[FOM] Question about theoretical physics
Timothy Y. Chow
tchow at alum.mit.edu
Mon Jul 1 16:09:35 EDT 2013
Joe Shipman wrote:
> Physicists don't have in mind the same kind of theory that
> mathematicians do, and that's understandable. The reason I asked about
> this was that I felt that physicists ought to have, in any well-defined
> experimental situation, an algorithm to predict the experimental results
> to any desired precision, or at least to within a rigorous error term,
> if they were to claim any notion of correctness for their theory.
It's not clear to me that such an algorithm exists for *any* realistic
physical theory, let alone QED. You're using the "for all" quantifier for
"well-defined experimental situations," but my impression is that in the
real world, the correct quantifier is much closer to "there exists." It's
generally considered a big success if someone comes up with a new
experimental prediction and it gets verified.
Tim
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