have difficulty understanding what
it would mean to have a finite measurement outside the scope of all
ZFC-based theories.
Vaughan Pratt
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