Thursday, August 11, 2005

Departure lounge.

Well, we're off to Durango tomorrow for the weekend for weddings and whitewater rafting.

It's been an interesting few days: finally booked reservations for our honeymoon in October (Tahiti and Bora Bora); went to Nishino with Chris's grad school advisor and had an interesting conversation about the philosophy of science as applied to mathematics; mentally constructed a treatise on the nature of flirting. You know the routine.

On the philosophy of science/math thing: Steve suggested that what appear to be catastrophic paradigm shifts in one field are really the result of gradual progress in and cross-pollination with another. Of course he was talking about math and physics, and I think if you want to be honest about it that kind of relationship between these two really only goes in one direction: gradual progress in math rarely leads to paradigm shifts in physics, but gradual progress in physics can cause huge leaps in math. I wonder if this is because progress in physics is often the result of better tools, whereas progress in math is motivated by new observations in other fields that themselves result from better tools. The tools of math aren't changing as much as the tools of physics.

I wonder how much I can talk out of my ass about physics.

Chris and I talked later about the notion of math as a system of description -- in the same way that art might be a system of description, for instance -- for phenomena in the natural world. I don't know what to make of this, because the description part of math seems to enter into things with the properties of the axioms assumed rather than with the practice of math itself.

I wonder how much I can talk out of my ass about math.

I've been realizing lately that almost every interesting conversation that I've had in the last several months has been about internationalization in the software industry. That's only natural under the circumstances, but it feels like a problem.

On the nature of flirting: It's a pretty good treatise, but it'll have to wait until after my trip. :)


Blogger Erin said...

Kieran - you rock and I miss you! Come visit or else...well, I guess I don't have a good follow-up for that. Or else...I'll visit? I'll come out there and get you? weak!

I still miss you though.

6:45 AM  
Blogger D. said...

I'm not so sure about that -- I think there are some changes in math that are contributing to paradigm shifts in physics in some of the motion on things like "the landscape" and all.

Of course, one issue is that in the realms we are discussing the border between math and physics is far from a clear one. This was actually just being discussed the other day at my favorite anti-string-theory blog

It does sound like an interesting conversation, though.

9:02 AM  
Blogger Kieran Snyder said...

So, such as? Are the changes in math -- the ones that are causing what you believe are paradigm shifts in physics -- really gradual? Being involved with neither math nor physics, I need examples.

3:08 PM  

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