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HOME > PAST ISSUE > May-June 2016 > Article Detail

FEATURE ARTICLE

Paradoxes, Contradictions, and the Limits of Science

Many research results define boundaries of what cannot be known, predicted, or described. Classifying these limitations shows us the structure of science and reason.

Noson S. Yanofsky


2016-05YanofskyF1.jpgClick to Enlarge ImageScience and technology have always amazed us with their powers and ability to transform our world and our lives. However, many results, particularly over the past century or so, have demonstrated that there are limits to the abilities of science. Some of the most celebrated ideas in all of science, such as aspects of quantum mechanics and chaos theory, have implications for informing scientists about what cannot be done. Researchers have discovered boundaries beyond which science cannot go and, in a sense, science has found its limitations. Although these results are found in many different fields and areas of science, mathematics, and logic, they can be grouped and classified into four types of limitations. By closely examining these classifications and the way that these limitations are found, we can learn much about the very structure of science.


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