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I first read the phrase "Turtles All the Way Down" in  a book by Stephen Hawking. According to the story, a bigname scientist was giving a lecture on astronomy. After the lecture, an elderly lady came up and told the scientist that he had it all wrong. 'The world is really a flat plate supported on the back of a giant tortoise." The scientist asked "And what is the turtle standing on?"

To which the lady triumphantly replied: "You're very clever, young man, but it's no use -- it's turtles all the way down."

 


I've asked several people what they think this story means, and everyone seems to have a slightly different take on it.

To me, it is a reminder that most scientific fact is really hypothesis that has not been disproven, and there is always the possibility that maybe the old lady is right.

Here are some web pages that have very little in common except that they include the phrase "Turtles all the way down."

 

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