Alan Turing? Arthur Eddington? Andrew Hodges? Robin Gandy? John D. Barrow? Dermot Turing? Apocryphal?
Reply from Quote Investigator: In 1983 British mathematician Andrew Hodges published a biography titled “Alan Turing: The Enigma”. Hodges stated that in March 1954 Alan Turing sent four postcards to his friend and colleague Robin Gandy. The second postcard (partially shown below) contained the following lines. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:1984 (1983 Copyright), Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges, Chapter 8: On the Beach, Time Period: To 7 June 1954, Quote Page 512 to 514, A Touchstone Book: Simon & Schuster, New York. … Continue reading
Messages from the Unseen World
III. The Universe is the interior of the Light Cone of the Creation
IV. Science is a Differential Equation. Religion is a Boundary Condition.
The postcard also contained the following line written sideways in the left margin:
? Does the gravitation constant decrease ?
QI conjectures that Turing’s statement was an analogy. A differential equation may have many possible solutions. A boundary condition is an extra constraint that reduces the number of possible solutions and sometimes specifies a unique solution. The postcard statement suggested that there were many possible universes that were compatible with the latest scientific knowledge. Religious beliefs provided additional assumptions that further constrained the set of possible universes.
Additional detailed information is available in the Quote Investigator article on the Medium website which is available here.
Image Notes: A public domain mathematical figure from the 1877 book “A Treatise on Some New Geometrical Methods” by James Booth.
|↑1||1984 (1983 Copyright), Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges, Chapter 8: On the Beach, Time Period: To 7 June 1954, Quote Page 512 to 514, A Touchstone Book: Simon & Schuster, New York. (Verified with scans)|
|↑2||Website: The Turing Digital Archive, Images scanned from the collection of Turing papers held in the Archive Centre at King’s College, Cambridge, Website description: Website contains nearly 3,000 images of letters, photographs, newspaper articles, and unpublished papers by or about Alan Turing. (Accessed turingarchive.kings.cam.ac.uk on January 5, 2023) link|