Chapter 8: Implications for Everyday Systems

Section 1: Issues of Modelling

Models versus reality

Questions about the correspondence between models and reality have been much debated in the philosophy of science for many centuries, and were, for example, central to the disagreement between Galileo and the church in the early 1600s. Many successful models are in practice first introduced as convenient calculational devices, but later turn out to have a direct correspondence to reality. Two examples are planets orbiting the Sun, and quarks being constituents of particles. It remains to be seen whether such models as the imaginary time statistical mechanics formalism for quantum mechanics (see page 1061) turn out to have any direct correspondence to reality.

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From Stephen Wolfram: A New Kind of Science [citation]