FOM: Reverse math in physics

Joe Shipman shipman at
Wed Sep 15 17:18:37 EDT 1999

I said:

Hellman's two examples are taken from quantum
mechanics and general relativity, respectively, and it is the
combination of the two that gives trouble.

but would like to clarify that the mathematical problems already arise
when combining quantum mechanics with SPECIAL relativity; combining it
with GENERAL relativity is much harder still.  In my opinion, the
hundreds of physicists currently searching for a "Theory of Everything"
are greatly hindered by an inability to formulate a mathematically
consistent marriage of quantum mechanics and general relativity, and
their difficulties in doing this are partly due to their not
appreciating that the mathematical difficulties have not been properly
dealt with even in the case of Quantum Electrodynamics, the paradigmatic
"successful theory".

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