Physicist, Startup Founder, Blogger, Dad

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Godel's theorems and Oliver Stone

Two audio suggestions to take your mind off the financial crisis -- at least until Asian markets open on Sunday :-)

An excellent 40 minute discussion of Godel's incompleteness theorems with two mathematicians (one a logician) and a theoretical physicist. If you know a bit about the subject the first 15 minutes or so are quite slow, but the last 20 minutes are well worth listening to. One of the discussants notes that the axioms of Euclidean geometry are not rich enough to be self-referential (unlike those of arithmetic), hence do not suffer from incompleteness. (Geometry is axiomatizable but not adequate to encode the syntax of proofs.)

Leonard Lopate interview (30 min) with Oliver Stone. Stone directed Wall Street, one of my favorite movies. (Too bad he's not doing the sequel Money Never Sleeps.) Few people know he was a classmate of George W. Bush's at Yale. The contrast could not be greater: Stone volunteered for combat duty in Vietnam, was wounded twice and won the Bronze heart and Purple Star. He also wrote the screenplays for Midnight Express (for which he won an Oscar) and Scarface ("say hello to my little friend!" :-). Stone's biopic of Bush, W, was done in collaboration with Stanley Weiser, his co-writer from Wall Street, and will open next week. At one point in the interview Stone comments that he doubts Greenspan, Paulson or any of the other leaders really understands what is happening in this crisis, due to the complexities of derivatives.


Fc said...

Uh, Bush volunteered to fly interceptors. Units operating the type of plane he was eventually assigned to, the F-102, were in fact sent to Vietnam.

And wasn't that supposed to have been a bad war anyway?

Outis said...

Brian DePalma was credited with directing "Scarface".

Steve Hsu said...

re: Scarface, thanks! I fixed it.

Dave Bacon said...

I've often wonder when was the first time, historically, that one could have found Godel's incompleteness theorem. At what point in history was there an axiomatic system rich enough to have exhibited incompleteness? Anyone?

Steve Hsu said...

Principia was written in 1910?

Dave Bacon said...

I think Charles Peirce (19th century) introduced second-order logic and so might have had some systems from which one could have gotten something close to Godel's incomplteness theorem.

Peirce, I think, was the first person to show a universal set of digital gates (though not thinking about machines) but never published it (it was with the NOR gate...sometimes called the Pierce arrow.) A remarkable man who is now largely forgotten, I think.

Anonymous said...

Pierce is certainly not forgotten by professional philosophers, although his work and influence lies largely in areas in which people outside of philosophy have limited interest. Karl Popper considered him one of the greatest thinkers in the history of philosophy.

Dave Bacon said...

certainly not forgotten by professional philosophers

Isn't that what I said? Sorry I couldn't resist! Really just joking!

jcsahnwaldt said...

The link to the Gödel program has changed. Here's the new URL:

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