Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Things I don't have time for: Golf, Religion ... pt. 3

For whatever reason, a name that kept showing up on my meme-dar was Kurt Godel. I had, at some point, stumbled on his incompleteness theorem(s) and was captivated. I remarked to Ray (only somewhat tongue in cheek) that I thought it was sort of obvious. Specifically his first incompleteness theorem really spoke to me.

A while back I had read The Trouble With Physics by Lee Smolin and enjoyed it a lot. The author starts out by stating the five unifications that are missing from the current standard model, and goes on to describe the, as yet unsuccessful, efforts to round that model out. Whenever I think of Godel's first theorem I often think of this book, and the folly of looking for a complete system to describe the world, and the asaninity of stating, exactly, what you don't know.

Just recently, since I had Godel on the brain, I decided to plow through Godel, Escher, Bach. I'm just in the very beginning (strange loops). At one point, the author describes the shock and consternation when it was put forth that there are actually multiple different geometries beyond just Euclidian. Not all that alarming, until you consider that the idea, and subsequent debate, happened in the 1930s!!!!

It was only after reading about these multiple geometries that it occurred to me that my critique, or disdain for the current state of theoretical physics was somewhat at odds with my newly fashioned rationalist point of view. As I mentioned earlier, I was already having trouble fully excising all the residual spiritual thoughts, and now I'm confronted with an apparent incompatibility with my shiny new system. Not good. I had just figured everything out for God's sake! :)

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