[FOM] Question about theoretical physics

Joe Shipman JoeShipman at aol.com
Tue Jul 2 14:35:20 EDT 2013

That's a good distinction, but what I said, and what Professor Neumaier said, and what Lubos Motl said, all apply to the most fundamental and canonical experiments of all, such as the measurements of the Lamb shift and the magnetic moment of the electron, so the issues I raise are unaffected by this point.

-- JS

Sent from my iPhone

On Jul 1, 2013, at 4:09 PM, "Timothy Y. Chow" <tchow at alum.mit.edu> wrote:

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.


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