[FOM] proofs by contradiction in (classical?) Physics

Brian White white at math.stanford.edu
Mon Sep 19 02:39:51 EDT 2011

On Sep 18, 2011, at 12:41 PM, Fouche wrote:

> Can one use proofs by contradiction in Physics? And if it is possible, why they are so rare? Is there some intrinsical problem in proving a physical fact assuming its contrary? Is it "formally" correct, in the system we use to build physical models? Is the "tertium non datur" true in classical or quantum Physics?

When I was taught classical thermodynamics, a number of the proofs were by contradiction.
Also, don't physicists make statements like "X is impossible because it would violate Y"?

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