George Levy's moral is correct. George's encounter with his wife reminds me of a similar encounter with my wife.
I told her, "Some people feel that there is something rather than nothing because everything can be represented by strings of numbers, and numbers must exist. Do you think that numbers must exist?"
She thought about it for a moment then replied, "Yes."
I then asked, "Do you agree that this is a reason that something must exist?"
She replied, "We've had this discussion. The reason that something must exist is 'Because.' "
I have to admit that this seems as valid a reason as any other I've heard.
----- Original Message ----- From: "John M" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> To: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Sent: Monday, March 06, 2006 8:34 AM Subject: Re: Unprovable Physical Truths and Unwinnable Arguments
Thanks for this delightful story (..ies?) I met Chaitin once for a brief chat and did not like him: he was too sharp for me (though very friendly). His quoted idea is something I will keep to use against closed-minded physicists (or provide it to open-minded wifes of them).
--- George Levy <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
There is a great article entitled "The Limts of Reason" by Gregory Chaitin in the March Issue of Scientific American page 74. I quote:
"So perhaps mathematicians should not try to prove everything. Sometimes they should try to add new axioms. That is what you have got to do when you are faced with an irreducible fact..... Physicists are willing to add new principles, new scientific laws, to understand new domains of experience... "
This caused me to think about unprovable physical truths or impossible measurements. A simple one includes a nice reflective component: "What do you look like in the mirror with the eyes closed?"
I tried it on my wife when she was in a good mood. "Darling", I said, "did you ever think about what you look like in the mirror with your eyes closed?"
"I know what I look like," she said. "I can imagine it."
"Yeah, but you don't really know for sure."
"I can find out by taking a photograph of myself with my eyes closed, if I wanted to, but that would be a really stupid thing to do."
Ah ha! Now we are getting somewhere, I thought. Maybe I could squeeze in the concept of simultaneity a la Einstein. Then I turned to her and gave her the coup de grace, "Yeah but you won't know what you look like at the precise time you look in the mirror."
She looked at me straight in the eyes and said, "George, you are giving me a headache!"
The moral of the story is: Do not experiment or argue with your wife. You always come out the loser, even if you win.
George Levy Date: 3/3/2006
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