[FOM] Freeman Dyson on Inexhaustibility

charles silver silver_1 at mindspring.com
Tue Apr 27 08:45:05 EDT 2004

    The May 13 issue of the NY Rev. of Bks 
contains an interesting article by Freeman 
Dyson on string theory.  

   In support of his view opposing 
Brian Greene's position, Dyson 
writes (p. 19):

"Another reason why I believe science
to be inexhaustible is Godel's theorem.
The mathematician Kurt Godel discovered
and proved the theorem in 1931.  The
theorem says that given any finite set of
rules for doing mathematics, there are
undecidable statements, mathematical
statements that cannot either be proved 
or disproved by using these rules.  Godel
gave examples of undecidable statements
that cannot be proved true or false using the
normal rules of logic and arithmetic.  His
theorem implies that pure mathematics is
inexhaustible....  Now I claim that because
of Godel's theorem, physics is inexhaustible
too....  The theorem implies that even within
the domain of the basic equations of 
physics, our knowledge will always be 

    Please note the dots indicating omissions.
Also please consult the entire article to 
appreciate the context in which Dyson's 
remarks were made.

Charlie Silver

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