Irregular Webcomic!

Archive     Blog     Cast     Forum     RSS     Books!     Poll Results     About     Search     Fan Art     Podcast     More Stuff     Random     Support on Patreon
New comics Mon-Fri; reruns Sat-Sun
<   No. 1068   2005-12-29   >

Comic #1068

1 {scene: A filthy starport docking bay. Piles of old crates and barrels and other junk litter the floor.}
1 Iki Piki: So here we are, searching a grimy starport docking bay for flakes of our ex-crewmate's skin. It's the bright future our parents always dreamed of...
2 Spanners: This place is filthy! Look at this decaying crate of mouldy old advertising fliers.
3 Spanners: "A proof that all consistent axiomatic formulations of number theory include undecidable propositions ... which also offers firm slimming control?"
4 Iki Piki: What product is that for?
4 Spanners: "I Can't Believe it's a Gödel!"

First (1) | Previous (1067) | Next (1069) || Latest Rerun (2592) | Latest New (5201)
First 5 | Previous 5 | Next 5 | Latest 5
Space theme: First | Previous | Next | Latest || First 5 | Previous 5 | Next 5 | Latest 5
This strip's permanent URL:
Annotations off: turn on
Annotations on: turn off

Kurt Gödel (pronounced with a vowel sound identical to the one in "girdle") was a mathematician who formulated an important result in formal logic known as Gödel's incompleteness theorem.

The basic gist of the theorem is that for any self-consistent set of rules for doing mathematics (i.e. a set of mathematical rules that doesn't produce contradictions), there will always be mathematical statements that are true, but that cannot be proven to be true.

If you've never come across this before, that may take a minute to grasp. And it may sound ridiculous. But nevertheless, it's true, and the odd thing is that you can prove that this theorem is true.

I'll give you another minute.

Also, not only does Gödel's theorem apply just to mathematics, but also to any self-consistent field of analysis or deduction. Given that the universe is (probably) consistent and non-paradoxical, it's possible (though controversial) to extrapolate this to the result that some things about the universe are true, but there is no way of proving they are true, no matter how hard we try.

What this implies about the pursuit of knowledge and the nature of reality, I leave as an exercise for the reader.

If you want to learn more about Gödel's theorem, I highly recommend the mind-expanding book Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter.

2015-03-28 Rerun commentary: I talk about Gödel's incompleteness theorem a bit more, later on, in the annotation to strip #1845. But I stop short of trying to prove it, as I'm not 100% sure I completely follow the proofs of it which I've seen. At least, certainly not to the point where I can describe them to others. This is one of those things where I have to trust that the mathematicians who do this stuff know what they're doing.

I like that a starport has wooden crates lying around.

LEGO® is a registered trademark of the LEGO Group of companies, which does not sponsor, authorise, or endorse this site.
This material is presented in accordance with the LEGO® Fair Play Guidelines.

My comics: Irregular Webcomic! | Darths & Droids | Eavesdropper | Planet of Hats | The Dinosaur Whiteboard | mezzacotta
My blogs: (daily updates) | 100 Proofs that the Earth is a Globe (science!) | Carpe DMM (long form posts) | Snot Block & Roll (food reviews)
More comics I host: The Prisoner of Monty Hall | Lightning Made of Owls | Square Root of Minus Garfield | iToons | Comments on a Postcard | Awkward Fumbles
Last Modified: Saturday, 28 March 2015; 03:11:13 PST.
© 2002-2024 Creative Commons License
This work is copyright and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International Licence by David Morgan-Mar.