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TOPIC: Essay Contest 2012: Questioning the Foundations [refresh]
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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster wrote on May. 24, 2012 @ 16:10 GMT
It is time once again for the FQXi Essay Contest! Past years, we have asked you to debate the nature of time, what is ultimately possible in physics, and whether reality is ultimately digital or analog. This year we want to know:

Which of our basic physical assumptions are wrong?

What assumptions are ripe for rethinking? Looking back over the history of physics we can identify a number of places where thinkers were "stuck" and had to let go of some cherished assumptions to make progress. Often this was forced by experiment, an internal inconsistency in accepted physics, or simply a particular philosophical intuition. What are the tacit or explicit assumptions we are making now that are ripe for re-thinking?

The contest is open for entries starting now, and until 11:59 PM Eastern Time, August 31, 2012. Winners will be announced by December 7, 2012. The contest structure will be similar to previous years. Please read the rules and regulations carefully if you plan to enter. As always, the contest is open to everyone, regardless of background.

As in previous contests, we will post all official entries in our forums, which will open after we have received our first ten or so entries. Please join us in the forums to read, discuss, and vote whether you enter or not. And please help us spread the word.

We want to thank our partners and sponsors for helping us bring this contest to you. Much thanks to the Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation. And to Submeta. Please take a moment to visit the sites of both these organizations, committed to advancing basic research in physics and other fields. And thanks to our media partner Scientific American. When you need a break from reading essays, you'll find plenty more there to absorb you.

Please tell your colleagues and your friends. Happy writing, and happy reading!

this post has been edited by the forum administrator

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Armin Nikkhah Shirazi wrote on May. 24, 2012 @ 17:00 GMT
What a pleasant surprise! I really like this topic, and I hope that a lot of people will participate (I certainly will). I think that this question is especially well suited to ask in relation to our understanding of what quantum mechanics means.

Briefly, I believe quantum mechanics is basically correct (i.e. I do not believe in hidden variables etc.), however understanding it properly may require us to modify some fundamental assumptions that at first seem only remotely related to the theory proper. In particular, I believe that our current notion of 'existence' is too crude in a somewhat similar way in which our understanding of 'time' pre-relativity turned out to be too crude.

Incidentally, there is a going to be a conference in Växjö, Sweden called Quantum Theory:Reconsideration of foundations-6, which takes place June 11th to June 15th, which seems closely related to this essay topic. As I understand it, attempts to identify assumptions which could be questioned and fresh ideas that could help us better understand how to interpret the mathematical formalism.

I look forward to the entries by the participants. Thanks fqxi for putting up the new contest.

Armin

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Jun. 4, 2012 @ 20:06 GMT
Hi Armin -- Our pleasure. We're looking forward to some good reading.

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Edwin Eugene Klingman replied on Aug. 11, 2012 @ 08:14 GMT
Dear Brendan Foster,

There's still a few weeks to go, but some fantastic essays have already been received. I think that FQXi's choice of topic was inspired. This is shaping up to be the best contest yet.

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on May. 24, 2012 @ 21:10 GMT
Dear Brendan Foster

Thanks for announcing the new topic. I too think it is a good topic, although I would not want the task of finding qualified judges who will be willing to go that far out on a limb. Good luck with that, and thanks again.

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Alan Lowey replied on Jun. 3, 2012 @ 14:19 GMT
Yes, I agree. Thank you for the excellent topic choice of the latest competition Brendon. It's important enough to influence the evolution of human science into a new mega-era imo. I've just working on the title, which compliments my last essay entry:

"Newton's Isotropy Is Simplicity That Has Led To Modern Day Mass Misconceptions Of Reality"

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Jun. 4, 2012 @ 20:09 GMT
No problem, it's our pleasure, here's to some good reads.

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Pentcho Valev wrote on May. 25, 2012 @ 07:36 GMT
Einstein's 1905 light postulate is certainly wrong but I am going to show that the second law of thermodynamics deserves no more credibility:

http://www.kostic.niu.edu/2ndLaw/2011SecondLaw-f
rontmatter.pdf

AIP Conference Proceedings, Volume 1411, Second Law of Thermodynamics: Status and Challenges, San Diego, California, USA 14-15 June 2011: "No physical principle holds greater sway in the natural world than the second law of thermodynamics. It is widely regarded as the quintessential scientific truth, in large part because no exception to it has been recognized by the scientific community during its 150-year history. Over the last 20 years, however, this situation has changed. More than two dozen challenges to it have entered the mainstream scientific literature, the majority of which remain unresolved. (...) Competitions are most exciting when the stakes are high and the competitors evenly matched. After 150 years of preeminence, the second law finds itself in such a contest, where challenges have put its absolute status at risk. The outcome is uncertain, but for the first time it plays in an 'evenly split game.' That is, the second law is in a jeu parti: it is in jeopardy."

The problem may turn out to be sociological, not strictly scientific - our civilization may not be able to survive such a massive surgery, even though malignant tissues are removed.

Pentcho Valev pvalev@yahoo.com

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Paul Reed replied on May. 25, 2012 @ 09:41 GMT
Pentcho

Since when has light (as in an effect in photons) 1) not started at the same speed in all circumstances, ie irrespective of the speed of that which the photons interracted with - because it is the result of the same atomic reaction, & 2) not continued to travel at that speed unless impinged upon in some way - just like anything else would?

That is all he said in 1905 (always same speed & continue at that speed in vaccuo), and it is, obviously, correct

Paul

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Pentcho Valev replied on May. 25, 2012 @ 14:03 GMT
Einstein said more in 1905:

http://www.fourmilab.ch/etexts/einstein/specrel/www/

"..
.light is always propagated in empty space with a definite velocity c which is INDEPENDENT OF THE STATE OF MOTION OF THE EMITTING BODY."

This means that, if the emitting body starts moving towards the observer with speed v (c>>v), the frequency the observer measures shifts from f to f'=f(1+v/c) but the speed of light the observer measures does not shift at all: c'=c. This is wrong - the frequency does indeed shift from f to f'=f(1+v/c) but the speed of light also shifts: from c to c'=f'(lambda)=f'(c/f)=c+v.

Pentcho Valev pvalev@yahoo.com

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Paul Reed replied on May. 26, 2012 @ 07:19 GMT
Pentcho

He did not say "more". What I said is all in the sentence you have quoted. In which, Einstein makes two simple, and correct, points about light: 1) the speed it travels at is independent of the 'emitting body' 2) that speed will remain constant unless impinged upon.

You then make an ontologically incorrect interpretation of this. Because the 'light' (as in a specific effectct in photons)is a physically existent phenomenon. Furthermore, at different points in time there are more such physically existent phenomenon. Each 'light' represents the 'thing' (emitting body) which at these different points in time is itself in different existent states (one form of change being spatial position, ie movement). All these are different physically existent phenomena. You conflate them.

To identify what actually happened you would have to establish the spatial position of the body wrt the observer at any given point in time, and that position as at the point in time when the observer received the specific 'light' created by an interaction with the body at the original point in time (ie to establish, whether during the travel of that 'light' from body to observer the relative spatial position of these two entities altered. You would also need to know the environmental conditions that prevailed for that 'light'(ie whether there was anything that impinged upon its original starting speed). The speed of the body is irrelevant, both at the time (because the original speed of the 'light' is determined by an atomic reaction not 'collision')and subsequently (because those are each different existent states of the 'body' and there will be different 'lights' created which represents those).

Light is just a physically existent phenomenon, it is not mysterious, or functions in accordance with different rules to everything else. It is created and travels, and during that travel it can be affected by environmental conditions. Calibrating its speed is effected the same way as for any other entity. It just so happens that we use 'light' to see reality.

Paul

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Steve Dufourny wrote on May. 25, 2012 @ 11:11 GMT
interesting.Let's go for the crazzyness....

We are going to see that Johan Noldus is in the extradimension of the witten axiomatization of the perimeter gruber institute, Joy and lisi have a string in their hands for the harmonization of the TH correlations of mathematical real algebras. After we shall see that Brendan and friends shall prove that the vanity is in 3D. Now we have Fred ,Richard and Mr Aguire who insist on a kind of marketization of the algebras in their pure dimensionality. After we shall have a conference in Holland, there a little of marijuana, and after hop a MIT Harvard synchronization for a good algorythmic serie. Eckard, Georgina and friends, them are in the circus, but are they real.

The essay of this year is about "how can be the future for a correct cake? "

:) but what a world.

viva el crazzyness, it is the begining of the wisdom after all, isn't it ? Do you know that Rousseau had said to Hugo that the world is very bizare due to an ocean of chaotical parameters. Herman Hesse, him is sad that Voltaire and micromegas are not with us. But if Kalil Gibran and Jung are rational, and if Ostrogradsky is in a stoke correlation, so the story is spherical , it is logic no?

Sphericaly yours of course in 3D !!! for our contemplations of course !Siddartha Gottam will agree ...isn't it ?

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Don Limuti wrote on May. 26, 2012 @ 03:10 GMT
Brendan this is the best topic yet!

There will be a lot of entries.

And a most lively debate.

Congratulations

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Steve Dufourny replied on May. 29, 2012 @ 15:36 GMT
Hi Don,

Wait ....I have a good topic, why the sphere is the perfect equilibrium of forces ?

of why the spheres are foundamentals ?

why the spherization Theory is the only universal solution ?

:)

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Don Limuti replied on May. 30, 2012 @ 05:39 GMT
Hi Steve,

I have noticed that you have been mixing it up with the other "sphere heads"...

I would have not expected less. Thanks for keeping this place lively.

I hope to have a block buster entry (I say that every contest) and I hope you will have

a super entry also. Perhaps something like:

There Is Something Profoundly Wrong with the Point--- it Should be a Sphere.

Good to hear from you,

Don L.

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Steve Dufourny replied on May. 30, 2012 @ 22:29 GMT
hi Don, interesting play. I am not parano , it is god who said me this simple evidence.

Thanks for" good to hear from you" it is nice.

The sphere indeed is better than the point, furthermore , here is the entanglement with its pure number with the central volume, you see the serie Don when the fractal is considered, the ultim fractal of course, of spheres from the main central sphere. So the point can have several volumes when we consider this entanglement, so that depends of the number, isn't it ? :)

How can we consider the points so ? it depends of many things, in all case the spheres have several volumes. so ......... these points are composed by spheres after all ! now if a limit like a wall is considered or this number, that becomes relevant considering the finite groups and the walls !

This entropy can be understood with a more important rationalism at my humble opinion. If we arrive to know this number of this entanglement, so we have the universal fractal and its spheres.With the central sphere like the biggest volume.Now we have a paradoxal conceptulization of the point spherificated if I can say.So , that implies that we have a central sphere more far of the perception of smallest spheres of this entanglement !!! It is very important for a correct understanding of this entraopy and its distribution.

The point does not exist, the sphere and the spheres , yes, the rotations show the road of the spherization.

You know Din, I know that my pc is checked, but you know my faith is so important that even very sad and tired by a difficult life, I will continue !

My parano and problem of health are important but my universal faith is enormous !The spherization is the message of the Universe, several religions name it, God, if you prefer Don, the sciences ar not a play you know but a pure sincere quest towards our truths and foundamentals , rational !

The sphere , Don , is an answer to many things and all rational generalists understand this evidence, this universal Sphere evolves and the quantum spheres build cosmological spheres in a pure 3D perception. This Universal sphere is so fascinating, you imagine the number of lifes and creations inside this universal sphere? It is fascinating and the word is weak. It exists so many planets with lifes , so many galaxies with lifes, even in our milky way, it exists so many lifes I am persuaded. You imagine inside this universal sphere with all the galaxies, it is incredible. And the quantum world is also fascinating. With velocities and volumes different of course but the system is universaly the same. That is why the universal sphere does not turn in my line of reasoning.

Don, not you, you are not in this team of frustrated I hope, I know that I am parano, but not you ? Why ? I ask me even if eckard or Georgina or the otehrs are real or not ?

But I take my meds :)

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Yuri Danoyan wrote on May. 26, 2012 @ 15:20 GMT
In the last century Warren McCulloch wrote:

''As I see what we need first and foremost is not correct theory,but some

theory to start from,whereby we may hope to ask a question so that we will

get an answer,if only to the effect that our notion was entirely

erroneous.Most of the time we never even get around to asking the question

in such a form that it can have an answer."



This statement is fully applicable to the topic of Essay Contest 2012.

I do not intend to participate in this competition,but would be read with great interest the essay "Gravity as a force of interaction is wrong assumption?"

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Pentcho Valev replied on May. 26, 2012 @ 15:52 GMT
Starting with a false theory is dangerous. If it introduces breathtaking miracles (length contraction, time dilation) it may become a religion and kill science in the end. Einstein realised this in 1954:

http://www.perimeterinstitute.ca/pdf/files/975547d7-2d0
0-433a-b7e3-4a09145525ca.pdf

Albert Einstein (1954): "I consider it entirely possible that physics cannot be based upon the field concept, that is on continuous structures. Then nothing will remain of my whole castle in the air, including the theory of gravitation, but also nothing of the rest of contemporary physics."

Clues:

http://arxiv.org/ftp/physics/papers/0101/0101109.pdf

"The two first articles (January and March) establish clearly a discontinuous structure of matter and light. The standard look of Einstein's SR is, on the contrary, essentially based on the continuous conception of the field."

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/einstein/genius/

"And then, in June, Einstein completes special relativity, which adds a twist to the story: Einstein's March paper treated light as particles, but special relativity sees light as a continuous field of waves."

http://www.amazon.com/Relativity-Its-Roots-Banesh-Hoffmann/d
p/0486406768

Relativity and Its Roots, Banesh Hoffmann: "Moreover, if light consists of particles, as Einstein had suggested in his paper submitted just thirteen weeks before this one, the second principle seems absurd: A stone thrown from a speeding train can do far more damage than one thrown from a train at rest; the speed of the particle is not independent of the motion of the object emitting it. And if we take light to consist of particles and assume that these particles obey Newton's laws, they will conform to Newtonian relativity and thus automatically account for the null result of the Michelson-Morley experiment without recourse to contracting lengths, local time, or Lorentz transformations. Yet, as we have seen, Einstein resisted the temptation to account for the null result in terms of particles of light and simple, familiar Newtonian ideas, and introduced as his second postulate something that was more or less obvious when thought of in terms of waves in an ether."

Pentcho Valev pvalev@yahoo.com

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T H Ray replied on May. 26, 2012 @ 16:44 GMT
"Starting with a false theory is dangerous. If it introduces breathtaking miracles (length contraction, time dilation) ..."

If you had actually studied relativity, Pentcho, you would know that these effects are measurements relative to the observer's state of motion, and not miracles. You consider them "miracles" because you do not understand the absence of a privileged frame of reference.

Tom

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Pentcho Valev replied on May. 26, 2012 @ 17:14 GMT
Yes length contraction and time dilation are "measurements relative to the observer's state of motion" predicted on the assumption that the speed of light is independent of the speed of the light source. But some implications could prove absurd, and then the assumption is false (provided all other assumptions are true). In my view, the implication that an arbitrarily long object can be trapped inside an arbitrarily short container is absurd:

http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/Relativity/SR/b
arn_pole.html

"These are the props. You own a barn, 40m long, with automatic doors at either end, that can be opened and closed simultaneously by a switch. You also have a pole, 80m long, which of course won't fit in the barn. (...) If it does not explode under the strain and it is sufficiently elastic it will come to rest and start to spring back to its natural shape but since it is too big for the barn the other end is now going to crash into the back door and the rod will be trapped IN A COMPRESSED STATE inside the barn."

http://www.quebecscience.qc.ca/Revolutions

Stéphane Durand: "Ainsi, une fusée de 100 m passant à toute vitesse dans un tunnel de 60 m pourrait être entièrement contenue dans ce tunnel pendant une fraction de seconde, durant laquelle il serait possible de fermer des portes aux deux bouts! La fusée est donc réellement plus courte. Pourtant, il n'y a PAS DE COMPRESSION matérielle ou physique de l'engin."

http://www.parabola.unsw.edu.au/vol35_no1/vol35_no1_2.pdf

"Suppose you want to fit a 20m pole into a 10m barn. (...) Hence in both frames of reference, the pole fits inside the barn (and will presumably shatter when the doors are closed)."

Pentcho Valev pvalev@yahoo.com

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Fred Diether wrote on May. 26, 2012 @ 22:42 GMT
Wow! This essay contest topic is a perfect match for Dr. Christian's work "On the Origins of Quantum Correlations". So much so that I highly suspect that his work motivated this topic. For far too long now there has been an almost religious belief that Quantum Mechanics is complete. But Dr. Christian's work has shown us that quite possibly Einstein was right after all. Dr. Christian's work coupled with Hestenes' work on the "Zitterbewegung Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics" gives a much better picture of Nature, IMHO.

Best,

Fred Diether

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Fred Diether replied on May. 27, 2012 @ 05:56 GMT
I suppose I should give some links to Dr. Christian's work. Perhaps it will inspire a good essay for the contest. Also a link for his new book.

I am wondering if I should do an essay on the combination of Dr. Christian's and Dr. Hestenes' work involving QM assumptions? Or should I do one on a wrong physics assumption that has been mainstream (but not thought about much) for over 100 years? No worries; it is not about relativity either.

Best,

Fred

PS. Another wow! The load time on this was quick. ;-)

this post has been edited by the author since its original submission

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Member Joy Christian replied on May. 27, 2012 @ 06:17 GMT
Hi Fred,

Thanks for providing the links to my work.

I think you should go for the second option. Here is your perfect opportunity to tell us about your real passion. Questioning a 100 year old assumption is exactly what this competition is all about!

Best,

Joy

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Fred Diether replied on May. 27, 2012 @ 06:42 GMT
Hi Joy,

You're welcome and thanks. OK then I will do the 100 year old assumption. I can actually mix in a bit of Hestenes' work and maybe some of yours into it anyways.

Best,

Fred

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Marcel-Marie LeBel wrote on May. 27, 2012 @ 04:28 GMT
Excellent non-topic! Under the skin (topical, you will get new ideas brewing in the underlying margin. The future is in asking and answering the questions of a child and in looking for his answers,not ours. Logical impossibilities are the certainties our truths are based on, as always. What are they...?

Marcel,

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Jayakar Johnson Joseph wrote on May. 27, 2012 @ 06:08 GMT
Really this is a good topic to be discussed and need of the hour.

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Jayakar Johnson Joseph wrote on May. 28, 2012 @ 15:08 GMT
If I have the description of an alternative cosmological model in a website and if I want to refer that in the body of the article I intent to submit for discussion, providing a hyperlink or website address in the article is permitted?.

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Anonymous replied on May. 28, 2012 @ 23:54 GMT
From my experience with a previous contest, valid hyperlinks are fine as references. Wikipedia links need to have to be followed by the current date (not in the link itself) since the entries are apt to change.

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Jun. 4, 2012 @ 20:42 GMT
Hi Jayakar -- thanks for your earlier comment about the contest. In response to your question, yes, you can [and should] include website addresses as references.

To do so, you must include proper information for any website, including wikipedia. Info includes website name and URL, and the date the website was last modified, or the date when you last visited the site to confirm the contents.

If available, you should also include any info about the author of the specific content you are referencing on the website.

Here's a link to examples from the Chicago Manual of Style, hosted by Purdue U: Web sources.

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Jayakar Johnson Joseph replied on Jun. 8, 2012 @ 17:18 GMT
Dear Brendan Foster,

Thank you for your guidance and I think this will help the article to emerge with more articulateness.

Wishing the contest be much productive

Jayakar

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Wilhelmus de Wilde wrote on May. 28, 2012 @ 15:58 GMT
Wow, the discussions about the fundamental thoughts on science has begun already in this thread. The subject of the contest is as fundamental as FXQi itself. That is why we will always have different arguments for our "visions". It will be a pleasure to particpate , it is for sure that the threads on the essays will be of the same high standard as here, we will have to accept that the "laws" of 2012 will be the failures of 2112.

Wilhelmus

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Jun. 4, 2012 @ 20:47 GMT
Thanks Wilhelmus, I look forward to some good discussions.

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Jayakar Johnson Joseph wrote on May. 29, 2012 @ 03:37 GMT
Thanks for all replies. I have reviewed my previous article and perceived that I have already used hyperlink.

I regret for this trivial question I have submitted, that might have disturbed you. I wish many entries and let this contest be a lively one.

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Lawrence B. Crowell wrote on May. 29, 2012 @ 21:14 GMT
Cristi & Tom,

I wrote at this post about degrees of freedom. This is a central aspect of physics, and indeed is at the core of the essay contest here. I think it is getting buried in the stack of over 60 hidden ones.

Cheers LC

post approved

Fred Diether replied on May. 30, 2012 @ 04:39 GMT
Lawrence said, "I will say that JC's "sign change" which reduces nonlocal variables to local ones does the opposite. JC is tacitly increasing the number of degrees of freedom."

Perhaps Nature is more complicated than you think it is. Especially with respect to spacetime.

Fred

this post has been edited by the author since its original submission

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Cristi replied on May. 30, 2012 @ 07:07 GMT
Lawrence,

"The general progress of physics has been about reducing the number of degrees of freedom."

Indeed, I very much like the vision you presented in your comment. Reducing the number of degrees of freedom can be viewed as a quantitative implementation of Occam's razor. Of course, like Occam's razor, one should view this as a general indication, and keep in mind that we should apply it with care, that there may be exceptions. For example, in gauge theory, fixing the gauge reduces the number of degrees of freedom. But I think it is preferable to consider the full degrees of freedom as the real structure, together with the symmetries, and to consider the various gauge choices as relative. To reflect this, I would formulate this principle to "reducing the number of independent degrees of freedom" (the key word here being "independent"), emphasizing in the same time the equally important but complementary role of symmetry.

There are several apparently independent indications that a reduction of the degrees of freedom, in the form of dimensional reduction of various types, has a healthy effect on the perturbative series in QFT and even in quantum gravity. Dimensional reduction corresponds, for example, to the vanishing of the Weyl tensor, hence of the gravitational degrees of freedom (including gravitons). This leads to the possibility that dimensional reduction makes quantum gravity perturbatively renormalizable. For some reason, the singularities, which are often presented as a bad thing, undergo dimensional reduction. So this "bad thing" about GR may be the cure for the other "bad thing", the apparent nonrenormalizability.

Cristi

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Paul Reed replied on May. 30, 2012 @ 07:43 GMT
Christi/Lawrence

As with every other attribute, the deemed ‘degrees of freedom’ must correspond with what occurs in reality, and not be a function of conceptualisation. For example: dimension. There is no corresponding physically existent phenomenon. What does exist is a definite number of possible directions that any given entity can move. That is, from any given spatial position, there are n possible adjacent spatial positions which can be subsequently occupied, at each point in time. Movement being change in spatial position. The concept of dimension is a simplification of this.

Paul

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Lwrence B. Crowell wrote on May. 30, 2012 @ 23:26 GMT
Cristi,

Of course the problem with dimensional reduction to 2 + 1 spacetime is there are no gravity waves. Gravity waves are helicity = 2 with two directions of polarization transverse to the longitudinal direction of motion. There is not enough space in two dimensions to put gravity waves or gravitons in. The good thing is there are no problems with renormalization because the whole...

view entire post


attachments: gauge_section.GIF, gluons__gravitons.doc

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Cristi Stoica replied on May. 31, 2012 @ 08:01 GMT
Lawrence,

I can't find my comment to which you answered here, it has been deleted with other comments, although there was nothing offensive in it. It was a long comment in which I invested time, but it was removed with the entire group which also contained my claim of priority on some ideas attributed to somebody else.

> "Of course the problem with dimensional reduction to 2 + 1...

view entire post


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Paul Reed replied on May. 31, 2012 @ 08:25 GMT
Agreed. I said something about degrees of freedom which has vanished, and I'm sure it was here

Paul

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Lawrence B. Crowell replied on May. 31, 2012 @ 18:20 GMT
The reduction of dimension you write about would correspond to the same with event horizons. The holographic projected fields exist on a stretched horizon with one dimension reduced.

The whole of string theory is on the infinite momentum frame. This is from the invariant momentum interval in special relativity. We have

m^2 = E^2 – p^2

Assume the spatial momentum p =...

view entire post


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Cristi Stoica wrote on May. 31, 2012 @ 04:27 GMT
I repost this here, because it vanished.

Hi Wilhelmus,

I think you are right that if the observation causes the collapse, this seems to imply that it affects the past. The experiment can be arranged to make clear that this extends to much more than 200ms. I don't know if this has something to do with consciousness. On the one hand, I see it as a condition of global compatibility between our choice and the initial conditions, and this removes the necessity of wavefunction collapse. We can consider that the initial conditions are delayed until the moment of observation. Although unitary (hence deterministic) also leaves room for free will*.

Good luck with your essay,

Cristi

________________________________

* For those who see similarities with Scott Aaronson's ideas, which he called "loony" at a FQXi talk, mine preceded his with 3 years right here at the FQXi essay contest ...

post approved

Cristi Stoica replied on May. 31, 2012 @ 06:20 GMT
And here is Scott's presentation.

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Eckard Blumschein replied on May. 31, 2012 @ 07:11 GMT
Either Q-computing works or there is some principled reason why it's not possible. In that I tend to agree with David Deutsch.

I also agree with the ass. prof. without tenure in that we don't know all inputs to all laws of nature.

Eckard

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Paul Reed replied on May. 31, 2012 @ 07:36 GMT
All

Observation only causes the cessation of a specific effect in photons (known as light), which in the context of the evolved process of sensory detection, is the physically existent phenomenon that is received by the observer. It results from interaction with an 'event'(existent state).

There is no physical connection between detection and the event. Apart from which, that event occurred before receipt of the light, anyway. So observation, or indeed any other form of sensing, can have no effect whatsoever on reality.

Paul

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Lawrence B. Crowell wrote on Jun. 1, 2012 @ 13:14 GMT
Perelman’s proof of the Poincare theorem on the equivalency between fundamental groups π^1(S^3) and topology of S^3 relies upon the Ricci flow of Hamilton

∂g_{ij}/∂t = 2R_{ij} + ∇N_j + ∇N_i

where the sphere is a case with nonzero Ricci tensor. With vacuum solutions we are interested in R_{ab} = 0. The Weyl curvature in four dimensions for a type D solution is eigenvalued by the Killing vectors K_a

C_{abcd}K^bK^d = λK_aK_c

A typical Killing vector is of the form K_t = sqrt{g_{tt}}∂/∂t which in the Schwarzschild case for r -- > 0 diverges. So the divergence of the Weyl curvature is directly dependent on the divergence of the Killing vector field. Then say for K_φ = ∂/∂φ

C_{tφtφ}K^φK^φ = λK_tK_t

The reduction of a dimension though means if the Weyl tensor vanishes, this is equivalent to g_{tt} -- > 0 for some cut off in the curvature where the vacuum solution fails at the singularity.

There is then something analogous to the Perelman “renormalization” of the Ricci flow. However, in this case the three dimensional manifold “flows” in an ADM type of relativity with a diverging Weyl curvature. Perelman’s proof is a technique for “rounding off” the cinching of a manifold region that is approaching a cusp. For the Weyl tensor case the region of integration does not include the singularity, but where that region is distorted into a filament along the longitudinal direction, or “spaghetti.”

Cheers LC

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Facebook replied on Jun. 1, 2012 @ 13:55 GMT
Cristi Stoica likes this.

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T H Ray replied on Jun. 1, 2012 @ 14:54 GMT
Well, if you like that, Cristi, you should like my intepretation of Christian's continuous measurement function nondegenerate near the singularity. (You, too, Lawrence.)

Tom

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Skype replied on Jun. 1, 2012 @ 15:15 GMT
Cristi Stoica has left the chat.

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Lawrence B. Crowell wrote on Jun. 3, 2012 @ 19:46 GMT
It is regrettable that SToica has apparently dropped this discussion.

LC

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Cristi replied on Jun. 4, 2012 @ 05:17 GMT
Thank you Lawrence, I am continuing the discussion with you in private. Please feel free to post here any nice comments you make, because they are usually very interesting and there's no need to keep them only for ourselves.

I like our discussion, but in order to avoid getting it hijacked into something about Joy Christian's objections to Bell's theorem, I had to move it on private. I don't want to participate in debates about Joy Christian's objections to Bell's theorem. I accepted to discuss them only if the debate is arbitrated as I already stated. Until then, no matter how fascinating these debates are, I will have to pass. I hope I don't offend anybody with my non-cooperation.

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Fred Diether replied on Jun. 4, 2012 @ 05:55 GMT
No offence taken, Cristi, but if you come up with some new argument about Joy's model, we would be interested in seeing it here. You never did answer my question as to when you might have your PhD?

Fred

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Paul Reed replied on Jun. 4, 2012 @ 07:34 GMT
And, in the same way that there is a specific blog for that discussion, it should not be brought up in others. Otherwise, all blogs become overshadowed with the 'Joy debate'

Paul

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Eckard Blumschein wrote on Jun. 3, 2012 @ 21:14 GMT
Dear Brendan Foster,

I got the impression, the topic of the next contest was slightly modified by George Musser of Scientific American: "Modern Physics" instead of simply "Physics" and focus just on unification of two theories. This might be a valuable guidance to a most interesting aspect rather than a restriction. Correct?

Yours sincerely,

Eckard

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Jun. 4, 2012 @ 21:00 GMT
Hi Eckard -- I assume you're referring to George Musser's post on the Sci.Am. webiste, here: Sci.Am.. You are correct. The official question is 'Physics', not 'Modern physics'. I assume that was just a typo on George's part. And I believe the focus on unifying theories was just for illustration.

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Steve Dufourny replied on Jun. 6, 2012 @ 10:30 GMT
ahahah the unifying theories without s Brendan.....your strategy is not really good you know with your superimposings of false maths. But it is just a suggestion of course.

Don't be too much frsutrated and full of hate, it is not good for the spiritual universality ...

Steve

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Alan Lowey wrote on Jun. 4, 2012 @ 21:34 GMT
Thank you for the link Brendon, a very fascinating read of the previous FQXi essay contest legacy.

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Alan Lowey replied on Jun. 5, 2012 @ 08:56 GMT
Sorry, I should have been saying "Brendan" (with an A).

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Jun. 6, 2012 @ 14:30 GMT
Yes, I'm glad to know we're building up a library.

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Ted Erikson wrote on Jun. 5, 2012 @ 20:18 GMT
I choose the problem of reviewing BASIC assumptions based on "thermodynamics of steady state" ideas of my 1959 research advisor, Dr. Ralph Tykodi* (now deceased) and personal experiences as a marathon swimmer.

In particular, the definition of energy as being associated with only that which we can easily measure and relate to, i.e. mechanical. Thermodynamics relates it to heat (based on temperature) and work (of many forms). Both of these relate to processes which involve chemistry (endo- and exo- thermic processes) and life (something that accomplishes something).

It will take some time and I may not succeed, but I presently see a way out of the macro (gravity) and micro (charge) complications of relativity (classical) and quantum (probability) that physics tries to define and measure.

In short, the the basic assumption of - what energy really is- needs updating

* His books may stimulate others along such lines, "Thermodynamics of the Steady State", Macmillan (1967) and "Thermodynamics of systems in non equilibrium states", Thinkers Press (2002)

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Armin Nikkhah Shirazi replied on Jun. 6, 2012 @ 22:24 GMT
Hi Ted,

I'll bite...what do you think, in concise terms, energy really "is"?

Armin

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James Putnam replied on Jun. 6, 2012 @ 22:42 GMT
Hi Armin,

Good luck in the essay contest. I expect that Ted would like to make his case unconcisely in his essay entry. If he answers you here, I will be interested in that answer.

You said: "...it possible measuring the speed of a particle or electromagnetic wave to be greater than the speed of light, and in this case time is speeding up"

I expect that you probably would prefer supporting this statement unconcisely in your essay. If not, I would be interested in your opinion about time. What is it that you expect to measure as speeding up? In other words, what are you measuring when you measure time as speeding up? I don't really ask you to answer these questions now. I expect to find the answers in your essay and its references.

I have decided that I probably will take the constancy of the speed of light on also. I would not do that concisely. The essay limitations are already severe. However, I think I will try it for the essay contest. I expect our presentations will be very different, but, both welcome.

I look forward to reading Ted's entry and your entry.

James

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Ted Erikson replied on Jun. 7, 2012 @ 16:11 GMT
Re: Armin and James

Briefly, more important than "what energy really is" is the problem of ALL of it's source(s) and a definition of it's need or use in what exists in the word around us. It does tend to take one into the realm of the metaphysical and the conflicts between two accepted approaches, science and religion.

Physics originated from this question and supplements the life sciences with fantastic physical insight, but isn't the reality of it being bypassed in our present day world endeavor(s)?

(A reasonable compromise based on fact, truth, and logic has been my wish for over 84 years)

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Azzam AlMosallami wrote on Jun. 6, 2012 @ 17:44 GMT
In 1993 in my second year of my BA in applied Science university in Amman-Jordan, I had a big question, it is how I can understand the special relativity theory according to the concepts, principles and laws of quantum. From that time till 1996 I found, the error was in the concepts and principles that Einstein adopted in the special relativity theory which were depending on the classical theory. One of these problems was the constancy of the speed of light, and then the reciprocity principle. And in order to unify between quantum and relativity in concepts, principles and laws, relativity theory must be modified according to the concepts, principles and laws of quantum. I completed this modification in 1996 and this was my graduation research. I remember when I discussed my research in a seminar, I told the presented students and doctors " according to my new relativity which is agreed to the concepts, principles and laws of quantum, it possible measuring the speed of a particle or electromagnetic wave to be greater than the speed of light, and in this case time is speeding up". At that time, my teachers have not believed me, and told me it is impossible to do that, and experimentally it is required hard working abilities to proof that.

Since the weakness of the abilities in the Arabian universities, my theory remained on hold in my university library. The experiments done by Gunter Nimtz in 2007-2008 regarded to quantum tunneling were good proof for what I proposed in my MSRT. Furthermore, the OPERA, Icarus, and SN1987a can be interpreted by my modified special relativity theory. Here I display the link of my modified special relativity, it is in http://vixra.org/pdf/1111.0001v1.pdf

The philosophical aspects of the theory existed in http://vixra.org/pdf/1206.0002v1.pdf Furthermore I could solve the Pioneer anomaly exactly according to modifying the relativity theory http://vixra.org/pdf/1109.0058v1.pdf Also quantum entanglement can be interpreted by my theory. Finally I hope to take my chance in FQXI.org to display my work to public after 18 years working. I'll not be angry if I'm wrong in my modified relativity, because I'll know the right. What I need now to be sure if I'm right or wrong. I hope to take my chance for discussion my MSRT.

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Jun. 7, 2012 @ 14:49 GMT
Thanks for taking a chance on us, Azzam. I hope you will find some good conversations.

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Azzam AlMosallami replied on Jun. 8, 2012 @ 13:48 GMT
Dear Brenda Foster, Thank you very much for your community that gave me this chance. Also I thank Sophie Hebden, he is right when he began his article "Faster Than Light" that "Good science needs heretics—people who aren’t afraid of seemingly mad ideas that may end up leading us to new truths. Once in awhile, their crazy proposals make the transition from taboo to—if not quite the mainstream—the respectable fringes of physics, with a host of associated offshoots by independent researchers." I really appreciate this statement and I'm feeling by its meaning!

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Jun. 8, 2012 @ 19:57 GMT
Well Azzam, that is good to hear.

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Tommy Gilbertson wrote on Jun. 6, 2012 @ 22:05 GMT
I'm all in: and this time will continue to develop the Theory of Consciousness according to Young's Double-Slit Experiment, this time re-deriving C according to NOT X^2=X. Recall this is the equation that represents Boolean Logic: it's how we think and how we program computers to think. This will hint at the goal of incorporating the Measure problem into a Quantum Gravitational Theory. Then I shall use the footnote from that same essay to further develop the equation for Asimovs' 3 Laws of Robotics (which equations are posted in my previous Essay. Further developing this Theory of Consciousness, and solving some long-standing problems in Physical Theory currently unsolved. Will wrap it up with a lucid caution to cease and desist all particle-accellerator experiments immediately, and why. Last and least I shall address our Physical Assumptions currently, and which are paths to discovery in this new Science. And suggest experiments and data in current exps. that can prove the new Theory of Reality posed in the New Essay Entrant. Or I shall not even enter, because getting a job and an income-stream is more important. It's a digital-computer toss. p.S. The last essay has also resulted in a website that sells all auto parts anywhere 24/7 through our official partner Advance Auto Parts stores nationwide. At their 4000 locations, if you call First using thier exclusive toll-free number you will get 20% off your order. Really, it's in the intro. recording now! Good until 2014! Quantum Auto Parts

this post has been edited by the author since its original submission

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Tommy Gilbertson replied on Jun. 6, 2012 @ 22:28 GMT
Oh, and just in case you are deleting the essays and threads from the last contest let me re-Publish that equation for consciousness here?

Before continuing, let us simplify things a bit by letting HS=C, where C is consciousness (whatever that means in an experimentally testable sense). So this equation then means: the human soul is consciousness. Well maybe or maybe not. We will save that Theory until experiment can decide the validity or no... Maybe the soul is much more than consciousness. But surely a part of the soul is consciousness? Even if not, for the sake of brevity, let us assume that all human souls have consciousness. Then

C=a(1-P)(1-D)(1-O)+b(1-P)D(1-O)+PDO {1}

and

0=P(1-D)(1-O) {2}

and

0=PD(1-O) {3}

Interpretations:

{1} consciousness is sometimes a wave that is not observed whether detected or not, and is always the result of an observation of a detection of a particle.

{2}and {3} If a particle is not observed, whether detected or not as a particle, it does not exist. It is a non-real, virtual, wave until it becomes actual.

Thanks, look forward to the Essay Entries!

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Azzam AlMosallami replied on Jun. 6, 2012 @ 23:07 GMT
Please can you read my theory about consciousness and Matter, the philosophical aspects of the modified Special relativity according to the concepts and principles of quantum theory

http://vixra.org/pdf/1206.0002v1.pdf

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Azzam AlMosallami replied on Jun. 6, 2012 @ 23:31 GMT
my previous paper is presented in the conference of TOWARD A SCIENCE OF CONSCIOUSNESS 2008, THE UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA.

http://banduraold.sbs.arizona.edu/login/consciousnes
s/pubreport.aspx?aid=2825

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Tommy Gilbertson wrote on Jun. 6, 2012 @ 22:51 GMT
1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

2. A robot must obey any orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.



Let R=robot (that exists with the three laws governing it's actions)

I=injure

H=Human

J=Inaction

O=obey

C=Orders

F=First Law

S=Second Law

T=Third Law

P=protect

The three laws are True for our robot: F=S=T=1

Law 1: F=1=R(I-1)H+JHI

Law 2: S=1=ROCH+vC(1-F)

Law 3: T=1=RP+v([1-F]+[1-S])P

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Helmut Hansen wrote on Jun. 7, 2012 @ 05:16 GMT
I've already participated twice in the FQXi-Contest. It was always a great opportunity to present ideas that would otherwise be rejected. I am currently working on an essay which is closely related to the ongoing discussion. It concerns the speed of light.

We know that light itself has a dual nature, which we are usually calling the "wave-particle-duality". I am convinced that the speed of light is of dual nature as well! In other words: The speed of light is also a quantum mechanical property that is given twice.

Accordingly, it is geometrically codified in two different ways - as a circle (= wave) and as a square (= particle). Since both geometric matrices are closely entangled and parameterized in the same way, that is, c = 1, it is extremely difficult to recognize this dual nature of the speed of light.

Seduced by the principle of relativity, we ask only whether the parameter c = 1 is empirically realized in nature or not - without knowing that c = 1 has two faces and not only one as we still believe.

Since this parameter c = 1 has been confirmed again and again, we came erroneously to the conclusion that Einstein's special theory of relativity is a fundamentally correct theory about the universe, but in truth we have been deceived by nature, especially by its quantum mechanical core.

This is the story I want to tell in my essay.

But to be honest, it's more a vision than a theory

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Jun. 7, 2012 @ 14:44 GMT
Hi Helmut -- you've got plenty of time, so keep working at it.

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Robert L. Oldershaw wrote on Jun. 8, 2012 @ 02:29 GMT
When can we expect to start seeing essays that have been submitted and accepted?

Thanks for any info.

RLO

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Jun. 8, 2012 @ 20:00 GMT
Hi RLO -- Like we do every year, we're waiting to receive 10 or so entries before we post any online. It helps kick things off with a big start. We have received a few already, but I can't say how long till we have 10.

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Tony Willow wrote on Jun. 11, 2012 @ 05:47 GMT
An exciting topic - I enjoyed the previous contests!

I may contribute and essay but need clarification of what is permissible in endnotes. For instance in the essay the following is written:

From equation a=b+c we derive x=y (refer endnote).....

And in the endnote one shows the mundane steps how x=y is derived. These steps would include equations and explanation which really are not relevant to the essay, but assure the reader of the validity of the statement in the essay.

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Jun. 12, 2012 @ 17:53 GMT
Hi Tony -- what you describe is exactly what we had in mind with the endnotes -- a place for the author to give some technical details that aren't essential to [and are not officially part of] the essay.

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Tony replied on Jun. 12, 2012 @ 19:17 GMT
Hi Brendan Thanks for the clarification.

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster wrote on Jun. 13, 2012 @ 21:47 GMT
Get ready! Friday! We release the first batch of entries!

As in past contests, we have been waiting for our first batch of 10 or so valid entries before we begin posting the entries. Well, that time has come this year faster than ever--less than 3 weeks, compared to 2 months in the past. In fact, we have a few more than 10 already, but we'll just sit tight till Friday.

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John Merryman replied on Jun. 14, 2012 @ 16:13 GMT
Brendan,

In the criteria it says essays should be new thinking on the author's part and not pet theories packaged with a few nods to the topic. I think a point I have been making here for years; That we treat time as a vector from past to future, because we experience it as a series of events, is mistaken and that it is the changing configuration of the extant, turning future into past, which goes to the core of the confusion permeating physics. So would this be an acceptable topic, even if I've already beaten it near to death?

While I may not have much to add to points I've already made, I do think it is something worth broader consideration.

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Jun. 14, 2012 @ 20:41 GMT
Hi John -- First answer is, it's up to you as the writer to decide whether the material merits an essay or not. Now for the long answer, let me have a good cup of coffee===

I think you're hitting on two connected, but subtly different points--'originality' and 'topicality'.

On originality, I would say it is probably to be expected that an author would focus on a specific theme on which they have already spent some time thinking or writing. But, ideally, the author would honestly push themselves into new territory with the essay. In the past, we've seen winning essays that didn't put forth a whole new research result, but at least presented older results from some new perspective.

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Jun. 14, 2012 @ 20:51 GMT
And on 'topicality'--well, we want people to honestly think about and try to answer the question, Which Assumptions...

That's where the line about pet theories comes in. In some sense, any new work in physics challenges old assumptions, but I would say that a good essay will not be about a particular theory--it will be about those assumptions challenged by the theory. It will explain and argue why those assumptions have to go. There are various 'preferred frame' theories out there, for instance [as I know well]--but a topical essay won't just present such a theory--it will argue why we need any such theory in the first place, why the assumption of no-preferred-frame is wrong.

In closing, though, these are just my thoughts, and as always, the winners are chosen by a combination of votes from lots of people who may feel differently from me. And you as an author may choose to disagree too.

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster wrote on Jun. 15, 2012 @ 16:42 GMT
You may have assumed that it would take a while to get the contest rolling, but no, that is incorrect.

The first entries are now online! You can begin reading and discussing in the contest forums here.

By the time we had everything in place, we actually had 18 entries ready to go. As you will see on the main contest page, you can list the entries by author name, submission date, and public or community rating.

As with last year, the community rating [which determines the pool of finalists] will not be shown, to add increased anxiety.

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Tommy Gilbertson wrote on Jun. 19, 2012 @ 02:54 GMT
I'm a third of the way done, but it occurs to me: Brendan gave me no attaboy, but most everybody else got encouragement. Is it a subtle hint, or an unintentional overlook due to the format? Please help me, fqxi community, should I even complete the other 2/3's of this essay? How about some feedback, especially TED-community members? Also still looking for a good job. Willing to travel. Work my way up. I have writers block now, even though the rest of the essay is in my head complete. Maybe it should stay there lol?

Nested PHASERS Invented as Proof of the Holographic Principle (or Who Watches the Watcher)

Tommy Gilbertson

QuantumWidgets.com

Abstract: PHASERS (Probability Hamiltonian Amplification by the Stimulated emission of Radiation) are invented and briefly explained to propose an experiment whereby a unique reality among the multiversal copies of the experiment is chosen consciously by the experimenter, i.e. the outcome of a probability-distributed range of eigenvalues of an observation occurs more often than 75% of the time in a large number of identical experiments, where the Standard Model predicts a range of outcome probabilities instead. This process will be explained by proposing a new form of field of Consciousness (using previous work by the author) whereby the messenger particle is a quantum of ‘conscious’ thought. This theoretical prediction of the future experiment described will be used to show that some of our fundamental assumptions about physical reality are mistaken, and a way forward theoretically and experimentally is briefly described, proposed using existing newly invented technology from the TED community. Then the essay shall diverge sharply, and transmute into a plea to focus science solely on the problem and a proposal to help immediately stimulate the economies of the world. On which economies all of our theories, experiments, inventions, and freedom of thought therefrom, depend essentially.

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Georgina Parry replied on Jun. 19, 2012 @ 05:59 GMT
Hi Tommy,

please do finish writing it. I will read it if you do and it is accepted for the competition. As I enjoyed reading your last FQXi essay and other writing.

I am also drafting an essay. It is currently much too long, as I have a lot that I would like to say in it. I would like it to be easier to read, more enjoyable/interesting and more ground breaking than last year's. Its like packing suitcase. I know I can fit it all in if I try.

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Wilhelmus de Wilde replied on Jun. 19, 2012 @ 15:36 GMT
Very good Tommy, reads like an SF story, go on pls, this Sf is reality. Georgine cannot wait to read your entry. I am working too, consciousness will play an important part.

Wilhelmus

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TMG replied on Jun. 19, 2012 @ 21:41 GMT
Thanks for the encouragement Georgina & Wilhelmus. I'm looking forward to reading your essays too...

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James A Putnam wrote on Jun. 19, 2012 @ 22:23 GMT
FQXi.org,

Thank you for this new essay contest, and, for accepting and posting my entry.

James

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Jun. 20, 2012 @ 20:56 GMT
Hi James -- Thanks for taking part.

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TKF wrote on Jun. 23, 2012 @ 04:00 GMT
This essay contest is a bit depressing. In the software development world, anyone, even a kid, is free to post a bug report--it's easy to do so, with no formality. If the bug is serious and is shown to be reproducible, other people will listen. The bug may then get fixed. In the physics world, "bugs" are hard to report (a sound argument is insufficient; a subjective level of "extraordinary evidence" is only part of the requirements) and any amateur physicist who posts one is automatically assumed to be a crackpot, such that there's no need to read the bug report. (I'm not talking about indisputable observations, like those through a telescope. Of course those can upend our knowledge. I'm talking about mistakes in our theoretical physics.)

I'd love to write an essay for this contest, if I thought it would be read. But I'm confident it wouldn't be. I don't mind writing something short like this though, in the event there is a truly curious & open mind out there. Google for Solutions to 5 Major Problems in Physics. One of our basic physical assumptions that is wrong is that general relativity is consistent with its equivalence principle postulate for every small freely falling frame that GR allows. The inconsistency is in plain sight, is provable by a short/unique sound argument, but it's subtle.

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Eckard Blumschein replied on Jun. 23, 2012 @ 09:26 GMT
Hi TKF,

Writing an essay myself, I will certainly read an comment on every honest and intelligent essay that tries to deal with suspected very basic questionable tenets in physics and mathematics. You just mentioned rather obvious inconsistencies. Nonetheless, I would like to strongly encourage you for taking part, at least in the discussion. What is your opinion concerning the essays by Roger Schlafly and by J. V. N. Smith?

Just an aside, Smith quoted a perhaps wrongly translated utterance by Einstein: "believing in physics" instead of "believing physicist".

Eckard

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TKF replied on Jun. 28, 2012 @ 23:28 GMT
Well, I didn't mention rather obvious inconsistencies. If they were obvious then general relativity would be recognized as invalid already.

The stats on my blog confirm the unlikelihood that an essay by me would be considered by the FQXi editors. Unfortunately the state of things today is this: while a teenager can be hailed for finding a subtle and serious problem in widely used software, only the annointed few are permitted to challenge widely accepted physics, regardless of proof. Everyone else is a crackpot by definition. To give the appearance of openness, however, anyone will be allowed to present proof, which is then ignored.

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Arjen Dijksman replied on Aug. 6, 2012 @ 16:21 GMT
Hi TKF,

Taking part in the discussion is a sufficient reason to post an essay. Your essay will be read by physicists, whether it runs for the prices or not. One of the goals of this contest is to "provide an arena for discussion and exchange of ideas regarding foundational questions". So please report your bugs. It will always feed discussion and inspire new thoughts.

Arjen

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James Putnam wrote on Jun. 26, 2012 @ 01:29 GMT
The professional entries that are so necessary and so appreciated are showing up. Thank you phd's. I look forward to learning from many such entries. Do not miss the opportunity out of disdain for mixing with amatuers. The judges are professionals. The community voting can be trying, but, it cannot freeze out the best essay's. The judges are professionals, and, they have choices they make also. Consider submitting an essay.

James

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Eric Reiter wrote on Jun. 26, 2012 @ 23:05 GMT
I find one note in your rules a bit confusing. I do have a "pet theory to trot out," and it does "reject assumptions" of established physics. That might seem to disqualify me, at least if I read the note in one particular way.



However, I have performed well-documented experiments supporting this “pet theory” – experiments that I plan to describe in detail. In other words, I do offer “new insights” about “tacit, unquestioned assumptions.” Therefore it seems to me that the note warning against “pet theories” does not disqualify me – at least, not out of hand.



Right?



I want to be clear about the rule in question, lest I spend my time and energy in vain.



I want to be clear about the rule in question, lest I spend my time and energy in vain.

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Jun. 27, 2012 @ 20:32 GMT
Hello Eric -- as a working rule, we don't look to disqualify an entry based on content. We want to leave it to readers and referees to decide how well the essay honestly addresses the topic. The Community has done an excellent job at this kind of filtering in the past.

So, one way to look at that note is as tested advice on how to write a successful essay. Every piece of good science challenges assumptions in some way. What though is more interesting to a reader? An essay mainly focused on the features of a "pet theory" -- Or an essay focused on why familiar assumptions cannot stand, which uses a pet theory as an illustration?

That subtle shift in emphasis has had a huge impact on the success of entries in the past.

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Jun. 27, 2012 @ 20:43 GMT
As an example, people should check out Jarmo Makela's first prize winner from last year.

The main content is essentially a summary of Jarmo's viewpoint on how quantum gravity should be constructed -- in some sense, a 'pet theory'. That technical content, though, is immersed in a larger, more general discussion of whether spacetime is discrete [the contest topic]. The specific theory almost seems to emerge as the "obvious" choice [to Newton, I guess], based on the bigger discussion. The essay is a lot of fun, but also persuasive and possibly even subversive.

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Pentcho Valev replied on Jun. 27, 2012 @ 21:39 GMT
In his winning essay Jarmo Makela claims that the constancy of the speed of light with respect to all inertial observers can be deduced from Newton's first law of motion, which is obviously wrong. The referees did not see this?

Pentcho Valev pvalev@yahoo.com

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Eric Reiter wrote on Jun. 28, 2012 @ 00:55 GMT
The character counter is not working for me anymore. It did in past. I choose my file, the name shows, I click count, it uploads, then the file name disappears and no count is given.

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Jun. 28, 2012 @ 13:41 GMT
I will ask our web guru. The counter works for me right now, so check things on your end. Try using a file that worked in the past.

In the meantime, Microsoft Word has a built-in character counter, in case you are using it to write the essay. You might also find a counter elsewhere online.

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Eric Reiter replied on Jun. 29, 2012 @ 01:39 GMT
I made it work by deleting a photo. Sorry.

Is there a pixel limit, like dots/inch for the graphics?

It is currently high on my pictures, 500/inch to make the bitmapped typeset look good. I will experiment more to find the best #, if required.

Thank you

ER

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Jul. 6, 2012 @ 15:46 GMT
We don't have any limits on image resolution, but keep in mind that people have to download your essay to read it. Smaller files will most likely be appreciated.

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John Merryman wrote on Jul. 4, 2012 @ 10:32 GMT
Brendan,

Would it be possible to add a preference for a judge to my contest submission?

If so, would Julian Barbour be available?

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Jul. 6, 2012 @ 15:51 GMT
Hi John -- I'll make a note of that info. But also just to clarify, the purpose of the reviewer info on the entry form is just to give us an idea of who you think qualified experts are for your essay. That information collected from all entrants helps give us a sense of the range of people we need to find for the panel. We may not actually contact any of the suggested reviewers -- or we might contact them. We also don't select specific people just to read specific essays--the review panel has to consider all the essays.

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Jul. 6, 2012 @ 15:53 GMT
So anyway, the point is, we may or may not contact Julian Barbour for the panel, but it is useful to know that you would call him qualified to review your essay.

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Alan Lowey wrote on Jul. 4, 2012 @ 12:00 GMT
I've just realised that this competition isn't about winning a prize, it's about meeting people with the same science philosophy which will lead to the inevitable conclusion of a new theory in the making. You're a part of that group Brendan, so thank you again for achieving such a fantastic concept as FQXi.

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Jul. 6, 2012 @ 15:57 GMT
Thanks Alan, I agree with your interpretation.

And really the work was done by everyone at FQXi and with the help of our partners listed above. And of course, by the people writing the essays. I'm not allowed to enter, but I understand it takes some guts to send something where it will be read over and scrutinized and discussed.

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Alan Lowey replied on Jul. 7, 2012 @ 11:50 GMT
Of course I should have thanked the whole FQXi team, sponsors and those who are taking part. It can be quite a emotional time when first trying to get some recognition of your achievements, yes. I like to think I'm used it now with my second contest entry completed and hours spent on on-line forums trying to jostle ideas until something new began to emerge. Time will tell. Dark matter still has to be explained by the mainstream science community. Prof Brian Cox was confident that in two years or so they'd know 'one way or the other' I think.

this post has been edited by the author since its original submission

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TMG replied on Aug. 4, 2012 @ 07:25 GMT
Hi Alan:

I have come around to agree completely with your crazy butt! And as I leave this community for the last time, I must say I admire your courage. Your ideas are apparently superiour to mine, so I'm carrying the strident, crazy, fringe torch now too. Can I carry it now? You go Alan, don't let the 100% of people who disagree with you get you down. Like they have me. Good luck!

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Eric Reiter wrote on Jul. 15, 2012 @ 05:34 GMT
Please:

I am assuming the body of the essay does not include the abstract. If I include the abstract I exceed 25000 characters and 9 pages. So can I put the abstract under my essay title in the PDF?

I counted body + figure captions + title, with your counter and I am very close to 25000 characters. I remove my figures when using your counter, but my body (no abstract) with figures will be properly within 9 pages. The characters in the figures are not verbose (not abusive) but If I count those I go over the 25000.

Thank you.

ER

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Jul. 19, 2012 @ 16:23 GMT
Hello Eric --

There is some flexibility in the contest rules here. For instance -- Does the essay body include the essay's title, or the authors' names? Does a separate title page with just that info count towards the page limits? The rules are not completely clear, so we have developed a few guidelines. Please keep in mind that since these are guidelines, they may change, although we always intend to be fair to all entrants and to the spirit of the rules.

Well, in short, to answer your questions---We usually do not view the abstract as part of the main essay body, unless it appears to be other than a summary of the essay [i.e. if the author is sneaking in extra text]. We do usually insist that the entire essay file fit within 12 pages.

Let me just pose the question for consideration--why include the abstract in the file at all? We ask for an abstract for the webpage [and readers will see it there], but the essay itself should not be intended as a journal article. However, that is the author's choice.

For characters in figures---here, we have to consider entries on a case-by-case basis. Characters in captions definitely count. If the figure itself contains explanatory text, we may count it. Labels on graphs of data we may overlook. I recommend, however, that you consider all characters in the figures and adjust your essay length to include them.

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Eric Stanley Reiter replied on Jul. 20, 2012 @ 07:58 GMT
Please:

I tried uploading my essay and the form did not take it. The file is 10.3M bytes due to several photos. It was 10 pages. The character counter does not work with graphics either.

Please advise.

ER

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Jul. 23, 2012 @ 15:31 GMT
Hello Eric -- it looks like you may have figured this out, or else there was no problem the first time. Either way, we have the essay file from you.

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Author Frank Martin DiMeglio wrote on Aug. 9, 2012 @ 19:11 GMT
Brendan and FQXi.org, with all of my posts having direct, important, and fundamental relevancy to the contest and to physics in general, why are these numerous great [and clearly true/foundational] physical truths and facts ignored?

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Alan Lowey wrote on Aug. 31, 2012 @ 13:18 GMT
Well done FQXi! The competition deadline is almost upon us and the number of essay entries is a record high, 177 on 30th August, beating the last figure of 162 topics which beat the previous 137 topics which again surpassed the original 114 topics of the first essay competition.

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Jose P. Koshy wrote on Aug. 31, 2012 @ 15:33 GMT
I have submitted my essay and it has been accepted. Thank you and the rest at FQXi for having provided such an opportunity.However, now I have a serious doubt.Do you expect the essays to be in tune with QM and offer changes in the foundations to take QM forward? In my essay, I have argued to go back to classical physics, (pre-Einstein and pre-QM), correct some foundations and resurrect classical physics. Now I feel like 'odd man out'.

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Alan Lowey replied on Sep. 4, 2012 @ 09:33 GMT
You're not the only one Jose. See below:

*Brendan*

Now the deadline has passed for essay entries your ability to referee a possible discovery during the recent discussion between myself and another author is requested. The position of the moon appears to be a crucial factor in the earth flyby anomalies. The three biggest energy increases all occurred when the moon just started it's last quarter. I've informed the talkpage of Wikipedia and expect an update some time soon. The details can be seen here in Abraham's essay discussion section. Thank you for your time if you are able to spare any during this busy period.

Congratulations on a very successful competition,

Alan

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Alan Lowey replied on Sep. 20, 2012 @ 09:30 GMT
The lunar tidal bulge is responsible for the flyby phenomena imo.

attachments: FlybyLunarTidalEffect_001.jpg

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Anonymous wrote on Sep. 4, 2012 @ 00:39 GMT
Hi Brendan.

1) The best essays are winners, correct? PhD or no PhD, correct?

2) I suspect that you will advise on here when all of the accepted essays are posted?

A very necessary and important selection of contest topic by the way. Thanks!

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Anton Lorenz Vrba wrote on Sep. 6, 2012 @ 00:34 GMT
Brendan,

Thanks FQXi and to you for making the essay competition possible. In fairness to neutrality and bias-less rating,  I have following queries: 

Could you please inform us on what basis "Top Essays" are selected at this early stage. I refer to the home page http://www.fqxi.org/community

In the same context, could you please inform on what basis the essays are sorted when clicking "community rating" on the page http://www.fqxi.org/community/forum/category/31418

Regards

Ant
on

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 18:03 GMT
Yes, sure thing, but I will answer in reverse order---

Community rating -- The "Community" members are the essay contest entrants plus FQXi Members. The Community ratings are therefore the ratings placed by community members. The current ratings numbers are not displayed, in order to create suspense, but you see the current order when you select the option to sort by community rating. The current finalists are the first 35 [plus a few more if there is a tie at the 35th spot].

The 'Top Essays' -- every Monday, we change the list. We post the 3 or 4 essays with the highest community rating, UNLESS they were featured the previous week. This last clause means that sometimes the featured essays are not the top 3 ranked; however, this way, we can feature more essays. For instance, George Ellis currently has the top ranked essay, but he was featured last week---therefore, we don't feature him this week. Instead, we have 4 essays that have not yet been featured.

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Pentcho Valev wrote on Sep. 6, 2012 @ 05:44 GMT
Brendan Foster,

Why do some people get top community ratings as soon as their esssays appear? Is this a contest between groups of friends who unconditionally support their members?

Pentcho Valev pvalev@yahoo.com

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Don Limuti replied on Sep. 8, 2012 @ 22:05 GMT
Hi Pentcho,

Good point. This makes FQXi look sleazy.

I do not necessarily think they are cherry picking ahead of time, but they sure give the appearance of it!

They show us what the order of community voting is but not the number of votes. I actually believe their web guru has made calculation errors. They can remedy this by showing the community vote tally.

Your question deserves a response from FQXi.

Don L.

this post has been edited by the author since its original submission

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 18:15 GMT
Pentcho -- I'm not sure I understand your question. The community ratings do not appear at any time, least of all when an essay first appears. Can you explain in more detail what you are asking?

Don -- would you like to explain in more detail what sort of error you think has occurred? In that case, we can look into it.

this post has been edited by the forum administrator

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Pentcho Valev replied on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 18:39 GMT
Sara Imari Walker jumped to the top of the community rating list as soon as her essay appeared and was surpised herself. See our dialogue:

http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/1526

Pentcho Valev

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Yuri Danoyan wrote on Sep. 7, 2012 @ 04:11 GMT
Brendan

I often watching community rating and wondering when i see lady among leaders

Her submission was Sep. 6, 2012

Crim???

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 18:07 GMT
I'm not sure I understand the question. Do you mean--why did some essays appear after the contest deadline? The answer is, it takes a few days to process the entries, so that some entries are not officially approved until after the deadline. As it says in the contest rules, it can take up to 7 days for this process. At this stage, all essays are now online, so happy reading.

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Cristinel Stoica wrote on Sep. 8, 2012 @ 07:36 GMT
Dear Brendan,

This year's edition of the contest was an even bigger success, and I wish to congratulate the organizers.

There are so many essays, but unfortunately there is so little time to read them. I submitted the essay in a peaceful period, but it is unfair to the latest entries, which are so crowded, and definitely there's not enough time for them to get the deserved attention, and for their authors to give their attention to other essays.

That's why I would make a suggestion: why not giving us more time to read and discuss the essays? It is obvious that there is not enough time, even for the earlier entries. After all, we don't expect the next edition to happen right now, so extending the time with several months won't hurt. If you can extend the time until the next essay contest, we will have more time to read, with less pressure, and the assessment would be more correct. Maybe it would be not fair to change the rules at this time, but you can send to each contestant an email and give us a possibility to vote for this proposal.

Best regards,

Cristi Stoica

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Don Limuti replied on Sep. 8, 2012 @ 21:51 GMT
Dear Cristi,

I also feel there is not enough time to read all the essays (particularly this year). So:

1. Read http://www.fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/1403 as soon as possible :)

2. Perhaps an essay map would be usefull? It would show essay title versus subject area.

Don L.

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Cristinel Stoica replied on Sep. 9, 2012 @ 14:25 GMT
In addition, if the rating will be open until the next essay contest, the site will have higher number of visitors for the entire year

this post has been edited by the author since its original submission

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 18:36 GMT
Dear Brendan Foster,

I noticed a week or so ago that my number of comments went from 203 to 201 and this morning I note that the number went from 224 to 222.

I have not asked that any comments be removed, and, because I and my guests have written many interesting comments, I do not want them removed. Can you tell me what's going on here? There were, to my knowledge no insults or incorrect statements of fact that would justify even the consideration of such removal, and I do not think it should be possible for others to remove arguments that they do not like. Is there any way to track such removals, and have them restored. I know that you are already under a tremendous workload, but I believe this is a significant problem. Believing these comments are 'permanent' I have not been backing them up, and many comments take quite a bit of thought and effort. For someone to erase these, for whatever reason, is not right.

Thanks for your consideration.

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Sep. 11, 2012 @ 14:54 GMT
Flagged comments disappear from the forum at the moment they are flagged, but they go through a second review before the can be permanently deleted. Therefore, I can assure you that any comments removed from your forum were identified as clearly not relevant to the discussion. In fact, I agree with you---faulty arguments and incorrect facts should be left on view for all to see.

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Pentcho Valev replied on Sep. 13, 2012 @ 05:15 GMT
Brendan Foster,

You wrote: "Therefore, I can assure you that any comments removed from your forum were identified as clearly not relevant to the discussion."

The contest is not fair, Brendan. Unwanted comments disappear and people are not even informed.

Pentcho Valev

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Eric Stanley Reiter wrote on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 23:12 GMT
Brendan Foster: Much humble appreciation for the current exposure and its potential for a meaningful scientific hearing. I have sought 10 years for a fair hearing. It looks like I have the only essay containing description of original experiment to back its theory and conclusions. This is what separates physics from philosophy. However, my position is surely hard to take, and I expect arguments crying that my work was not peer reviewed, or something. Well, lets do a good job. I am willing to demonstrate the Unquantum effect anywhere. My portable gamma splitter now works and my portable alpha splitter is ready to test. I can bring them both to a FQXI San Francisco Bay area office or site of a contest sponsor.

An up-front recognition of this demonstration idea could make this contest a meaningful newsworthy win for everyone involved.

Thank you, Eric Reiter author of A Challenge to Quantized Absorption by Experiment and Theory (1344).

PS, Eugine, I agree.

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Eric Stanley Reiter replied on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 23:22 GMT
Here is a photo of the portable gamma-split experiment.

Thank you. Eric Reiter

attachments: gammasplitter.jpg

this post has been edited by the author since its original submission

this post was moved here from a different topic

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Alan Lowey wrote on Sep. 11, 2012 @ 10:12 GMT
The latest FQXi twitter physics article:

[quote]Wang said the new field equations also lead to a modified Newtonian gravitational force formula, which shows that dark matter plays a more important role in a galactic scale at about 1,000 to 100,000 light years, but is less important in the larger scale, where dark energy will be significant (more than 10 million light years).[end quote]

Very interesting article and concept. I think they are on the right course. It fits with the idea of non-Newtonian matter being created at the centre of stars and spread to the planets via supernovae events and comet impacts imo. This fits with the scale limitations mentioned . Someone tell Mr Wang for me please!

Newton would have assumed that stars created non-Newtonian matter at their cores due to their spin rate and super high gravity field. Older stars would therefore have more of this extra force on the plane of rotation. This fits with the spiral galaxy rotation curves which have a central bulge of young stars and an outer disk of older stars which rotate faster than expected(!). Is the Main Seqeunce of Star Classification missing the onset of creation of non-Newtonian matter? I think it is. The evidence fits like a glove imo.

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Member George F. R. Ellis wrote on Sep. 12, 2012 @ 08:59 GMT
It's a good essay competition, thanks for setting it up. However there is a negative side. While I have had many good discussion with some participants, I have to say that I am disappointed by the aggressive, rude, and sometimes downright insulting note of some of the comments I have received on my thread. I have only flagged one as truly objectionable, but quite a few more have been pretty unpleasant. It is quiet a deterrent to taking part in these discussions.

Is this just an aspect of the general unpleasantness of the blogosphere, or is it more a reflection of the arrogance and condescending attitude of some theoretical physicists?

I think it would be improved a bit if you refused to accept anonymous posts or pseudonyms. Then those who are really rude are at least identified and cannot hide behind a shield of anonymity.

George Ellis

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Member Joy Christian replied on Sep. 12, 2012 @ 09:39 GMT
Dear Professor Ellis,

May I offer my two cents on the issues you have raised?

You ask:

"Is this just an aspect of the general unpleasantness of the blogosphere, or is it more a reflection of the arrogance and condescending attitude of some theoretical physicists?"

I would say both.

Blogosphere is a public forum, and as such it offers democratic freedom to all walks of life---from gentlemen to criminals. Sadly, what you have experienced is only a fraction of what I have experienced in the past year or two.

Moreover, theoretical physicists do not have a great reputation in this matter. As they say, a few bad apples can spoil the whole basket, and that is what you have been experiencing.

In an open Internet forum like this there are also other issues such as trolling etc., which psychologists are only just beginning to understand. These are aspects of bad human behaviour usually suppressed outside the cyberspace.

The issue of anonymity is a technical issue, and I will let the FQXi admin sort that one out.

Best wishes,

Joy Christian

this post has been edited by the author since its original submission

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Sep. 13, 2012 @ 15:29 GMT
Hello George -- Thank you for the input. I do apologize to you and all our essay entrants and forum users, for negative experiences like this. The participation of the authors and FQXi Members makes this contest unique, so we need to find ways to make the forum aspect enjoyable and worthwhile as the contest grows.

You have hit on a point that we need to think carefully about. We want to somehow balance the system's "democratic" openness as Joy says, with the need to have a sensible, meaningful, useful discussion. Your idea of non-anonymity is most likely a good step. Maybe only allowing comments from other entrants and Members? .

Ultimately, there will likely have to be a higher level of moderator oversight. For the time being, you [and all the other users] can feel free to flag posts as inappropriate. The messages go through a second stage of review before deletion, so this process actually helps us get a feel for what forum users consider acceptable.

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Don Limuti replied on Sep. 18, 2012 @ 00:22 GMT
Hi George,

This is my fourth contest, and it is by far the most civilized, thanks mostly to Brendan. And yes it is still rough, but remember it is a contest for "money" and therefore has some of the aspects of crowded bazaar. There are rude and greedy troublemakers in the crowd, and we can still have fun.

I have to admit that one of my posts was removed due to a fondness I have for a four letter word.... no not that one, but the one that Heisenberg used in referring to Schrodinger's work used in a letter to Pauli. Perhaps if I used the original German it would have been OK. :)

You have a great essay, do not worry.

Don L.

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster wrote on Sep. 13, 2012 @ 15:37 GMT
A quick reminder to all our forum users during this contest -- please be aware that FQXi administrators will remove comments identified as inappropriate or "unwanted", i.e. spam. All forum users should read the terms of use before posting, listed here.

We hope to provide thoughtful, scientific discussions. These forums are not a wide-open free-for-all. Anything that would not be said in a seminar or public lecture should not be said here.

We will enforce the guidelines to remove posts that are:

Vulgar or offensive;

Inflammatory;

Excessively outside of the scope of the current topic;

Directed at specific individuals in an inappropriate manner;

Commercial in nature; and/or,

Incomprehensible or extremely lengthy.

We may also remove comments that are overly repetitious, including those that are close copies of similar messages in the same forum or in other forums. [Since the discussions are written, not verbal, it is not necessary to repeat an argument already made. Having made your point, please move on.]

If you find a comment of yours has disappeared, feel free to ask me for an explanation. I will be happy to give one.

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John Merryman replied on Sep. 13, 2012 @ 16:01 GMT
Brendon,

Would there be a way to better separate the flag and reply buttons? Occasionally I follow this on my phone and have it decide I'm touching the flag button, rather than the reply button. I've canceled them on the check page, but it would be nice if they were not so close together.

Also on the blog pages, there is a list of recent comments posted to the contest entry pages. Rather than just list previous contests in that space on entry pages, for those of us who are time challenged, it would be nice to have that feature on the left side of all contest entry pages as well.

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Pentcho Valev replied on Sep. 13, 2012 @ 16:12 GMT
Brendan Foster,

You wrote: "We may also remove comments that are overly repetitious, including those that are close copies of similar messages in the same forum or in other forums."

No you may not. Whenever I find an argument of mine relevant, e.g. in a reply to Giovanni Amelino-Camelia, I must be free to use it, even if I have already used this argument countless times elsewhere. By secretly deleting it you bias the contest in favor of your friends.

Pentcho Valev

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Domenico Oricchio replied on Sep. 13, 2012 @ 16:16 GMT
I am upset for the insulting comments to Ellis.

It is difficult in internet to identify a person (alias in facebook, relay emails, etc), and it is difficult (and irritating loss of time) a secure access in a closed blog; until now I see a little number of offensive comment in fqxi weekly blogs (I am sure that the community members are innocent), and interesting comment in each field of the knowledge.

I think that the only possibility in an open blog is delete immediately the comment that are considered offensive by an entrant, or a blog author, or the administrator: if you give a delay time (some hours) between the author (or entrants, or administrator) reading and publication, then the spammer have not the possibility to be read by the community: sometime the people say worlds should not be remembered.

Saluti

Domenico

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster wrote on Sep. 13, 2012 @ 15:47 GMT
And next, just a clarification/reminder of how the voting works.

The main point is: The pool of finalists is chosen by the results of COMMUNITY ratings, and not the PUBLIC ratings.

The Public ratings are more or less "for fun". Anyone can place a public rating.

The Community ratings determine the finalists, and also affect the final winners. Only contest entrants and FQXi Members can place community ratings. The Community ratings are not currently shown, in part to add a hint of suspense. You can, however, view the current order of rankings by sorting the list of essays by community rating, in the list of sort options at the top of the page of essays.

If you are an entrant, and you have been placing Public votes---Stop! Place Community votes, not Public votes.

If anyone has questions, please let me know.

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Constantinos Ragazas wrote on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 02:06 GMT
Brandon,

May I humbly suggest the list of finalists be selected as a percentage of the total number of essays? Rather than a fixed number of 35. Thus, this number will automatically adjust depending on the total number of essays. If we were to take, for example, the same percent of final essay in the last contest and apply this to the current contest, the number of finalists would be 54. The top 20% I think would be a fair number.

This is especially important in the current contest with 271 essay over many variety of topics by both physicists and non-physicists. Otherwise, the “professional entries” will dominate the final list and these will likely be limited to the same topics of interest. So in fairness and in scope, I think using percent is better.

I am thoroughly enjoying this contest. Great intellectual stimulation! Thanks!

Constantinos

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 17:24 GMT
Hi Constantinos -- thanks for the suggestion. At this stage in the contest, though, we can't make changes to the official, legally approved rules, which includes the numbers of finalists, the end dates, etc. It is something we will consider for the next time though. Especially if we expect the contest to grow even more, we may need to make various adjustments to the "infrastructure".

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Constantinos Ragazas replied on Sep. 20, 2012 @ 02:27 GMT
Brendan,

I understand! Will 'community rank ties' be treated the same as in the last contest? That is, all tied essays in the community ranking be treated equally the same?

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Sep. 20, 2012 @ 14:46 GMT
Yes, essays with equal scores are in equal place.

err, I'm not sure if what I just wrote makes sense so what I mean is --- as it says in the rules, ratings are only calculated to the first decimal place. If two essays both have an average rating of 9.4, for example, then they occupy the same "place" in the ranking.

Now in fact, when we say "top 35" essays are the finalists, we still allow for a tie at 35th place, which means there may actually be MORE than 35 essays in the final pool. For instance, if the 35th essay has a score of 5.0, and there are 5 more essays that also have 5.0, then we include all those essays in the final pool.

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Anonymous wrote on Sep. 23, 2012 @ 18:27 GMT
I'm sad to discover that the essay I posted, which I so far still believe to be a worthwhile, mathematically curious essay, has generated almost no discussion to speak of, and that apparently it is community-rated middling to low. Certainly I consider my material to be experimental, and it would not surprise me if there are errors either trivial or serious within it, but it seems very much not...

view entire post


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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 14:43 GMT
Hello Peter -- as the contest continues to grow, it could very well be useful (and fun) to introduce additional categories like you suggest. One downside that comes to mind is, Community raters generally don't have the time or inclination to sift through all the essays. Asking for multiple ratings categories will add a tiny bit of mental energy expense that might suppress the amount of voting even more. I wonder if it would be productive to have entrants decide themselves when entering, what category they would want to enter.

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Peter Warwick Morgan replied on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 15:54 GMT
Thanks for your reply, Brendan. Another category that I would like to see would be "Novelty(1-10)". A brainstorming session would throw up something like "I can use this idea(1-10)", which to me is the highest praise there is.

After sifting through whatever might be generated, I'd see it as a line or list of four or five community categories, which anyone could fill in or not, as well as an...

view entire post


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Georgina Parry replied on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 21:35 GMT
Peter has made a very good suggestion to consider for future contests. I would find it easier to vote for aspects of an essay such as relevance (or answering the question), accessibility, lack of errors, novelty, etc. rather than just giving one overall score. Currently the different merits and shortcomings of an essay need to be weighed up to give one final score. That, for me, is the difficult part. It hard to decide what an essay should be fairly awarded. For example should an essay that falls severely outside of the guidelines be marked high or low if it is very well written and fulfils other aspects of the guidance that was given?

It might also discourage the awarding of a score on the basis of a hasty first impression from a quick glance, or reading of the abstract or biography of the author, or tactical voting. Cumulative scores for the different aspects could be collected and then there could be awards for each aspect as well as for those essays scoring top overall in all of the categories. How an essay has performed in the different categories would be useful for authors, who could use that information to evaluate how their work has been received and could then use it as guidance for future writing.

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Anonymous wrote on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 14:05 GMT
I have a question, is authors to rate their own essays, or only other authors essays? Thankyou

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Sep. 24, 2012 @ 14:19 GMT
Authors are free to rate their own entries.

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anonymous replied on Sep. 26, 2012 @ 18:17 GMT
If author does rate(to 10 points) on their own essay, is it fair? Is it valid?

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Sep. 26, 2012 @ 21:12 GMT
The rule is fair in that all authors are free to rate their own work. I'm not sure what is meant by valid--does the rating an author gives to their own work truly represent their opinion of their work? I would hope so.

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Frank Martin DiMeglio wrote on Sep. 26, 2012 @ 11:02 GMT
Brendan and essay contestants. New truths are hard to swallow. A ton of new truth is ever harder to swallow. The truth is NOT what we want the truth to be. The truth is NOT what we think we need the truth to be. The truth is NOT what we think the truth SHOULD be. The truth is NOT what we THINK it is important for the truth to be. Importantly, the truth is important and matters alot BECAUSE it is the truth. Let's not exchange truth here for considerations regarding money, weakness, power, ego, control, and/or selfishness. Be strong.

I want the essays in this contest, including mine, rated fairly, honestly, and competently, and with what I have written above kept in mind.

Now, let's have open minds here people; and courage, confidence, and resolve as well. An unfortunate tendency that I have seen here is to be too narrow and closed minded. If another's essay contradicts or diminishes your essay ideas, should that essay then be ignored, rated low, not rated, or the ideas therein misrepresented? Of course not. This is a super important event, and one for all time.

With the [technological] reconfiguration, loss, and reduction of sensory experience, this contest is far more important than many of you think. No joke.

I am very serious about this contest. Everyone should be.

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Alan Lowey wrote on Sep. 26, 2012 @ 11:29 GMT
Hi Brendan,

Congratulations once again on hosting a superbly successful essay competition. I have a request for *Scientific American* to consider a story on the connection between the Bermuda Triangle shipping loss mystery, Earth flyby anomaly & the quarter before new moon. Believe it or not, the Wikipedia data is an exact match for a monthly 4 day period where *both* unexplained ship loss and Earth flyby anomalies occur. Anyone can check for themselves within a few minutes.

Bermuda Triangle

List of Bermuda Triangle incidents

Earth Flyby anomaly

Moon Phase Calendar 1900-2050

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Juan Ramón González Álvarez wrote on Sep. 27, 2012 @ 14:47 GMT
Dear administrators, several days ago I sent you a message titled "rating of essay topic/138_", using the troubleshooting email link that you give in the orange block of each Essay. I never received any answer.

Today another essay author writes in my forum:

"Hi Juan, I specifically voted as a community member and used my code. I took note of your public rating and number of votes before and after I voted. I have no idea why your public rating was changed instead of your community rating. I wonder if this is a bug.

I'm sure there is a log of site activity that the moderators can check on to see what happened. If you know who to contact, maybe you could contact them and explain the situation. I will vouch for it."

Could someone explain me what is happening with community ratings? Thanks

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Sep. 27, 2012 @ 17:21 GMT
Greetings Juan -- can you repeat your original question here? Your message may be buried in the queue.

With your second question here, the Community ratings are not visible at this time. The person leaving the rating would not see a change in the community rating, because they cannot see the community rating at all. If the Public rating changed, it is presumably because a public rating was also placed during the same period.

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Juan Ramón González Álvarez replied on Sep. 27, 2012 @ 17:59 GMT
Ok, I am going to resend the message to the queue.

Regarding the bug. The same person has written a second message in my forum. He says:

"It turns out that I had voted on a different paper, earlier, using my email address. Even though I specifically used my key to vote on this paper, the cookies apparently processed the vote as per my previous email vote."

I wonder if this is a cookies problem and if someone else is having this same issue. I am not expert but I believe that hitting the F5 key before rating would solve issues as this.

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Peter Jackson replied on Sep. 30, 2012 @ 18:23 GMT
Juan

I have had the same problem. If giving a public rating with Email address, we can't then give any Community ratings even if logged in. I have not tried the F5 key, but simply don't bother with 'public' ratings. As Brendan says, they count for nought and are just a 'bit of fun'.

Peter

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Yuri Danoyan wrote on Sep. 27, 2012 @ 20:09 GMT
Brendan

Is the voting for FQXi members mandatory or voluntary?

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Yuri Danoyan wrote on Sep. 27, 2012 @ 21:35 GMT
How to hold a fair voting without "Throwing the Baby out with the Bath Water"?

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Yuri Danoyan wrote on Sep. 30, 2012 @ 02:28 GMT
Lot of essays does not correspond to the criteria of relevant....

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Sep. 30, 2012 @ 04:32 GMT
Hi Brendan,

There seems to be a problem: I tried to download the essay "On the Foundational Assumptions of Modern Physics" by Benjamin F. Dribus but kept getting the message "File not found"

Lorraine Ford

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Lorraine Ford replied on Oct. 2, 2012 @ 08:44 GMT
The problem now appears to be fixed. (This was the only essay where I had this problem)

Lorraine

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Pentcho Valev wrote on Sep. 30, 2012 @ 05:22 GMT
Sudden and huge climbing up the community rating list is possible in principle but sudden and huge plummeting is impossible unless the rating is manipulated. Fred Diether was number 24-5-6-7 yesterday and is number 100 now. There were similar effects in the past.

I don't regret abandoning the contest - it is unfair.

Pentcho Valev

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Anonymous replied on Sep. 30, 2012 @ 06:29 GMT
I don't know about rating manipulation, but the sociological factors definitely have far greater impact on the rating of an essay compared to its actual quality.

For example, if you are willing to sell your essay by pretending to be interested in other people's essays and make some seemingly intelligent but perfunctory comments on many essays while not forgetting to be nice, then the rating of your own essay will almost certainly go up by a huge margin. Try it and see it for yourself. It is all about who has more energy to do the door-to-door soliciting.

More disturbingly, if you have more friends among the FQXi members and among the participants, then the rating of your essay will be much higher much quickly, and it would stay higher regardless of the quality and contents of your essay. All you then have to do is make some right kind of intelligent sounding noises every once in a while. On the other hand, if you are a genius nobody with a bright idea, then this contest is not for you.

This is almost certainly an interesting sociological exercise than a physics contest. It is an exercise for and about a certain community, not for and about physics.

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Saibal Mitra replied on Oct. 1, 2012 @ 16:03 GMT
Instead of community rating there should have been a community refereeing system, as is costumary at conferences. Participants who have some academic experience (say published more than 3 papers in peer reviewed journals) could be assigned 4 essays which they have to evaluate based on the criteria. Then every essays gets a few reports. The experts then look at all the referee reports and assign a preliminary rating to the essays based on these reports only. The essays then get sorted based on this preliminary rating, the top 35 essays are then evaluated again, but now based on a reading of the essays themselves.

The other essays also get assigned a final rating, but this is then based on the referee reports and the contents of the essay. If one or more of the referee report suggests that the essay is very interesting, then the expert may want to read the essay in detail, otherwise the expert will take a quick look only. Essays that didn't score high due to one or two bad referee reports will then get read and evaluated just like the top essays, while the essays that only have negative referee reports only get looked at quickly.

This way, all the essays will have been read and evaluated rigorously based on the criteria without that being too much of a burden on the community.

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Pentcho Valev replied on Oct. 1, 2012 @ 19:51 GMT
If the "who votes for whom" information were available, at least manipulations of the community rating would be prevented.

Pentcho Valev

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Geoff Haselhurst wrote on Oct. 3, 2012 @ 07:08 GMT
"On the other hand, if you are a genius nobody with a bright idea, then this contest is not for you.

This is almost certainly an interesting sociological exercise than a physics contest. It is an exercise for and about a certain community, not for and about physics." (anonymous, 3 posts above this)

The problem, basically, is that a peer review system does not work, it just propagates existing ideas.

I do not know the solution, but it is truth that we are seeking, not maintaining current dogmatic beliefs.

Really, all essays need to be read by a panel of judges from a diversity of fields, and rated with reasons for their rating. But this is not practical in our busy world!

This is a very big problem for the advancement of human knowledge ...

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Anonymous replied on Oct. 3, 2012 @ 07:53 GMT
I agree, totally.

Peer review system is detrimental to real progress. Not only in physics, but science in general (cf. the attached paper).

This is indeed a very big problem for the advancement of human knowledge ...

Although the Internet and the funding bodies such as FQXi are making a difference.

attachments: jama.pdf

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Anonymous wrote on Oct. 3, 2012 @ 19:34 GMT
This is not cool at all. I was in the first 10 positions at the community rating, and in few minutes I found myself 50 positions below. Being the final days of the competition, and judging by the previous positions, I think that I got many ratings already. How many simultaneous ratings of 1 could I receive in several minutes, to outweigh so much the votes I already had?

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Oct. 3, 2012 @ 21:30 GMT
If anonymous wants to identify him or herself, I will be happy to look into the problem. Or if you prefer, please send an email to mail@fqxi.org.

I have to say a lot of variation in the rankings does happen towards the end as a lot of people rush to place their votes. But of course, if there is a technical issue, we most certainly want to find and fix it as soon as possible.

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Cristinel Stoica replied on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 06:06 GMT
It was me, and in several minutes I went from #7 to #55. I was not active in that day, so I couldn't do nothing to trigger a massive downrating.

Cristi Stoica

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Cristinel Stoica replied on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 17:10 GMT
Thank you, Brendan, for taking care of the problem and successfully solve it.

Best regards,

Cristi Stoica

this post has been edited by the author since its original submission

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George Ellis wrote on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 03:05 GMT
Hi Brendon

something very strange happening with the community voting - like a yoyo.

Has someone been messing with the voting? Giving masses of rankings of 1 to competitors?

George

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Georgina Parry replied on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 05:45 GMT
Hi George,

it's probably just because more people are starting to vote as the time in which votes can be placed is coming to an end soon. It was a bit of a roller coaster ride at the end of last years contest too.

I regret that I haven't been able to read all of the essays but it isn't something I have felt capable of attempting.I think the whole point of having community voting is because it isn't reasonable to expect any one or just a small number of people to thoroughly consider all of the essays. The voting part of the contest is important. There are a very large number of entrants and if they -all vote- on at least some of the essays that they have read then there will be more fairness, as each essay is likely to have been voted on by more people.

Your essay has been very buoyant throughout the contest and you have done a remarkable job of responding diligently to comments on your thread as well as commenting on others. I would be extremely surprised if you were not a finalist after such sustained popularity of your essay. So hold tight and enjoy the ride.

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Christian Corda wrote on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 07:32 GMT
George Ellis' definition of yoyo is adapted to describe our case too. We were in the top ten for various time, then I became #1 two days ago and now I am # 26. Very strange.

Cheers,

Ch

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Cristinel Stoica replied on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 08:09 GMT
That's true. On October 3rd your essay was #1, when mine was #7 (see attachment). Few minutes later mine went to #55.

attachments: Oct._3a.jpg

this post has been edited by the author since its original submission

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Georgina Parry replied on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 08:21 GMT
Dear Joy,

Positions change when people vote. When there are few votes positions can change a lot, as the new vote has a large influence on the average score. When there are more votes the change in position becomes less as the latest vote is just a small part of the new average score. The big fluctuations probably reflect that there has not been much voting going on until recently. That's all I think is going on.

Balance comes from lots of people voting and the position is then more indicative of the communities overall opinion.

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Georgina Parry replied on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 09:36 GMT
Some differences of opinion on the essays is to be expected. Which might lead to wide fluctuations when numbers of votes are low. There is a problem though if people are not using their votes to give an essay a ranking that reflects their opinion of it, based on the various judging criteria but attempt to alter the current level of essays by over or undervaluing them.

It is fairer to give them a reasoned points value irrespective of current position and let overall community voting balance out where the essays end up. There was some concern within the community about the voting last year but Brendan did say, in a post about this contest, that the community had done a good job of selecting the essays last year.

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Peter Jackson wrote on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 10:42 GMT
Brendan

Christi is right, there's definitely serious dishonest trolling going on with collusion and mass 1's being dished out. Mine dropped over 100 places from 3rd to 107th overnight! There is no way that can possibly be from honest voting. You must have the means to find out who it is doing this.

Certainly no essay in the top 40 will honestly deserve a 1 or 2 score from anyone. Perhaps any such obvious dishonest tactical votes should be discounted to ensure non-manipulated results and to save the good name of the contest.

Peter

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Anonymous replied on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 14:01 GMT
I would not say the contest is a farce there are many excellent essays really worth reading quite apart from the rating process. unfortunately there are also many repetitive comments written in a disgruntled tone and some are really worth deleting...

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Peter Jackson wrote on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 11:11 GMT
Pentcho, Brendan.

I agree it will become a farce if allowed to. Constantinos Regazza's well written and pertinent essay also seems to have been targeted in the same very dishonest way for a sudden drop of around 100 places.

I can't comment on the deleted comments as I hadn't read them, but it can't be denied there's a case for that provision, as there is for removing the effects of trolling. You have 'pushed the limit' frequently, though I personally saw nothing I'd think censurable.

Peter

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Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 12:02 GMT
Georgina your good faith is commendable, but I feel that there is more to the yo-yo effect than last minute voting. Besides the possibility of misusing the system discussed in various posts, there is also the possibility of technical programming errors. Peter Jackson's position plummeted some 100 points in a day or two - how can voting do that? Please help him out by reading and rating his essay. Thanks

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Juan Ramón González Álvarez wrote on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 12:51 GMT
I have been placed about 21-26 position during this week and yesterday in 15 minutes my position has dropped below the position 50. The more incredible falling is by Lawrence Crowell. He was in position 2 (see Cristinel Stoica jpg) but was dropped beyond the 100. He is now one position below me.

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster wrote on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 14:20 GMT
Many of you have noticed some surprisingly large changes in the Community rankings in the past few days. In fact, we have discovered an oddity in the voting records. It appears that some entrants are able to vote multiple times for single essays, despite our system safeguards to only allow one vote per essay, per entrant. The multiple votes cause big changes in the rankings, and another big jolt occurs when we clear out the bad votes. We are currently looking into the cause of the multiple votes.

Fortunately, we have complete records of every rating, including who has placed them, so we can quickly locate and remove doubles, if any more occur. Later this morning we will have to do another cleaning, and we will check again when the voting closes this evening. If there is any other sort of technical issue, accidental or malicious, that leads to invalid voting, we always have this ability to check the records.

I apologize on behalf of FQXi and our tech crew for the mishap. I want to assure everyone that the non-multiple ratings remain intact, and the overall rankings will be based on the correct votes. If any of you believe you may have managed to vote twice for an essay inadvertently, please let me know at foster@fqxi.org. Your details can help us better understand the source of the problem.

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Pentcho Valev replied on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 15:32 GMT
Emily Christine Adlam was #20-30 and is now #186. If you know who's giving multiple 1's, why don't you expose him/her?

Pentcho Valev

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 16:14 GMT
As an addendum, I have to point out that you will still see a lot of movement on the charts today due to legitimate voting. Since this is the last day of voting, a lot of people will be voting. And a lot of votes tends to make for a lot of movement.

I can guarantee that by the end of the day, some people above the finalist cut will have fallen below it, and some will climb above it, due solely to heavy but legitimate voting.

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Yuri Danoyan replied on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 17:47 GMT
Now i am voting for Kyriakos second time and well recorded.

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Peter Jackson wrote on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 14:42 GMT
Brendan

Thanks. We should have known you'd be on the case. It was obvious (at least to most!) that there'd been a major glitch. Well done for a massive task this year and brilliant results. Nothing's perfect, especially in physics!

And to Juan; I did like your short 1 page fable.. and hope you don't feel bad if it drops again (Another 15 minutes of fame?) It did kind of sum things up nicely.

Best wishes.

Peter

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Member Benjamin F. Dribus wrote on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 15:25 GMT
Dear all,

Something I've noticed, in addition to the recent volatility, is that the mean community score seems to be distressingly low. Every time I rate an essay below the top 100 it seems to jump 20-30 places, and I have not given many 10's, though I've given a lot of 6's and 7's. I am glad to hear that the recent ratings chaos is due to a glitch rather than deliberate manipulation, but I do wish more people would follow the contest guidelines that request a "supportive atmosphere of scientific conversation rather than a judgmental atmosphere of critical scoring and evaluation."

Most people have put a lot of sincere effort into their work, and it threatens the whole nature of the contest if a large percentage of the contributors are playing "gotcha," either with comments or with ratings. Participation isn't a right, and we'd all be nowhere if FQXi and the sponsors took their ball and went home. It's amazing how some folks behave when afforded anonymity. Anyway, I'm probably preaching to the choir here, because most of the recent comments are by people who have made a major constructive and encouraging contribution on many threads. Take care,

Ben Dribus

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Juan Ramón González Álvarez wrote on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 15:27 GMT
I managed to obtain a copy of an email sent from a member of the FQXi Technical Support (his identity will be disclosed if needed) that confirms that some authors were allowed unlimited voting of essays. This must explain why some people dropped 50-100 positions in about 15 minutes, when all were in the top ranking during one or more weeks.

The email has date of the day 3 and says "This problem was temporary, and has been corrected." Well, it seems that the problem was not corrected.

At the same time, I have seen a pair of essays suddenly ascending lots of positions up to the first positions (about more than 200 positions for the 1-page essay mentioned by Peter) in the same time span.

Moreover, I have also noticed that my public rating and that of people around me has dropped by someone giving us a "1".

this post has been edited by the author since its original submission

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Lawrence B Crowell replied on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 15:52 GMT
I suspect the website have been hacked. If so then this multi-voting ability was conferred by a hacker who put "jokers" in the deck. I think the contest should be declared over based on essay standings as of 24-48 hour ago before this problem showed up. I doubt this is going to be put back right in the time available.

LC

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 16:07 GMT
Hi all -- the problem is easy to handle actually, and the rankings are currently corrected as of the time stamp on this message. The multiple voting is not a widespread problem amongst users; it appears to come from a couple of users, and correcting it is a matter of erasing their votes.

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Pentcho Valev replied on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 16:31 GMT
The rankings are NOT currently corrected. Constantinos Ragazas is still #140 - he was #25-35 a couple of days ago.

Pentcho Valev

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Member Benjamin F. Dribus wrote on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 15:36 GMT
Dear Juan,

I looked at your thread and essay repeatedly over a period of weeks, as we were exchanging messages and I was gathering references from your work. I never kept track of exact rankings, but I seem to recall that you were around 25 or higher for most of the time, at least recently. Right now you're 53. There have been at least 3 separate major shake-ups in the last two days, and it seems all is still not right. Take care,

Ben

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Member Benjamin F. Dribus wrote on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 15:52 GMT
Dear all,

By the way, on an amusing note, I have watched my pathetic "public rating" of 4.9 accumulate and hence know that it consists of something like four 10's, a 9, 7, 6, 3, 2, and six 1's (this may not be exact, but it is close). Most of the 1's have been accompanied by a drop in community rating, so this implies certain participants have been childishly bombing others with low community ratings, logging out, and then giving a public rating of "1" as well. If you look at the public ratings overall, most of them are awful except for those with a very large number of ratings, likely from friends. I suppose this is just human nature, but it augurs badly for our ability to ever escape this planet without blowing ourselves up. Take care,

Ben

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Wilhelmus de Wilde replied on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 16:04 GMT
Dear Ben,

I had the same experience.

Wilhelmus

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John Merryman wrote on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 16:14 GMT
A proper form of punishment would be the publicize the culprits. Possibly eliminate them as well, but publicity would be more painful in the long run, after the contest is over.

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AndyM wrote on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 18:36 GMT
As someone not participating in the contest, but who follows the contest every day and has read many of the essays, I want to share my impression that there may be vote trading and other irregularities this contest, judging by the shifts in the community rankings.

I suggest that after the community ratings are established tonight, in the interests of eliminating any possibility of contest score-fixing, the community scoring made by each reviewer should be made public. AFAIK, no where in the rules does it state that the scoring is or should be anonymous, so this may be a way to root out any problems.

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Stefan Weckbach replied on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 19:02 GMT
Dear AndyM,

i think your idea is not the worst idea here in the contest :-)!

Maybe we will see clearer after the community voting is closed... I too am interested in the votings and ecspecially in those ones who voted one essay multiple times!!!!

Best wishes,

Stefan

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Yuri Danoyan wrote on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 19:07 GMT
My advice to Max Tegmark

You are not have enough time until October 5, 11.59 pm.

Voting system working incorrectly and non stable.

You have two ways out of the situation.

1.Conceal voting results and read the contest not valid.

2.Personnaly view all 270 papers and 35 to choose worthy.

With your brilliance capacity is no hard to do.

May by can help two others members of Advisory Council Frank Wilczek and John Barrrow.

Split the work between the three, let each one look 90 works.

Sincerely

Yuri Danoyan

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 04:44 GMT
Dear Brendan Foster,

At 12:00 Eastern time I was number 21 with 38 ratings, and this and **all other** rankings held constant for half an hour (I have printouts of both). Then at 12:32 all numbers changed and I went to number 36 with 37 ratings, while several others were pushed up to around position 20.

I would not think a modern computer would take a half hour to average and rank numbers and I'm curious as to how the number of ratings can decrease after remaining constant.

Thanks,

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Pentcho Valev replied on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 05:18 GMT
Jonathan Kerr dropped by 70 positions at the last minute. Good contest!

Pentcho Valev

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Anonymous replied on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 06:18 GMT
and some FQXi members advanced with 40-50 positions, to the top 10-20 positions

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Cristinel Stoica wrote on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 04:45 GMT
How could I drop, AFTER CLOSING of community voting, from #23 to #35? Why did the number of votes drop from 37 to 34?

Let me detail:

00:01, #23

00:10, #35

02:55, #44

attachments: 1._immediately_after_closing.jpg, 2._few_minutes_later.jpg

this post has been edited by the author since its original submission

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Cristinel Stoica replied on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 06:57 GMT
To recap: 7 hours before closing I went to sleep on #13. Immediately after closing, I was on #23. Few minutes after closing, on #35 (at limit). Now, almost 3 hrs after closing, on #44.

attachments: 3._almost_three_hours_later.jpg

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George Ellis wrote on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 04:51 GMT
Hi all

we have Brendon's word that they can see multiple voting and sort it out, so the final ratings are correct. Thanks for fixing it, Brendon; presumably the technical glitch will be fixed next time.

There remain two serious problems.

The first is the people who took part in the vote manipulation and multiple voting. Brendon knows who they are. They should simply be excluded from any further participation in any FQXI event. This kind of behaviour should have consequences. These people are not imbued with the spirit Georgina hopes for.

Second is the problem of unacceptable postings. I have been subjected to some serious hate mail and some very unpleasant posts. What is needed is a facility that automatically excludes an individual from making any further postings on a particular thread once they have had three postings on that thread deleted by the owner, with the deletions being verified by the administrator (the latter of course being needed so that one can't delete stuff just because it is critical).

Critical comments regarding technical issues are fine; simple trashing is not. Hate posting should exclude one from the entire competition.

Apart from that it's been a great competition, with some good essays and some great discussions. Thanks for organising it!

George Ellis

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Cristinel Stoica replied on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 07:19 GMT
Should we take FQXi's word that everything is OK, when I dropped from #23 at 0:01, immediately after closing, to #44 at three hours after closing?

This reminds me of the first FQXi contest, when my essay was on #1-2 at equality with Rovelli's, leading with 7 points, when the next had 4, at the time when the votes were scheduled to close (Dec. 15). I was the only non-member in the top 10, but the end was delayed to gather more votes, and I ended up without any award. I attach a picture taken the next day after the vote was supposed to close.

The things are not transparent at all.

attachments: restricted_votes_deadline.gif, restricted_votes_20081216_19.gif

this post has been edited by the author since its original submission

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Pentcho Valev replied on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 07:36 GMT
You are correct, Cristi, but the problem is that your thoughts would be entirely different if you were still #23. That is the trouble with "little known or independent researchers".

Pentcho Valev

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Cristinel Stoica replied on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 09:38 GMT
Are you accusing me of what you believe I would do in a parallel universe, Pentcho Valev?

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Yuri Danoyan wrote on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 04:54 GMT
Brendan,

Can it be considered a list of 35 final?

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Robert H McEachern wrote on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 05:25 GMT
A few hours before the voting ending, my essay was #6 in the community rating.

10 minutes after voting was supposed to have stopped, and the ratings were posted, my essay was #20, with a community rating of 4.4, with 36 raters.

30 Minutes after voting was supposed to have stopped, my essay was #31 with a rating of 4.3 and 37 raters.

60 minutes after rating was supposed to have stopped, my essay was #37, with a rating of 4.2, with 38 raters. In other words, my essay received at least two rating = 1, long after ratings were supposed to have stopped, and the "final" results were supposedly being posted.

Rob McEachern

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George Ellis wrote on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 05:42 GMT
Well that and all similar anomalies certainly needs looking into.

George

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AndyM wrote on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 06:24 GMT
I believe as of now 2:15am EDT, the scores are still changing. Whether that is due to a lag in processing the ratings or that the software is still allowing ratings to be made probably should be looked in to.

As a non-participant,I urge everyone to not take criticisms of their essays personally. There is no call to be impolite or feel personally offended by someone's scientific opinion. Remember that your work stands independently of your ego. Of course, insults should not be made nor tolerated.

Thanks to all of the participants for sharing your ideas and providing such interesting reading these last few months.

Andy

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John Merryman wrote on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 12:41 GMT
The nature of both reality and the judging is difficult to pin down. As George observes, the nature of the whole can be hard to deduce from the observable parts.

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Thomas Howard Ray wrote on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 12:50 GMT
Cristi,

I don't think that there's any conspiracy to elevate club members or to restrict outsiders. It's that the structure of the contest, for better or worse, permits an overwhelming number of unqualified people to make irrational judgments.

For instance, in the last hours, some participant told me that he rated my essay a '10' on the basis of having read the abstract and a one-sentence conclusion -- with an implied message that I do the same for him. I expect that many more than that rated me on the low side for similar irrational reasons.

That's not the fault of the contest organizers. It's endemic to any contest that has open voting by people of diverse levels, and extremes, of knowledge. The process evens out for well known scientists, because the added factor of being known usually works in their favor; i.e., unknowledgeable raters will tend to err on the side of popular opinion -- though this can be a 2-edged sword for well known but unpopular scientists.

You'll notice that in the group immediately following the cutoff point (which includes you and me), there are usually a high number of ratings -- in the 30's -- while there are a significant number of essays above the cut with a low number of ratings, and some barely above the minimum 10 (in fact, one is an illegal 8, which I expect will be corrected) -- but with sufficient scores. This strongly indicates either irrational voting, or tactical voting by some with no chance in the contest, attempting to "vote down" the competitors they do not favor rather than "voting up" by rational judgment -- and probably a combination of the two.

Science is a rationalist enterprise, while open essay contests don't necessarily work that way. I see no resolution until or unless FQXi tightens its entry requirements, to blunt the effect of irrational judgments. I see no cure for petty jealousy, however, in any conceivable system.

Tom

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Cristinel Stoica replied on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 13:13 GMT
Tom, what I said was about the huge changes that took place AFTER the voting closed and the results were displayed. For me, were erased three votes averaging at 9, which moved me from 23 to 44. I am not the only one, and I presume this is not the most dramatic change. Just compare the results at 00:01 with those at this time. You are talking about a different issue :)

this post has been edited by the author since its original submission

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Thomas Howard Ray replied on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 13:19 GMT
Cristi,

It's the same issue. Just because the voting closes doesn't mean the count is correct until audited. I expect the system audit (duplicate votes) produced the errors, as Brendan said. Those errors can downgrade as well as elevate.

Tom

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Pentcho Valev replied on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 13:27 GMT
The "final" results posted and then audited? Strange.

Pentcho Valev

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster wrote on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 14:31 GMT
Hello everyone -- Unfortunately, we have had another technical issue that meant people were still able to place votes after the official deadline. Many of you have noticed motion in the rankings after midnight, and this was the cause.

We have now successfully shut down the voting. We will need now to remove all the votes placed after the deadline. So, I am very sorry, but the results displayed on screen are not the final results. I expect we will have the correct, final results displayed later today.

I apologize again for the confusion. For the time being, I am going to once again hide the community ratings, until we have them corrected. I want to emphasize again that we have the full records of the correct, valid ratings placed up until the deadline. All we need to do at this point is have the post-deadline ratings removed.

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 14:58 GMT
Greetings everyone---I am now happy to declare that the correct, official ratings are now displayed. As I said, we had to remove several votes cast after midnight, but all the valid, pre-deadline ratings are still intact.

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Cristinel Stoica replied on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 15:07 GMT
Hi Brendan,

It is not only that votes were placed after midnight, they were also removed. See the attached page, saved at 0:01.

Good luck,

Cristi

attachments: FQXi_Community_October_6_0h01min.mht

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Cristinel Stoica replied on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 15:17 GMT
Brendan, you posted a wrong "final ratings". In my previous comment, I attached an mht file containing the community rating page, as it was at 0:01. To see it, download it on the computer and open with IE or other browser. In this page it is a totally different order, for example I am at #23, as I was also before midnight. On the new one, three votes of about 9 points were removed from my votes, and I dropped on #38. I attach again a screenshot took at 0:01. How is it possible that at 0:01 there was an order, and now you come with a totally different one, and say that this is what it was at midnight?

attachments: 1_1._immediately_after_closing.jpg

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John Merryman wrote on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 15:12 GMT
We can think of this as physics, where pressure/scalar is converted to flow/vector.

Both content and mechanism play a part and while we many be focused on content, the influences of the mechanism cannot be overlooked.

The larger and long term issue is whether the premise of this contest and FQXi, questioning foundational assumptions, as opposed to extending the current paradigm ever further into the realm of untestability, gains traction in the physics community.

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster wrote on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 15:17 GMT
Despite our technical issues, I can now report that the official results are set. If you will count down 35 spots, you will find that we have a tie at the cut-off (4.3) so that we will have 36 finalists. This year was bigger by far than any previous year, so we will give a lot of thought on how to evolve as the contest grows. Congratulations to the finalists, and thank you to everyone who has taken part in the contest.

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Cristinel Stoica replied on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 15:24 GMT
I had 4.3 at midnight, and after 13 minutes I saw someone removed three of my highest votes, so I ended up with 4.2. Please fix it. I sent you the page, and screenshots. Please stop ignoring my testimony and the evidence I attach.

attachments: 2_1._immediately_after_closing.jpg, 1_2._few_minutes_later.jpg

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Cristinel Stoica replied on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 15:30 GMT
Also, with my 4.3 I was on #23, and the #35th had 4.0. The changes made after closing the voting raised some of the essays and dropped the others, I am not the only one in this situation. Some were dropped under the line, and others were raised, AFTER 0:01.

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Cristinel Stoica replied on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 15:58 GMT
The following essays were present in the original list, which I saved at 0:01, and are missing from the list Brendan claims now it is the correct one:

_____________________________________

Did God Divide by Zero? by Cristinel Stoica, 104 posts - created by Cristinel Stoica - Aug. 6, 2012 @ 14:46 GMT, Community Rating: 4.3 (37 ratings) Public Rating: 5.4 (8 ratings)

Is...

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Steve Dufourny Jedi wrote on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 15:41 GMT
Frankly, all my pc is checked and bizare. It is irritating.

A team implies confusions.They must be found and punished simply because the hacking is not permitted simply. The laws exist !!! The bad persons must be found and sorted with or without their approvements in fact. It is not acceptable simply.

Regards

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Yuri Danoyan wrote on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 15:45 GMT
My rating 3.6(38)

I know that 10 people have rated me 10

If the remaining 28 people gave me 2 points

Then my rating should be 10x10 +28 x2 = 156/38 = 4.1

Max and Brendan you liars and you should be brought to justice

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Observer replied on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 15:55 GMT
Well there you have evidence of the kind of kind of collusion in voting that many have suspected.

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Juan Ramón González Álvarez wrote on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 15:48 GMT
Dear Brendan,

Can I take this as definitive official result and twitter to my followers about the contest and link to the community ranking page?

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Yuri Danoyan wrote on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 16:00 GMT
Show me a printout all history 3.6...

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Pentcho Valev wrote on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 16:08 GMT
Concerning deletion of votes. The following complaint is on this page (Sep. 10, 2012 @ 18:36 GMT). It explains everything:

"Dear Brendan Foster, I noticed a week or so ago that my number of comments went from 203 to 201 and this morning I note that the number went from 224 to 222. I have not asked that any comments be removed, and, because I and my guests have written many interesting comments, I do not want them removed. Can you tell me what's going on here? There were, to my knowledge no insults or incorrect statements of fact that would justify even the consideration of such removal, and I do not think it should be possible for others to remove arguments that they do not like. Is there any way to track such removals, and have them restored. I know that you are already under a tremendous workload, but I believe this is a significant problem. Believing these comments are 'permanent' I have not been backing them up, and many comments take quite a bit of thought and effort. For someone to erase these, for whatever reason, is not right. Thanks for your consideration. Edwin Eugene Klingman"

Pentcho Valev

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Yuri Danoyan wrote on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 16:45 GMT
17 For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad.(St Luke,Chapter 8)

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Don Limuti wrote on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 17:47 GMT
Hi Brendan,

When things go wrong, I always look for incompetence before enemy action. I believe your web team is seriously incompetent. The first hint was when new entries went straight to the top of the community voting. This was a hint of things to come.

My thought is that the contest logic is faulty and was taken advantage of by some contestants intentionally and not intentionally.

If these problems are not incompetence and are actually enemy action, the problem is most likely a member of the web team who has an ax to grind with FQXi. This is more likely than an outside hack.

In my humble opinion.

And I believe you can handle it.

It is still a great contest (and a wonderful bazaar).

Don L.

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Joseph Bisognano wrote on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 18:26 GMT
After reading some posts, especially of Christinel Stoica in particular, I'm very troubled by the voting process and its integrity. I don't think it will ever feel fair. In order to clear the air, I would suggest that the committee that is to judge the finalist be given the perogative to include essays in their considerations that bounced in and out of the select thirty-five during the last day.

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Georgina Parry replied on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 23:49 GMT
I think this is a very good suggestion, so long as non of them are involved in any way with the vote tampering. It will have been heartbreaking especially for those who had thought they were finalists but then had their essay drop out of the list after the deadline. Though it may not have been the fault of the organisers I think they could offer to make matters better by including those few essays. In recognition of the particular stress put upon those competitors and the sense of injustice or personal hurt they must feel.

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 18:34 GMT
Some comments:

Tom wrote on Oct 6, 2012 @ 12:50: "I don't think that there's any conspiracy to elevate club members or to restrict outsiders. It's that the structure of the contest, for better or worse, permits an overwhelming number of unqualified people to make irrational judgments." He then gives an example of such.

I believe Tom is wrong. If an essay is accepted, then the author...

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Pentcho Valev replied on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 19:42 GMT
Edwin,

You wrote: "we still end up with the 'best' ideas floating to the top."

Mass one-rating, as is the case in this contest, makes this absolutely impossible. An essay at the bottom of the rating list, e.g. Ronald L Bennett's one, could be much more valuable than Benjamin Dribus' top triviality. In addition, there has been mass deletion of unwanted comments and votes.

Pentcho Valev

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Armin Nikkhah Shirazi replied on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 20:11 GMT
Edwin,

I think that anonymous person you quote has given an accurate description of this essay contest. Perhaps you really are that naive that you couldn't imagine that his comment has any relation to what is really going on, or it may be that you haven't actually tried to look at the evidence.

Just go to the fora of the low rated essays, and look at the comments given by some of top rated essay authors, especially when they are really close to the deadline. The description I heard someone give some time ago of that this essay is a "popularity contest" seems exquisitely accurate.

But, don't let me tell you what to believe, do make an effort and look at the evidence for yourself.

And for the record, I'm not in the top 36, but even if I were my opinion would be unchanged. In fact, before this essay contest even got started I had sent Max Tegmark an email on an unrelated matter but also included the suggestion not to make voting a feature of these contests. I think it is a horrible idea that seriously compromises its intended purpose.

Armin

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Edwin Eugene Klingman replied on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 21:21 GMT
Dear Pentcho and Armin,

I am not happy with the voting irregularities and there are certainly 'sociological' issues involved. That's the nature of the beast. I am not happy with the results of voting for 300 million Americans, either, but we have a 'one man, one vote' system, flawed as it is. Last night a number of students on a University campus were asked "Was it fair that Obama couldn't...

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Yuri Danoyan wrote on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 18:58 GMT
Dear Ms Patricia M. Gruber

You are member of Advisory Council FQXi and Essay Contest Partner.

I would like to inform you about some collision happening in 2012 FQXi Contest

I sending copy my letter

to Scientific Director FQXi Dr.Max Tegmark.

All my letters to him are ignoring and left without answer.

Sincerely

Entrant of Contest 2012

Yuri Danoyan

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Yuri Danoyan wrote on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 19:06 GMT
Max and Brendan

I send also letter to Essay Contest Partner Scientific American

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Yuri Danoyan replied on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 20:30 GMT
I was in second place day before

Now number 100....

What happen when 28 peoples gave me low scores?

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Frank Martin DiMeglio wrote on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 19:21 GMT
Brendan -- Direct bodily experience (seen, felt, AND touched) fundamentally and generally unifies physics.

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Armin Nikkhah Shirazi wrote on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 20:40 GMT
Just a thought: on a traditional grading scale, anything below a 6.0 to 6.3 would be considered an F, "fail". Interesting to observe that not a single essay managed to go above that, and that only 5 out of 270 essays managed to score above 5.0.

So much for the credibility of the votes. FQXi might have as well picked 35 essays at random.

Armin

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M. V. Vasilyeva replied on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 21:28 GMT
Armin, clearly, this is because the people who deserved 1's and 2's were bombing those who deserved high ratings. The people behind these manipulations display sheer lack of maturity and basic civility. Why are they interested in physics?

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M. V. Vasilyeva wrote on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 21:22 GMT
I think it is unfair to turn Brendan and other organizers into scapegoats, while from the start there were obvious alliances forming among a certain group of contestants, just like in a TV game of Survivor. Some were so bold as to post their intent openly, addressed in the same form on a number of threads. Others fished around throwing more or less clear hints. And Mr. Danoyan openly confesses above, "I know that 10 people have rated me 10."

Why, Mr. Danoyan, how do you know that? Was the same expected from you in return? Did you oblige?

I find it astonishing that the same persons now act the offended party. And then of course there was a group of noisy, flamboyant schmoozers.. This contest was more of a social game than sharing of ideas. But this is only the reflection on "who won" and "how". Still, many essays at the top are very good. But agree that many are just iterations of old platitudes, some written in more entertaining style than others, and some are real sleepers without a word of original content.

It was a very interesting experience for me. I am not disappointed at all and hope the forum stays open for a while, so that I could continue discussion and get feedback.

Thank you Brendan! It must have been hard having to deal with all these manipulations and then be blamed by the very people behind it.

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Armin Nikkhah Shirazi replied on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 22:21 GMT
Dear M.V,

You made an astute observation about Yuri Danoyan, one of the ways in which he tried to manipulate the voting was to spam me (and presumably other authors) more than once with personal emails with links to his essay.

I assume that it was not Brendan's decision to have voting system in place, and if that is correct, I agree with your comments that the current eruption of frustration is unfair to him.

But somebody came up with this voting system, and it would be great if this matter was up for serious reconsideration.

I am glad that you enjoyed the experience and hope that you will decide to enter the next round, hopefully without the voting feature.

Armin

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M. V. Vasilyeva replied on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 01:53 GMT
The system was designed by civilized people for civilized people. It is not the system's fault that some participants were paranoid types seeing conspiracies against them everywhere and so they felt that they had to band as a group and support each other with high ratings while bombing what they considered the establishment. I saw such a plan posted openly on several threads. The question is, how the author so approached should react? Inform organizers? Ignore the solicitors? Act evasively? Hint a promise and hope they will go away?

This is a difficult problem.

There were clearly alliances of two types, one primitive, the other one complex. Both were plainly visible. Perhaps there is a solution for the first type, but I doubt anything can be done about the other.

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Armin Nikkhah Shirazi replied on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 02:11 GMT
Dear M.V.,

Yes, of course we are civilized, but that doesn't mean that competitive urges etc. will not compel taking advantage of the system whenever it is possible.

When you say "I doubt anything can be done about the other", clearly discarding the author voting system would be one thing that can be done about it.

I mentioned elsewhere the problems author voting brings about, such as inhibiting honest discussion and feedback, encouraging people to manipulate votes, excess spamming of fora etc. so in light of these problems I wonder why you think that it is a good idea to be able to vote as an author on other essays? If you want to provide feedback on an essay, why is it not adequate just to write a comment? What is a value to being able to assign a number to the essay of a co-author with the knowledge that they can do the same to yours?

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Karl Coryat wrote on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 23:22 GMT
Nobody has mentioned this, but I see a problem with the 1-10 rating scale. It allows entrants who give, say, 1's and 10's to outweigh those who would honestly rate the same essays a 4 and a 6. In other words, ratings-exaggerators automatically self-select to have a greater effect on the competition than honest raters. This is a serious flaw. A 1-3 rating scale instead, or perhaps a thumbs-up/thumbs-down model, would at least level the playing field in that respect.

I also don't see what prevents a person from submitting one or more nonsense essays under false names, thereby getting to rate their own real essay dishonestly and in a way that isn't traceable. I would bet that this happened at least once in this contest and probably previous ones as well.

So, I'd like to see a higher standard for entry qualification. A 6- or 12-hour delay in the community ratings might be helpful as well. If FQXi really wanted to tighten up the contest, it could weigh the ratings entered by members and previous essay finalists three times that of ordinary entrants, and weigh those of the judges three times greater still. If members and previous finalists have a greater influence on the rankings, I believe the final rankings would be much more true.

This is a great competition, but we need to tighten up the ship!

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Armin Nikkhah Shirazi replied on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 23:56 GMT
Hi Karl,

I think you have identified one part of the problem that has not been discussed yet with the rating scale. I wonder why you think that previous essay finalists are more qualified than ordinary entrants to judge the essays? Also, what would be the purpose of the proposed delay in community ratings?

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Daryl Janzen replied on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 00:05 GMT
I agree with Armin's comment. What do you guys think of the idea I've posted below?

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Daryl Janzen wrote on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 00:02 GMT
Dear All: please read and respond.

Every one of us---including Brendan and the others at FQXi, I'm sure!---has seen that there is a deep flaw in the voting scheme. It was obvious to everyone during the past few days that a number of people were scoring 1s to bring down others' average community rating. I'm sure none of us had imagined the full extent to which this was happening, so that...

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Anonymous replied on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 00:18 GMT
Hi Daryl,

Armin made a specific proposal above [Oct 6, 2012 @ 23:50]:

"1. At minimum, if an author voting absolutely is decided to be in place, do not allow people to see the community ranking. The fact that the rankings are evident immediately introduces an extraneous consideration in rating that has nothing to do with the merits of the essay. Also, if someone in the forum of an author discloses that they gave a high rating, this should be reportable and grounds for some kind of repercussion."

I think that if the scores were not displayed it would go a long way toward alleviating some of the incentives at work and would tend to shift the focus to the quality of the essay rather than relative rankings.

If the votes were hidden, I'm not sure which calculational scheme is best, yours or the current one.

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Armin Nikkhah Shirazi replied on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 00:32 GMT
Hi Daryl,

I think it is good that you are trying to come up with a constructive alternative, but I believe your proposition has a serious flaw.

If the ratings are based on running totals, by which I assume you mean just the total point value accumulated regardless of the number of voters who contribute to it, then those whose essays are voted on by the largest number of people automatically have an advantage.

For example, an essay that receives eleven 1's would then be ahead of an essay that receives a single 10. I think that is even worse than the current system.

If by "running total" you meant total points divided by the number of voters, then I cannot see how it is different from the current system.

Anyway, in my view the author voting feature should be totally gotten rid of. Then :

1) people would be more comfortable stating their honest opinions in the fora of other authors, they would feel more free to criticize the ideas of others without the consideration of possible retaliation, and that would ultimately facilitate a more productive exchange of ideas

2) the votes would be less likely to be influenced by friendship, lobbying or "celebrity" status (although I concede that the judges may not be immune to these types of bias either)

3) The fora would be less spammed with people who try to curry favor and lobby for their essays

Armin

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Jeff Baugher replied on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 00:55 GMT
I would have to agree that Daryl's idea is more agreeable than what is currently used. I also disagree with any type of repercussions since one of the aspects of this contest is to hopefully bring together disparate individuals who may be able to develop a like minded consensus. In other words, I would rank someone else's essay highly if I thought it pertained to the same problem I was espousing, and I see no problem letting them and other readers know that. I would like to be able to discuss their essay freely without worrying that perhaps I had crossed some arbitrary boundary.

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Constantinos Ragazas wrote on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 00:22 GMT
Dear Brendan,

This is a great contest and FQXi should be credited for creating this public square where many diverse ideas can be exchanged. What makes FQXi so unique is its open and uncensored policy on posts and essays. The many important benefits from this policy far outweigh the few abuses. So we shouldn't seek to change things too much.

But here is a simple suggestion I feel will eliminate most of the voting irregularities many have complained about. Simply, while the community rating is going on, disable the 'community ranking' option. It's difficult to 'make deals' when you don't know who's up and who's down.

Constantinos

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Georgina Parry replied on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 01:28 GMT
Thank you Constantinos for reminding us what is good about this particular contest.I agree with you that FQXi provides a great web site and the competition is another marvellous opportunity to present and talk about various physics ideas. In most other contests entries are submitted and nothing more is heard of them until winners are announced. Nothing is learned of the essays, or ideas in them, that are not presented as the winners.

For all its faults at least in this contest we can see the other entries and consider the ideas and presentation of them for ourselves. It also gives the opportunity to meet others who find our ideas interesting or have interesting ideas of their own and have enjoyable and maybe even fruitful conversations. I would really like the social aspect of the contest to somehow survive even if community voting is superseded.

Perhaps each week of the contest just 10 or 20 essays could be presented to the community, who can then discuss and vote on those particular ones. So on until all of the essays have been given the same amount of time for consideration by the community. Maybe community voting should be replaced too and only the ability to see and comment retained. Would it be possible to get on board a large panel of volunteers, from various universities, who are undergraduate and postgraduate students but not competitors in the contest? Their opinions, as well as those of interested but not competing FQXi members, could then be taken into account. IE scrapping author voting entirely.

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Armin Nikkhah Shirazi replied on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 01:41 GMT
Hi Georgina,

As in the last several posts I have vociferously criticized the author voting feature of this contest, let me to counterbalance those comments by stating explicitly that I completely agree with the point you made about this being "a marvelous opportunity to present and talk about various physics ideas" and that this is far better than what happens at most other contests.

I believe though that this exchange could be even better-possibly far better-if it was not hampered by the worry (or just even the fleeting thought) that any comment that might be negatively construed could result in one's essay suffering a drop in rating.

To me, the author voting feature is like a Trojan Horse. Yes, it stimulates additional engagement, but not the kind you really want in a scientific debate. It is nice to receive compliments, positive comments and so on, but how much do they really help you improve your ideas and grow, as opposed to a comment that points out a mistake?

If there was a an idea that was sure to inhibit this kind of feedback, author voting is it.

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Daryl Janzen replied on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 02:24 GMT
Armin:

I disagree again. I've had disagreements of a sizable magnitude, and e.g. Jonathan Kerr and I have had a pretty good debate here, and still the two of us respect each other a lot and he graciously congratulated me on advancing.

I also disagree with your assessment of the author voting system. As you are aware, in what I've proposed another author's vote---even a 1!---can only help someone get through to the list of finalists. So although peer assessment is flawed in the current system, it's not absolutely flawed.

Daryl

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Yuri Danoyan wrote on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 01:48 GMT
Main problem of this contest- disgusting voting system, which could not be repaired until last moment.The system should be reliable protected from internal

actions.Brendan has a great responsibility for this problem.

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Yuri Danoyan replied on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 02:01 GMT
I'm happy to have helped many of the 35 rating up and gave them 10 points

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Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 02:44 GMT
Thank you Brendan and the fqxi staff for patiently putting up with all the problems generated during this year's contest. It was fun and instructive nevertheless with many fine essays, most (?) from new contributors.

I like Constantinos' positive comments and his idea that community ratings should not be visible until all voting is finished. But that will give undue importance to Public rating - so I think that should be scrapped altogether. I think Georgina's suggestion of only offering 10 or 20 essays at a time for voting suffers from the fact that one has to follow all these postings week by week, otherwise many essays will be unfairly missed. But I like Georgina's suggestion to:

"get on board a large panel of volunteers, from various universities, who are undergraduate and postgraduate students but not competitors in the contest?"- but why not professors as well?

Finally I agree with Armin's comments about community voting - but up to a point. I wonder if it would be useful to limit each contestant to a limited number of votes - perhaps 3, that can only be given at the end of the contest?

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Georgina Parry replied on Oct. 8, 2012 @ 01:17 GMT
Hi Vladimir,

In this contest, my personal experience has been that, it has not been possible to review all of the essays - despite considerable effort. There are just too many and life goes on beyond the competition. So that situation wouldn't alter if just a selection of essays was presented each week.It wouldn't matter if all essays were not looked at by everyone, so long as a sufficient number of reviewers looked at them on any particular week.

It might be possible to have different categories each week, such as essays about relativity, essays about reductionism , essays considering the role of information and so on and then ones that don't fit easily into any other category. Reviewers could then choose to look at a number of topics that they are most interested in and in which they have more knowledgeable and possibly expertise.

You wrote in reply to my earlier suggestion "get on board a large panel of volunteers, from various universities, who are undergraduate and postgraduate students but not competitors in the contest?"- but why not professors as well?

It would be great if professors would want to be involved too. I just thought they might have less reason for wanting to be involved. A student might quite like to say on their CV that they have been on the independent essay selection panel for the FQXi contest in their spare time. They would probably be very happy with just a little FQXi button badge in return, I would have been as a student.

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Vladimir F. Tamari replied on Oct. 8, 2012 @ 03:33 GMT
Hi Georgina

You are right - it is impossible to review them all - I read and rated about 80 essays.

Putting categories to essay may have advantages for allowing reviewers to choose which essay to read - according to your scheme. This however carries two problems - many essays cannot be easily categorized as they touch on many subjects, or perhaps 'new' subjects.

The other more serious problem in my view is that a reviewer who is a recognized expert in, say, Special Relativity, will have set views, and would not look kindly on essays that challenge SR. This would defeat the whole purpose of fqxi to break new ground.

I wonder what will next year's contest be about, and which of our rating suggestions, if any, will be adopted?

Another item to mention here is that it was not clear to me what the ground rules for promoting essays one believes worthy of such favor. I sent a group message recommending essays by authors I had introduced to the contest,but a friend told me that was frowned upon, so I stopped doing that.

Cheers

Vladimir

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Georgina Parry replied on Oct. 8, 2012 @ 06:48 GMT
Hi Vladimir,

you are right about the possible (maybe unintentional) bias; however that happens whether the essays are categorised, or left as one muddled collection; leaving the selection of what to read / when entirely up to the reviewer. Another solution though might be to have different categories for different styles of writing rather than subject, that are shown to the community at different times. I think parts of the whole category would be best as too much of any one style might be difficult to cope with, and not be representative of the contest as a whole.)

Some feedback from the organisers to the community on what they thought was good about the contest and what they liked about the general conduct of the community would be good (I think that generally there was a great deal of good discussion and respect for other people's opinions). Despite the problems FQXi has still been fantastic hosting a competition of this size, where all of the essays were available and could be commented upon. That worked very well, at least for me. There was no trouble seeing any of the papers or being able to comment throughout the whole contest.A number of people have commented on their threads that they are not bothered about votes but are only in the contest to show and discuss their work.

I really think it important to concentrate on the positives rather than let the activity of a few spoilsports or cheats detract from such a brilliant and unique event. If there was other conduct the organisers did not like, other than voting irregularity, perhaps that could be highlighted as unwanted in the guidelines for the next contest.

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Saibal Mitra wrote on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 02:52 GMT
As I wrote a few days ago above, there shouldn't be any voting at all. It's not that difficult to set up a refereeing system that isn't too much of a burden on the community here, I made a suggestion for that. That has the benefit that all essays end up being judged according to the relevant criteria, and the best ones will get an extra review by the expert judges.

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John Merryman wrote on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 02:55 GMT
What did Churchill say? Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.

I have to agree with Yuri, that the technical workings left something to be desired.

The politicalization of voting has occurred in all the contests. I don't see any way to really separate it from voting for those with similar ideas, even if it seems like vote trading. Blocs happen.

Georgina had an interesting idea, further up the thread, about having different categories. What they might be might depend on what the next subject is. Have a couple of positive categories, like most focused on the subject, most original, then have an "ignoble," nuttiest idea category. That might relieve some of the attitude voting. Another might be a comprehensible/incomprehensible scale category.

Another idea might be to not make only those at the top of the list eligible for the finals and let the judges just use the community votes as suggestions. Then there won't be as much cutthroat competition to make the finals, but to make one's abstract as clear, convincing and interesting as possible.

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Armin Nikkhah Shirazi wrote on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 03:27 GMT
To all:

Since some people have asked me for an alternative suggestion to author voting, let me mention as an example one procedure that I can think of here. This is not entirely an original idea, it is inspired by the procedure used to grade Advanced Placement essays.

One could assemble a group of preliminary judges, each of whom is assigned to a manageable number of essays. Each essay would be guaranteed to be rated by two preliminary judges, and if the ratings of the judges (given without the knowledge the other judge's rating) differ from each other by more than a certain amount, it would be read and rated in addition by a third preliminary judge. It would probably help to make the process more efficient if the rating scale was less differentiated, e.g. 1-4 or 1-3. Each group of preliminary judges would then submit the top essays in their group (the finalists) to the group of final judges who select the winners from the finalists.

As a concrete example, if one considers 30 essays a "manageable number" then for 270 essays this procedure would require somewhere between 18 (2 ratings/essay) to 27 (3 ratings/essay) preliminary judges. I have no idea whether it is within the ability of FQXi to assemble this number of judges, but it does not strike me as outlandish.

So here is a constructive suggestion in addition to my criticism.

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M. V. Vasilyeva wrote on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 04:00 GMT
Armin,

but who will pay for those judges work? I doubt there will be volunteers. It's a hard work.

The need to solicit ratings is not as bad, as you paint it, because it forces one to get involved with others in a positive way.

I think Daryl's idea is good. Also what John and Georgina suggested, categories of ratings, is a good idea and it would work with another type of a system from Daryl's.

Luckily, it is not up to us to make those hard decisions.

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Armin Nikkhah Shirazi replied on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 04:15 GMT
Well, peer review for journals for example is unpaid. Again, I have no idea how many judges can be realistically assembled and how many essays one can reasonably ask each person to rate. I used the 30 number based on the assumption that all the final 35 essays will be read by all the judges, and if that is correct, it would mean that they would consider that, at least, a manageable number. Having this sort of information available instead of having to guess would permit devising a system that fits within the given constraints.

But in any event, I tried to make the argument against author voting in the various posts above, and I believe the case is very strong, but you are of course correct, it is up to FQXi to make the call in future contests.

All the best,

Armin

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Anonymous wrote on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 04:55 GMT
This contest shows very good intentions of the sponsors, and at least of some of the organizers. It also gave the possibility to have interesting conversations about interesting ideas.

The problem of the human nature which is easily tempted to use the rating system in one's favor, and not to really rate the essays, was present in previous editions, and nothing was done to be fixed. One simple idea would be to have three groups, A, B, C, each with its own set of prizes, and A votes for B, B votes for C, C votes for A. This excludes the need to give bad ratings to others to promote oneself. It excludes or at least makes much more difficult the alliances, because you vote for someone who doesn't vote for you. Anyway, there are simple ways to make the things work, if wanted.

There are then the technical problems. It seems that some contestants found how to use the backdoors of the system, and cast multiple votes. If the programmers forgot to add a condition that the vote is unique per contestant per essay, this should apply to everyone. But only some people received this superpower. I think transparency is important, and detailed explanations should be provided. And who are those contestants who abused the system?

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Armin Nikkhah Shirazi replied on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 05:11 GMT
Anonymous,

Your idea about separate groups is interesting, but I think that people will still find a way around it, such as forming alliances between members of all three groups etc.

As for your call for transparency, while I agree with you, I think it would help your case if you would make the call using your actual name.

Armin

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Cristi Stoica replied on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 05:12 GMT
Sorry, the above was me, I thought I was logged in.

Let's stretch the benefit of the doubt, be nice guys and declare that the above mentioned problems were honest mistakes.

But what happens when Brendan gives us a list which he claims represent the status of the votes at midnight, and someone presents screenshots and saved pages right before and right after midnight, with a totally different situation? The pages I saved at midnight are in clear contradiction with Brendan's official and final statements. How is it possible that the evidence I presented simply be ignored?

Scientists should be guided by evidence, and their explanations should not contradict evidence, and to be falsifiable.

The system used in this contest is totally non-transparent, they give you no tool to falsify it. If they would want, they could change the votes as they want, and their explanation that hackers made you see the wrong votes would explain any change they may do.

And, when presented with evidence contradicting Brendan's official statement, the evidence is simply ignored. While we can understand honest mistakes, and unpredicted social dynamics at votes etc, ignoring evidence is more than this.

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Anonymous replied on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 05:26 GMT
Armin, it would be much more difficult to promise to one from a group that you will vote him, if he votes for some in the third group, which is your man. It sure slows them down!

"So, is your grandmother still sliding down the banisters?"

"Well, we wound barbed wire around them."

"Did that stop her?"

"No, but it sure slows her down!"

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Stefan Weckbach wrote on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 05:21 GMT
Dear all,

i thought about Armin's proposal with the judges. I think this would be again problematic, because as it is the human nature, one soon will doubt the ability of the own judges to have objectively judged the own essay (and presumably also other essays). *WE* must do this, if we want our claims and assumptions to be taken serious. How this could work, i will outline in the...

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Pentcho Valev wrote on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 06:22 GMT
Cristi Stoica wrote: "The system used in this contest is totally non-transparent, they give you no tool to falsify it. If they would want, they could change the votes as they want..."

I disagree about non-transparency. They quite transparently delete unwanted votes, just as they quite transparently delete unwanted comments. The "community" is generally happy with this. Only the victims are not but who cares?

Pentcho Valev

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Joseph Bisognano wrote on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 14:27 GMT
Typically, in elections vote counts are not announced until the election is closed. In the US, TV stations can't even announce projections until the polls close. It is feared that partial results will affect later votes. This becomes even more worrisome if many of the votes are later invalidated as happened in this contest. I certainly would support keeping the ongoing rankings of the community voting secret until the voting is closed.

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Yuri Danoyan wrote on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 16:12 GMT
1.In the competition involved both professionals and amateurs.

If number of amateurs far exceeds the number of professionals, it can (I mean just the first round) to follow to question:

Is it possibly fair voting without "Throwing the Baby out with the Bath Water"?

2. Is the voting for FQXi members mandatory or voluntary in the first round?

If it is voluntary, how to save balance between numbers of professionals and amateurs?

3. Lot of essays does not correspond to the criteria of relevant.

Among leaders of contest I see philosophical essays absolutely not common with topic of contest.

4. Level of technical support is not high enough.

5.Contest participants who avoid discussions should be disqualified for passivity. I see such persons among a group of leaders.

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Wilhelmus de Wilde wrote on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 16:12 GMT
Dear All,

First of all I thank FQXi for the opportunity to share your ideas with other interested people, it is a unique way forme to be able to express myself.

This is the second contest forme, and as in the first I only rated the essays that I fully understood and thought that they deserved to be read by others, of course my rating does not influence that but it gives a little boost for the writer also.

Furthermore I did not give any low ratings, I think I am not the one to condemn anyone, if I don't agree with a proposal I say so in a post and await reaction.

I do not understand people who just give a 1 rating without leaving a post that they do not agree with the content of the essay, let them discuss first and perhaps then but anyway. (or make the ratings visible with the names, so that the author has defense)

If authors couls have this attitude it would be a lot easier also for FQXi, if they cannot we might need a new way of judging , I foresee in the next year even more participants, and then it becomes more and more difficult.

But I enjoyed reading all the new ideas.

Wilhelmus

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Domenico Oricchio wrote on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 16:59 GMT
I wish to thank FQXi for these open contests.

I think that this contest is a realization of a winning utopia (like open source, open cure and now open science), and each utopia must live in the real world.

I think that is possible the damage reduction of coalition between authors requiring a minimum number of vote for each author (for example greater of 20), so that each coalition is loser in the great number of votes.

I think that in the real world, in each - close or open - competition there are ever persons that trick, and I am sure that the majority of FQXi authors are knowledge lovers, without any intention to distort the competition.

This contest is a moment of reflection, idea exchange, partecipation; only a person win, and this don't change the life of a person.

How many article are published each year? Who remember we, and our articles, between 100.000 years?

Saluti

Domenico

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Oct. 9, 2012 @ 05:14 GMT
Hi Folks,

I think this has been a great contest, but I am sorry that some folks were hurt by anomalies or voting blocs. I think the way that is handled could be improved. I tried to be ethical in my voting, but it is a demanding task! I knew I could not read 269 papers, but before I rated a single essay, I read at least 50 to get a sense of the relative quality. Then I deliberately sought to rate essays at every level of quality, from worst to best - attempting to rate all the papers I'd read, and read quite a few more - all during the final week. I gave no 10s, but I used every other number at least once, with most ratings in the 4 to 7 range.

I did not engage in any punitive or reward voting, but attempted to evaluate essays for both quality of ideas and presentation, with the highest grades going to those who fulfilled both aims exceptionally well. But I would have to say it requires a lot of effort to be absolutely fair with essay evaluation. Sometimes it requires considerable research or study! I felt it was my duty to make that effort, and I took time off to make sure I could get the job done in a timely manner, and still be fair. Some people do not have the time or freedom to do that, but I think we all owe it to each other to try to rate each other fairly.

Perhaps the best suggestion is that no rankings are posted until the following day, so we only see the final tally. That would defeat a lot of voting strategies designed to boost selected scores by trashing others.

All the Best,

Jonathan

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AndyM wrote on Oct. 9, 2012 @ 07:05 GMT
I have a simple scheme for future contests. Each contestant gets to pick a limited number of essays, say 3 that they feel are the best. Each essay chosen by the contestant gets one point. Perhaps commenting on why that essay was chosen should be included, to help others understand the value of a chosen essay. The 35 (or whatever number) essays with the most points would qualify for the next round.

In this scenario, there would be no down voting anyone's essays. The limited number of points that each individual could award would inhibit collusion to some extent.

There would still be a popularity contest, but perhaps FQXI members' votes could count more (say each vote would be equal to three votes of others) in order to allow for a professional skew.

As a non-contestant, I have enjoyed reading the essays, but feel bad for the contestants whose essays were in the top 35 at some point, but then fell out of contention. Many were deserving of consideration.

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Don Limuti wrote on Oct. 9, 2012 @ 14:37 GMT
I second Andy's idea. It is refreshing to hear from someone who is not part of the contest.

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Stefan Weckbach wrote on Oct. 9, 2012 @ 16:48 GMT
I also second Andy's idea. Very good proposal.

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John Merryman replied on Oct. 9, 2012 @ 17:39 GMT
I would open it up a bit more. Say limited to voting on 15 or 20 % of the entries and still allow scoring. I suspect there are only a few contestants actually going through and giving everyone else low votes. I suspect most people are not voting on all the essays and probably many are only voting on a dozen or two.

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John Merryman replied on Oct. 9, 2012 @ 17:43 GMT
I suppose that last point is obvious, given most entries received about twenty votes.

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Constantinos Ragazas wrote on Oct. 10, 2012 @ 00:01 GMT
Brendan,

Authors ranking essays is a unique and valuable feature of fqxi contests. We should not change it or limit it. The problem is, imho, authors may not always know what essays are “best”. Hard to judge this over such broad and often technical topics. Rather, I suggest authors rank essays according to which essays they think “merit” further consideration and want to support. But “average rank” may not be the best and most effective way of determining such final group. “Averaging” often leads to wild and extreme swings in ranking, 'vengeance voting' by bringing the average down, vote trading and other abuses. An essay ranked in the top 35 can drop to below 100 with one extreme low ranking if the number of votes is small. And the other way around. We've seen this happen repeatedly in this contest. Further, the “average” does not account for the number of people that took the time and effort to read and rank an essay. Essays that make the final cut with just a few votes may not “merit” further consideration as much as an essay that gets many votes but has lower average, with extremes of high and low ratings.

Here is what I would like to see.

1)The 'community ranking' order be disabled during the period of community voting.

2)Community ranking be based on the “sum” of points an essay earns rather than the “average”. That way all ratings can only positively add to the total and the worst anyone can do is simply not rate an essay.

Constantinos

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Vladimir F. Tamari replied on Oct. 10, 2012 @ 03:44 GMT
Constantinos - I agree to keeping the voting results secret until the voting period is over. However using the sum of votes as a criterion will only increase the pitch of all-out 'vote-for-me' campaigns that mar the discussions of the physics itself on many pages. At one time, seeing the practice was rampant, I started sending such electioneering messages on behalf of new essayists I had introduced to the contest, but stopped when a friend noted that that may be frowned upon.

Vladimir

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Daryl Janzen replied on Oct. 10, 2012 @ 05:08 GMT
Constantinos:

I agree with this. I proposed using a sum rather than an average in a post above, and quite a few people agreed that would be a better system than an average, as it would disable people's ability to vote *against* others' essays, which we all saw happen with the 1s flying about on the last day. I like the idea of the community ranking being based purely on how much *for* an essay other people were.

I've argued here that I found the "community rating" order both exciting and useful; but after some discussion and thinking I agree that it should be disabled in the future. That will also be exciting.

Ms Vasilyeva made what I considered another excellent suggestion above, which I see AndyM has now proposed as well and many have agreed with: limit the number of votes that anyone can cast---say to 30 or 40, judging from the number that were cast in this contest, but maybe only 20---enough that people are going to be sure to use each vote wisely.

I think it would be great if FQXi would organise a questionnaire for all contestants to fill out, giving options such as these for us to vote on, and take these opinions into consideration for the next contest.

Daryl

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Joseph Bisognano wrote on Oct. 10, 2012 @ 00:43 GMT
In some ways all this is reminiscent of Ebay's evolution. In the early years, Ebay was a lot like a real auction, with bids happening in an orderly fashion. But after people got used to the rules, they gamed it. Clever folks wait to the last second and then spike the bids. Same thing seems to have happened here. Time to change the game.

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Frederico Pfrimer wrote on Oct. 10, 2012 @ 03:31 GMT
Dear Administrators,

I suggest you checking how the ratings evolved during the last day essays could be rated. If you look to essays that were top ranked on the day before and see how their ratings evolved during the last day, you will see and abrupt change on all ratings, a change that makes no sense, a statistical error.

You have chosen a rating system that is very simple but can be strongly affected by people’s bad intentions. For this system to work you must introduce techniques for filtering these “statistical errors” or choose another rating system.

My essay was in 20th -15th place during the last days and it was in 15th about Friday at midday. When the rating were finished, it was about 50th !!

Do you believe this fall is justified? Do you think it is fair?

It happened not only with me, but with many others. So I question you all: do you think the top ranked essays are really the top ranked ones?

That will be the worst wrong assumption of this contest. The very foundations of this contest went down on the last voting day…

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Member Benjamin F. Dribus wrote on Oct. 10, 2012 @ 05:16 GMT
Dear All,

There are many good and thoughtful ideas here. FQXi cannot be expected to foresee and prevent every possible variety of bad behavior, but I think that the constructive suggestions offered here for possible improvements are helpful.

Armin’s major concern seems to be the scientific integrity of the contest, and of course he’s right that author voting introduces a...

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Wilhelmus de Wilde replied on Oct. 10, 2012 @ 15:43 GMT
Ben :

I fully agree with you and would like to add :

An essay has to be accepted by FQXi, so in my opinion FQXi does not admit essays that are not in line with their directives. The first essay last year that was accepted for publishing gave me already a "great" feeling.

So if people are giving 1's as rating they deny the first selection of FQXi.

Wilhelmus

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Yuri Danoyan wrote on Oct. 10, 2012 @ 09:01 GMT
Nobody care about security of voting software......

More important,than voting proceeding.

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster wrote on Oct. 10, 2012 @ 18:32 GMT
Greetings everyone -- there are so many comments, I unfortunately can't reply to them all. Let me focus on three things.

First of all, I just want to say thank you again to all of the participants. And also thanks to everybody who took an interest, came to the website to read essays and possibly leave comments. This was the largest contest by far. We obviously have some growing pains to work through, but I hope everyone will be back to make the next contest another intriguing, exciting, and educational event.

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster wrote on Oct. 10, 2012 @ 18:53 GMT
Second...I see that several people are still understandably confused about final shifts in rankings around the end of the voting period. Let me summarize again what happened.

First off, though, I have to point out that even when only legal, fair voting occurs, there will be large shifts in the rankings towards the cut-off. This is due to the large number of voters rushing to put in their rankings before the deadline. I haven't counted the numbers, but considering that over half of the essay entries arrived within 24 hours of the entry deadline, I assume something similar occurs with the voting.

Having said that, we had an issue with invalid, duplicated votes. Fortunately, it was easy to spot these votes in the records and to remove them. Unfortunately, we did not have time to find the hole in the system, and invalid votes continued to appear up until voting closed. We therefore had to periodically recheck the records and clean out invalid votes.

On the last day of voting, we did several of these cleanings. In particular, we cleaned out the invalid votes just after midnight, after voting had officially closed.

We then had to do another, final cleaning later that day. This was due to another technical oddity, which enabled voters to place votes after the deadline. People did place votes, so we had to go back and purge these late votes before declaring the results final.

Every time we cleaned out the invalid votes, there were sudden shifts in the ratings. As a result, people may have noticed sudden shifts during the last day of voting, a sudden shift immediately after voting closed, and another sudden shift the following morning.

The large shifts in rankings, then, were due to a combination of the expected shifts due to lots of last minute votes and the sudden shifts due to cleaning out invalid votes.

this post has been edited by the forum administrator

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Pentcho Valev replied on Oct. 10, 2012 @ 19:15 GMT
The final rating is invalid, Brendan Foster, even if your story is the true one. Voting should be repeated - it will take a day or two.

Pentcho Valev

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Pentcho Valev replied on Oct. 10, 2012 @ 21:57 GMT
Cristinel Stoica wrote on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 15:24 GMT: "I had 4.3 at midnight, and after 13 minutes I saw someone removed three of my highest votes, so I ended up with 4.2. Please fix it. I sent you the page, and screenshots. Please stop ignoring my testimony and the evidence I attach."

Brendan Foster,

You will have to prove that these three votes were invalid. Your silence shows otherwise - they were valid but someone else, not Stoica, was chosen to be a finalist.

Pentcho Valev

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Georgina Parry replied on Oct. 10, 2012 @ 23:32 GMT
Hi Brendan,

thank you for explaining. It was perturbing to see that the positions were still altering long after the deadline. It has been suggested elsewhere in this thread that in future there should be a delay between end of voting and final list presentation.I think that's a really good idea. To avoid unnecessary stress to the participants, it might be good to remove the list entirely in that interim period. When last minute votes are added on and invalid votes are removed, after the deadline but before the final list appears.

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