Friday Links

1. Mathematical proof by computer

I don’t fully understand why you’d want to verify the output of the programme and not just the code/reasoning behind it.

2. A computer mines the literature for mistakes

This seems great: a computational system that checks the scientific literature.

3. From the Oxford University Press, ladies and gentlemen, we have this insight into modern physics:

I am struck by the fact that treatises on particle physics never say what shape the particles have, and whether different kinds of particles might have different shapes. In diagrams they are usually depicted as spherical, but such a determination never plays a role in the theories of particles — unlike questions of charge and mass. Would it matter if an electron had a star shape?

Basic Structures of Reality by Colin McGinn

Sokal would be proud to publish there. Do read the full review in Mind [1], which summarises the book thus:

McGinn’s thesis, to repeat, is that our technical competence with physics ‘conceals vast chasms of ignorance’.

On the other hand, McGinn’s technical incompetence conceals nothing.

(h/t Anna Zielinska)

[1] Before you lump all the ignorant philosophers into one bag, note that this review is from a philosophy journal.

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