The Royal Society;
Physics and Astronomy
I argue for a full mathematization of the physical theory, including its axioms, which must contain no physical primitives. In provocative words: 'physics from no physics'. Although this may seem an oxymoron, it is the royal road to keep complete logical coherence, hence falsifiability of the theory. For such a purely mathematical theory the physical connotation must pertain only the interpretation of the mathematics, ranging from the axioms to the final theorems. On the contrary, the postulates of the two current major physical theories either do not have physical interpretation (as for von Neumann's axioms for quantum theory), or contain physical primitives as 'clock', 'rigid rod', 'force', 'inertial mass' (as for special relativity and mechanics). A purely mathematical theory as proposed here, though with limited (but relentlessly growing) domain of applicability, will have the eternal validity of mathematical truth. It will be a theory on which natural sciences can firmly rely. Such kind of theory is what I consider to be the solution of the sixth Hilbert problem. I argue that a prototype example of such a mathematical theory is provided by the novel algorithmic paradigm for physics, as in the recent information-theoretical derivation of quantum theory and free quantum field theory.This article is part of the theme issue 'Hilbert's sixth problem'.