This is the context:

We cannot, however, be so flippant about asserting that space is discrete and not continuous. The world certainly does not look discrete. Movement has the feel of being continuous. Much of mathematical physics is based on calculus, which assumes that the real world is infinitely divisible. Outside of some quantum theory and Zeno, the continuous real numbers make a good model for the physical world. We build rockets and bridges using mathematics that assumes that the world is continuous. Let us not be so quick to abandon it.

Source: The Outer Limits of Reason: What Science, Mathematics, and Logic Cannot Tell Us By Noson S.Yanfosky

What is the meaning of "some" in this context? Does to mean "in some parts of"? If not, What?

  • It means "with the exception of". There are some things in quantum science which has discrete (some sort of breaks in between the relay) structure, and not continuous. Nov 17, 2020 at 20:42
  • It seems to mean "some quantum theory, but not all quantum theory."; maybe some formulations of quantum theory allow for a continuous universe. Nov 17, 2020 at 21:49

1 Answer 1


He means "some parts of quantum theory", in that (in his understanding) there are bits of quantum theory that deal with continuous quantities, and bits that deal with discrete quantities.

But note that the whole point of quantum theory is based on the concept that certain very important concepts in physics (e.g. energy, electric charge) are at root discrete.

That is, for example, every quantity of electric charge is made up of a whole number of an elementary unit charge, and it is impossible to get a value of electric charge which is a fractional value of this elementary unit (or "quantum") of charge.

However, these "quantum" valules are so vanishingly small that it is impossible to discern without sophisticated equipment, and so on the scale of everyday experience, reality just "looks" continuous.

As for Zeno, this sentence seems to indicate that the author doesn't have the slightest clue what he's blethering on about.

  • Good answer. +1. Can you please elaborate on "certain very important concepts in physics (e.g. energy, electric charge) are at root discrete"? I think I understand what you mean but a few more lines would give some more context helpful to folks who are not particularly physics-minded.
    – Eddie Kal
    Nov 17, 2020 at 23:54
  • @EddieKal What, like that? Nov 18, 2020 at 8:42
  • 1
    Perfect. Thanks.
    – Eddie Kal
    Nov 18, 2020 at 8:43

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