[FOM] The Strong Free Will Theorem

Vaughan Pratt pratt at cs.stanford.edu
Wed Jan 28 18:48:07 EST 2009

Bill Taylor wrote:
> What we would further
> like, is an "explanation" of physics, which is in large part a visual,
> imaginative, word-based rather than equation-based, description of reality,
> (whatever reality is).
> Vaughan suggests that dispensing with the former, is incomprehensible
> as part of a view of science; and so it is.

I'm not sure what I said to leave that impression.  I had hoped that 
qualifying "all such models" with "having a mathematical character" 
would make it clear that I did not intend "model" to refer exclusively 
to mathematical models.

If pressed however I could accept that the more mathematical the content 
the more compelling the model.

What I find incomprehensible is not the nonmathematical but the 
comprehensive.  The very thought of describing the whole universe 
precisely, whether with cold hard mathematics or warm fuzzy imagery, 
raises too many questions to know where to begin.

Granted we have a more comprehensive view of our universe today than we 
did in the late 19th century when prominent physicists could claim

    "There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now.  All that
     remains is more and more precise measurement."  (Kelvin),


    "The more important fundamental laws and facts of physical
     science have all been discovered, and these are now so firmly
     established that the possibility of their ever being supplanted in
     consequence of new discoveries is exceedingly remote....
     Future discoveries must be looked for in the sixth place of
     decimals." (Michelson)


    "We are probably nearing the limit of all we can know about
     astronomy." (Newcomb)

120 years later, can we now claim to be closer to the ultimate picture? 
  Or is our situation like that of the pet goldfish released to an 
outdoor pond, who after a trip around it says, "I had no idea the 
universe was so big."

Vaughan Pratt

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