GRE Reading Comprehension

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Source: CHP

Since science tries to deal with reality, even the most precise sciences normally work with more or less imperfectly understood approximations toward which scientists must maintain an appropriate skepticism. Thus, for instance, it may come as a shock to mathematicians to learn that the Schrodinger equation for the hydrogen atom is not a literally correct description of this atom, but only an approximation to a somewhat more correct equation taking account of spin, magnetic dipole, and relativistic effects; and that this corrected equation is itself only an imperfect approximation to an infinite set of quantum field-theoretical equations. Physicists, looking at the original Schrodinger equation, learn to sense in it the presence of many invisible terms in addition to the differential terms visible, and this sense inspires an entirely appropriate disregard for the purely technical features of the equation. This very healthy skepticism is foreign to the mathematical approach. Mathematics must deal with well-defined situations. Thus, mathematicians depend on an intellectual effort outside of mathematics for the crucial specification of the approximation that mathematics is to take literally.

Question List: 1 2

According to the passage, scientists are skeptical toward their equations because scientists

  • A work to explain real, rather than theoretical or simplified, situations
  • B know that well-defined problems are often the most difficult to solve
  • C are unable to express their data in terms of multiple variables
  • D are unwilling to relax the axioms they have developed
  • E are unable to accept mathematical explanations of natural phenomena

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