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Trick or Truth: The Mysterious Connection Between Physics and Mathematics
Contest Partners: Nanotronics Imaging, The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, and The John Templeton Foundation
Media Partner: Scientific American


How Should Humanity Steer the Future?
January 9, 2014 - August 31, 2014
Contest Partners: Jaan Tallinn, The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, The John Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American

It From Bit or Bit From It
March 25 - June 28, 2013
Contest Partners: The Gruber Foundation, J. Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American

Questioning the Foundations
Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?
May 24 - August 31, 2012
Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, SubMeta, and Scientific American

Is Reality Digital or Analog?
November 2010 - February 2011
Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation and Scientific American

What's Ultimately Possible in Physics?
May - October 2009
Contest Partners: Astrid and Bruce McWilliams

The Nature of Time
August - December 2008

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Neil Bates: on 8/17/13 at 1:31am UTC, wrote Perhaps the following draws some needed attention towards a significant...

Neil Bates: on 8/11/13 at 1:23am UTC, wrote Belated thanks, George. I think your essay was interesting and congrats on...

Neil Bates: on 8/11/13 at 1:21am UTC, wrote Some notes. First, I've had Internet issues for the last couple days and...

Neil Bates: on 8/8/13 at 2:39am UTC, wrote James, I thought your essay was rather clever in integrating the human...

Neil Bates: on 8/8/13 at 2:02am UTC, wrote Briefly, Hoang: "No" ;-)

George Kirakosyan: on 8/7/13 at 21:00pm UTC, wrote Hi dear Neil, It is enjoyable to read your nice essay! However my comments...

Neil Bates: on 8/7/13 at 19:11pm UTC, wrote Dear Christian, First of all thank you for your enthusiastic comments here...

Christian Corda: on 8/7/13 at 14:21pm UTC, wrote Dear Neil, As I promised in my Essay page, I have read your intriguing...


James Putnam: "In my previous message something important did not get included. My..." in Alternative Models of...

Steven Andresen: "I am aware of an everyday phenomenon that is comparable to the quantum..." in Alternative Models of...

Steven Andresen: "I am aware of an everyday phenomenon that is comparable to the quantum..." in Rescuing Reality

Eckard Blumschein: "Perhaps every author patiently feels annoyed by someone who calls himself a..." in FQXi Essay Contest 2016:...

thamtubachtin: "Tìm dịch vụ thám tử Hãy đến..." in Wrinkles in Spacetime

Jochen Szangolies: "Well, except of course that essays that have received fewer votes are going..." in FQXi Essay Contest 2016:...

thamtubachtin: "Bạn đang tìm công ty cung cấp dịch vụ thám tử? Hãy đến..." in Wrinkles in Spacetime

sara edward: "ok sir sara edward hr@ dissertation writing services." in Pieces of E8

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Quantum Replicants: Should future androids dream of quantum sheep?
To build the ultimate artificial mimics of real life systems, we may need to use quantum memory.

Painting a QBist Picture of Reality
A radical interpretation of physics makes quantum theory more personal.

The Spacetime Revolutionary
Carlo Rovelli describes how black holes may transition to "white holes," according to loop quantum gravity, a radical rewrite of fundamental physics.

Riding the Rogue Quantum Waves
Could giant sea swells help explain how the macroscopic world emerges from the quantum microworld? (Image credit: MIT News)

Rescuing Reality
A "retrocausal" rewrite of physics, in which influences from the future can affect the past, could solve some quantum quandaries—saving Einstein's view of reality along the way.

March 24, 2017

CATEGORY: It From Bit or Bit From It? Essay Contest (2013) [back]
TOPIC: New Pathways to Quantum Spring: Can Information About States Be Made More Democratic? by Neil Bates [refresh]
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Author Neil Bates wrote on Apr. 26, 2013 @ 18:25 GMT
Essay Abstract

Quantum theory curiously implies that preparers of states can know the complete initial specification of the state, but uninformed observers (UOs) are limited in what they can discover. UOs must currently use projective tests that typically destroy the original information. There is thus more to "it" than democratically available as "bit." Previous attempts to empower UOs include weak measurements and using repeated interactions between detector and one particle. A novel theoretical perspective and thought experiment are introduced to distinguish between supposedly equivalent mixtures of states. The original-spin hypothesis postulates that actual spin transfers from photon interactions remain based on the original expectation value, instead of the final apparent detection. The proposal itself uses mechanical spin transfer by statistical "runs" of same-type detections, as analyzed by the OSH, to expand what UOs can find out. It would not be practical, but stimulates theoretical insight. A supportive asymmetry claim about detection is currently testable.

Author Bio

I consider myself a "Renaissance man" because of the variety of my studies and work. That includes consulting at J-Lab using G4Beamline to model muon interactions, teaching at various levels, museum guide, and independently working on physical theory in spare time. My background is too complex to coherently summarize. I am lucky that Internet search for "quantum measurement paradox" usually brings up blog posts of mine in top hits. I've published some articles about the relativistic dynamics of extended bodies, a sadly neglected topic.

Download Essay PDF File

Author Neil Bates wrote on Apr. 27, 2013 @ 02:17 GMT
Greetings. My apologies for the faint thin lines of my illustration (Figure 1.) I suspect this was due to directly pasting an AutoCAD drawing into MS Word instead of pasting a jpg file. Also the figure is rather small. Some magnification will make it readable. I appreciate your forbearance. Thanks.

Jochen Szangolies wrote on Apr. 27, 2013 @ 07:52 GMT
This is a very interesting essay, Neil. I'll need to wake up and review your proposal more carefully before really commenting on it, but from a first reading, your thought experiment strikes me as very 'Einsteinian', reminiscent of the arguments he used to challenge Bohr's conception of quantum mechanics. I mean that as a compliment: Einstein may have been wrong, but his thinking nevertheless was...

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Paul Reed replied on Apr. 28, 2013 @ 06:53 GMT

More precisely, just what have observers got to do with it (see my post below).

Re information, as per your last post to me, this notion of designating everything as information is pointless. Everything provides us with information. And we can only have information, because we cannot 'directly access' reality. But unless some proper differentiation is invoked then the label 'information' becomes meaningless.


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Joe Fisher replied on Apr. 28, 2013 @ 14:33 GMT
Why cannot we ' directly access' reality by oprning our eyes?

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Paul Reed replied on Apr. 28, 2013 @ 16:29 GMT

Because the physical input you receive is light, and that is not the reality, it is a physically existent representation thereof. It was created as a result of an interaction with it, and light has features which make it good at representing. Hence the evolution of sight. If light was just random, or bizarre, then sight would not have rendered the possessor an advantage, ie he would not have seen the big monster coming and been eaten anyway!

Precisely how good light is as an accurate and comprehensive representation of what occurred is a question concerning the physical properties of light, how it intereacts and how it conveys, and what influences it i susceptible to whilst travelling.


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Author Neil Bates wrote on Apr. 27, 2013 @ 12:06 GMT
Jochen, thanks. Sure, the privileged knowledge of the PO only applies to the initial preparation state. If a UO checks the particle later, that changes and the former UO becomes a PO regarding the new projected state of the particle. I am challenging the idea that UOs can't find more about the original state of mixtures (this essay) or single particles (my previous essay.) Very important: I am challenging ordinary assumptions about the consequences of general detection "as" a circular (spin-manifesting) state of polarization.

Alan M. Kadin wrote on Apr. 27, 2013 @ 16:36 GMT

Your very interesting essay deals with photon polarization. I have a question that no one ever asks: Can a single photon really be anything other than circularly polarized, with spin +/-1? In my view, all fundamental particles are rotating vector fields with quantized spin. (See my essay "Watching the Clock: Quantum Rotation and Relative Times", esp. Endnote 2.) And indeed, all atomic transitions involving photon absorption or emission transfer this amount of angular momentum. This question is important because virtually all quantum optical experiments establishing quantum entanglement involve measurements of linearly polarized single photons. If instead, a linearly polarized state must be the superposition of two circularly polarized photons, then the entire block of evidence for quantum non-locality is in question. Any thoughts on the subject?


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Author Neil Bates wrote on Apr. 27, 2013 @ 19:43 GMT
Thanks, Alan, I will look at your essay. Yes, photons can be considered superpositions of R and L circular states - yet theory says we always "find" a photon as having either (+) or (-) spin (hbar or -hbar, sorry don't have time to hash out LaTeX here.) Yes, it makes sense for a photon from an atomic transition to be circular. Yet we can pass it through a linear filter and prove that the output (if it survives) is a superposition and not a circular state. I don't think non-locality is in question since the correlations of entanglement still can't be explained non-locally (more precisely, can't involve forbidden combinations of locality and realism.) The correlation of circular polarization is indeed not a true proof of NL, since it's a simple binary correspondence to satisfy conservation.

However, I presented reason to believe that the concept of straightforward manifestation of spin is an over-simplification. Detection of a linear state by filtering (especially if very indirectly) does not logically require actual change of the expectation value of AM of the system. I think that change in an intervening element like a HWP is even less credible.

The detailed argument is in the essay, yet for a start consider the asymmetry of the reverse process: would we really expect circular states detected "as linear" (say by filters or calcite analyzers) to *not* transfer their angular momentum? And if they did, then I repeat from my essay: "Yet why should linear detected "as circular" prompt change in angular momentum, yet circular detected "as linear" continue to exert the effects of circular?" If my hypothesis is correct, then a UO could indeed distinguish between a mixture of R,L versus a mixture of H, V - although it would require waiting for very rare runs of apparent R or L detections for the H, V mixture.

Paul Reed wrote on Apr. 28, 2013 @ 06:41 GMT

“In this author’s view, being unable in principle to find out everything about the world’s contents implies that “bit” (information) is derivative and subsidiary to “it” (real objects.)”.

Logically (ie in principle) we could find out everything, because what we can know (which is the equivalent of physical existence) is limited by the physical process which...

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Author Neil Bates replied on Apr. 28, 2013 @ 12:05 GMT
Paul, you would need to study more quantum mechanics to see how important observation is. I can't really summarize how that works out, but my article attempts to show that we can at least find out more than standard theory posits. Note that even if you say "the reality" would be there anyway", we still need a way to find out what that is. To some extent you have been vindicated, in that "interaction-free measurements" are now appreciated and used.

Paul Reed replied on Apr. 28, 2013 @ 16:33 GMT

It is not a matter of how important observation is, in order to discern what occurred, but that that process cannot affect the physical circumstance.


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Author Neil Bates wrote on Apr. 28, 2013 @ 14:15 GMT
This presentation by Lee Smolin is very relevant. It addresses the problem of ensembles and "reality" thereof, among other things:

The universe as a process of unique events

Paul Reed replied on Apr. 28, 2013 @ 16:55 GMT

This is difficult to follow in this format.

Very early on there is a false statement, ie any two events with the same properties are identical. If they are two then they cannot be identical!! The properties, whatever that relates to, are the same. But I doubt very much anyway if an exact same set of circumstances could re-occur. This smacks of similarities being drawn at a level of conception that is higher than what actually exists. So as a methodology for categorisation, then ok, but not as a depiction/explanation of physical existence.

And physical existence is not a series of events, it is a sequence of physically existent states. And within any given stateh there can be no form of change, otherwise it cannot exist. This is the only route out of the conundrum that existence involves existing but also difference. It therefore has to be a sequence of discrete states. That is why he then confuses time and timing. Time is not a succession of moments, that is the timing system. Time is the rate at which alteration occurs in realities.


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Joe Fisher wrote on Apr. 28, 2013 @ 15:06 GMT
As probably the most uninformed observer likely to read your essay could I please point out to you that a light is a light is a light. Light does not consist of invisible photons, klingons, croutons or carryons that can or cannot behave in positive or negative unpredictable ways. Man made particles have nothing to do with reality. Only unique real snowflakes occur. All fabricated particles have to be unique. Why cannot you understand that if nature only produces unique states, men could only produce unique states? There is only one of anything, once. There is no such thing as real scientific information. There is no such thing as real layman information. All information is abstract and has nothing to do with reality because only unique real events take place that cannot be deciphered by any abstract code.

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Paul Reed replied on Apr. 29, 2013 @ 06:26 GMT

Your essential point is correct. Physical existence comprises a sequence of discrete, definitive, physically existent states. We know there is existence, and that that involves difference. And the only way out of that conundrum is sequence. Of course one can invoke all sorts of beliefs, but this is supposed to be science. And we can only have knowledge of what occurred (this is another answer to your question above about opening our eyes.

But, because we are in an existentially closed system (we only know because of a physical process), what we do know can be validated, albeit within that confine and then ultimately we can deem that knowledge to be the equivalent of the physical existence knowable to us. In simple language, we know all there is to know.


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Author Neil Bates wrote on Apr. 28, 2013 @ 20:17 GMT
Paul, Joe: I can't blame you for wanting to apply philosophical intuitions and deduction thereof to what you think the universe is like, but our intuitions are often wrong. Science is above all about "finding out" through often deep and difficult experiments, rather than working out what reality must be like through basic practical observations and reflection. We live in an unexpected universe. I still appreciate your interest.

Paul Reed replied on Apr. 29, 2013 @ 06:15 GMT

There is nothing philosophical about what I am saying, or indeed what Joe has just said. They are generic statements, ie facts devoid of the detailed form. See the wood for the trees is the expression.

And hasn’t it ever struck you that the substantiation of some science as being counter intuitive rings an alarm bell?

Science is not about “finding out”, if the start premise is wrong, ie does not correspond with how physical existence must occur. Like for instance, asserting that the activity of observation has an affect on the physical circumstance, asserting that existence occurs relatively, asserting that there is time in a physical reality, not differentiating the existential sequence from the existential representation thereof (eg light), not understanding that physical existence can only occur in one definitive physically existent state at a time, etc, etc.


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Joe Fisher replied on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 21:23 GMT

It was not philosophical conjecture that allows me to know for certain that: One (1) real Universe can only be eternally occurring in one real here and now while perpetually traveling at one real “speed” of light through one real infinite dimension once. One is the absolute of everything. (1) is the absolute of number. Real is the absolute of being. Eternal is the absolute of duration. Occurring is the absolute of action. Here and now are absolutes of location and time. Perpetual is the absolute of ever. Traveling is the absolute of conveyance method. Light is the absolute of speed. Infinite dimension is the absolute of distance and once is the absolute of history. It was common sense. Do you honestly think that any scientist could only have a scientific brain, or any philosopher only have a philosophical brain?

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Philip Gibbs wrote on Apr. 29, 2013 @ 15:50 GMT
Neil, I just finished reading your very interesting and well thought out essay. You argue that "it from bit" is impossible because we cannot know all information about a state. Is "it from qubit" or "quit from qubit" possible?

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Author Neil Bates wrote on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 01:02 GMT
Philip, thanks. True, I think that "it" is in some sense "greater" than "bit" because we can't know everything about the universe - in particular, quantum states. There is also an asymmetry between observers of different degrees of "in the know." For example, Alice the PO can create a qubit of a certain polarization aR + beta L. It is known to her and anyone she wants to tell, which can be...

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Philip Gibbs replied on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 08:07 GMT
interesting point about the mathematical double. Smolin confuses the issue by talking about things like evolution that cannot be well explained in mathematical terms. There are indeed many parts of science that are not served well by mathematics and there may be more of that in physics than people expect. E.g. I think people have had too high an expectation that low energy physics of standard model can be derived from a fundamental theory. On that much I agree with Smolin.

However I dont yet see a reason to abandon the idea that the underlying laws of physics are described by some yet to be discovered mathematical formalism, even if some things depend on the solution of the equations rather than the equations themselves. The effectiveness of maths in physics points in that direction and it seems to me that the only alternative is to allow an element of the supernatural in which case science is really doomed. I would be interested if anyone can see it another way.

In his book Smolin talks about "metalaws" and a principle of universality that may explain them. This is so similar to my ideas that I wonder if he got that from me. It is not clear if he accepts that at this level of metalaws the mathematical principle holds.

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Author Neil Bates replied on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 10:50 GMT
Hmmm. Well, I wouldn't say the trans-mathematical nature has to be imagined as "supernatural", just "non-realist" - not the sort of realism we expect. We already have the oddity of random muon decay (supposedly identical "structureless particles" with differing lifetimes, which is an absurdity in deterministic terms. Quantum randomness in general can be described en masse but the individual events cannot be predicted in principle. I don't accept MWI or the guise of "continued Schroedinger evolution," so that is genuine randomness. MAth functions cannot create literal randomness since their results are bound by logical necessity. We must use seeds in pseudorandom generators etc.

Jacek Safuta replied on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 16:38 GMT
Philip, Neil - in relation to Smolin, determinism, math and computability:

According to Lee Smolin (and his Loop Quantum Gravity) self-organized critical systems are statistical systems that naturally evolve without fine tuning to critical states in which correlation functions are scale invariant (Ansari H.M., Smolin L. Self-organized criticality in quantum gravity. arXiv:hep-th/0412307v5).

I would support the view of Smolin in the meaning that the universe is a dissipative coupled system that exhibits self-organized criticality. This structured criticality is a property of complex systems where small events may trigger larger events. This is a kind of chaos where the general behavior of the system can be modeled on one scale while smaller- and larger-scale behaviors remain unpredictable. The simple and well known example of that phenomenon is a pile of sand.

When QM and GR are computable and deterministic, the Universe evolution (as naturally evolving self-organized critical system) is non-computable and non-deterministic. It does not mean that computability and determinism are related. Roger Penrose proves that computability and determinism are different things (Penrose R. The Large, the Small and the Human Mind. Cambridge University Press, 1997. p.120).

To summarize my view: the actual Universe is computable (however only in Lyapunov time) but its evolution is non-computable.

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Lawrence B Crowell wrote on Jun. 1, 2013 @ 02:25 GMT
I finally got back to reading essays. Your essay is curious. I think your proposed experiment is related to using a birefringent crystal to split a photon into am entangled pair of photons through their L and R polarization states.


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Peter Jackson wrote on Jun. 1, 2013 @ 14:37 GMT

Very nice essay, and our theses have much resonance. In fact I've explored some of your propositions further. In particular;

"tangible angular momentum is clearly not incidental to what we can know about

quantum objects." Absolutely central I agree, and I propose both than 'non-available' information has fooled us and that AngularM is massively powerful.

"we should at least re-examine the presumption that statistical coincidences

that simulate runs of circular photons, will produce all the same results as real such runs" Yes! Spot on. I hope you'll comment on my dissection of the error there.

"We still won't really understand wavefunction collapse, despite various controversial attempts to explain it."

Very true, but I hope you may also then give your views on some insight I think AngularM may offer in that area. I also propose a very practical, in theory, experimental test involving single photon emissions which will falsify a proposed resolution of the EPR paradox.

One question; You say above to Paul that; "interaction-free measurements' are now appreciated and used." I found not so, as so called weak measurement techniques all still involve interactions, then reverting to 'statistics' which I falsify as a valid method of extracting the information required.

Anyway, good writing and very pertinent view, well presented. Worth a much better score. I look forward to your thoughts on mine.

Best of luck


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Hoang cao Hai wrote on Jun. 17, 2013 @ 01:46 GMT
Dear Neil Bates

It is true that "your background is too complex to coherently summarize.". if put into practice would probably be much more complicated. Have you something of measure for it to be more simpler?

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Author Neil Bates replied on Aug. 8, 2013 @ 02:02 GMT
Briefly, Hoang: "No" ;-)

Antony Ryan wrote on Jun. 23, 2013 @ 22:28 GMT
Dear Neil,

Nice approach to the question. I really like the UO and found it topical and relevant with regard to weak multiple measurements. Also I like your openness to explore the possibility that information might not necessarily be more fundamental than reality. Nice use of physics across the whole essay.

If time permits I'd be delighted if you could take a look at my essay.

Well done!


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Author Neil Bates replied on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 01:59 GMT

Thanks. Yes, I think that information can only approximate reality, since in quantum mechanics there is always that which is out of reach. However, we can *get closer* as I have argued. I'll take a look at your essay (don't be afraid to remind me to comment there if need be, I have been much occupied outside of FQXi for awhile.)

Antony Ryan replied on Jun. 30, 2013 @ 11:20 GMT
Hi Neil,

It's hard to find time to read all the essays - so appreciate that! Certainly QM is fuzzy at best, so must have impact on reality.

As I said - great approach - all the best in contest!


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Hoang cao Hai wrote on Jun. 27, 2013 @ 03:48 GMT
Send to all of you


To change the atmosphere "abstract" of the competition and to demonstrate for the real preeminent possibility of the Absolute theory as well as to clarify the issues I mentioned in the essay and to avoid duplicate questions after receiving the opinion of you , I will add a reply to you :

1 . THE...

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Sreenath B N wrote on Jun. 27, 2013 @ 08:18 GMT
Dear Neil Bates,

I have down loaded your essay and soon post my comments on it. Meanwhile, please, go through my essay and post your comments.

Regards and good luck in the contest.

Sreenath BN.

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James Lee Hoover wrote on Jul. 3, 2013 @ 18:48 GMT

If given the time and the wits to evaluate over 120 more entries, I have a month to try. My seemingly whimsical title, “It’s good to be the king,” is serious about our subject.


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Author Neil Bates replied on Aug. 8, 2013 @ 02:39 GMT
James, I thought your essay was rather clever in integrating the human element and our own relevance to the cosmos as conscious beings, not just pure disembodied physics. It was also enjoyable to read, like an essay by Medawar or other "interdisciplinary writer." BTW does your title mean, we are the "kings" of reality?

Jennifer L Nielsen wrote on Jul. 11, 2013 @ 17:32 GMT
Hello Neil,

Good to see you in here from the blogosphere :)

1--your statement, "There is thus more to "it" than democratically available as bit" -- is probably true on many levels.

2--The exploration of different states with the same density matrix is interesting, this relates somewhat to Corda's cosmologically oriented paper and the black hole information loss paradox wherein info is lost since a pure state is potentially reduced to a mixed one. He predicts that the information is actually preserved as pure, but if it were not, it would be another area in which the its potentially outnumber the bits.

Have you checked out the research going on here
of_liquid_NMR_quantum_computing etc?

I will read your paper in more detail and speculate more on the nature of your experiment and statements (the experimental setup is somewhat outside my specialty area), but I like your overall line of logic.


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Author Neil Bates replied on Jul. 12, 2013 @ 00:37 GMT
Hi Jenny. First, thanks for appreciating that QM still says that not only is there that which nobody can find out, there are also kinds of information that some people can know, and others can't find out (or so we think!) There are two classes of "observers," and this has not been widely appreciated. To recap: I can create a photon in a specific state of polarization that *I know.* OTOH, you...

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Manuel S Morales wrote on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 13:39 GMT
Dear Neil,

I truly enjoyed your insight and exploration of the question if information is preserved in space-time (It from Bit). Although you have a different approach to spin than I do, I find your mechanical spin transfer approach inspiring and most worthy of merit.

It has been a pleasure to review and rate your outstanding essay accordingly. Best of luck to you in this competition.



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Than Tin wrote on Jul. 26, 2013 @ 03:30 GMT
Hello Neil

Richard Feynman in his Nobel Acceptance Speech


said: “It always seems odd to me that the fundamental laws of physics, when discovered, can appear in so many different forms that are not apparently identical at first, but with a little mathematical fiddling you can show the...

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eAmazigh M. HANNOU wrote on Aug. 6, 2013 @ 00:15 GMT
Dear Neil,

We are at the end of this essay contest.

In conclusion, at the question to know if Information is more fundamental than Matter, there is a good reason to answer that Matter is made of an amazing mixture of eInfo and eEnergy, at the same time.

Matter is thus eInfo made with eEnergy rather than answer it is made with eEnergy and eInfo ; because eInfo is eEnergy, and the one does not go without the other one.

eEnergy and eInfo are the two basic Principles of the eUniverse. Nothing can exist if it is not eEnergy, and any object is eInfo, and therefore eEnergy.

And consequently our eReality is eInfo made with eEnergy. And the final verdict is : eReality is virtual, and virtuality is our fundamental eReality.

Good luck to the winners,

And see you soon, with good news on this topic, and the Theory of Everything.

Amazigh H.

I rated your essay.

Please visit My essay.

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Peter Jackson wrote on Aug. 6, 2013 @ 18:52 GMT

Final review and scoring time. I note you didn't respond to my message above and I don't recall a post on my blog. I hope you have read or can read mine before the deadline as it has strong conceptual agreement and I'm convinced you'll love it. Orbital angular momentum is where it's all at and QM is blind to it!

Some have said the dense abstrct put them off, but loved the essay, with comments including; "groundbreaking", "clearly significant", "astonishing", "fantastic", "wonderful", "remarkable!", "superb", "deeply impressed", etc. But I'd rally like your views on my identification of weak measurement weaknesses and the other inconsistencies we both identify. I hope you'll give me lots more points too.!

Very well done and thank you for your excellent analysis anyway. Strap in for a boost. Best wishes.


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Author Neil Bates replied on Aug. 6, 2013 @ 19:28 GMT
Peter, I will take a close look at your paper as I can see from Abstract it is about a subject dear to my heart and similar to that explored in my own essay: quantum states and whether there are novel experimental tests that can reveal new truths about them. I had gotten a bit depressed and lost much interest in this contest after seeing so many "speculative" papers without specific proposals, and seeing my own effort sink rather low in the ratings. Somehow I had forgotten that ours is instead, like mine in proposing testable new perspectives: "New experiments comparing single-photon pairs are proposed, ..." Indeed! That deserves some cogent comments and I will get back to you before day is done.

Author Neil Bates replied on Aug. 6, 2013 @ 19:30 GMT
(Erratum: "yours" - lol no your paper was your own and not a joint effort.)

Paul Borrill wrote on Aug. 6, 2013 @ 21:03 GMT
Neil - Enjoyed your essay and gave it a good rating. I particularly liked your proposal on how to distinguish supposedly “indistinguishable” mixtures. I came up with something similar - the principle of “retroactive indiscernability”, and would love to hear your comments on it:

(sorry if the fqxi web site splits this url up, I haven’t figured out a way to not make it do that).

Kind regards, Paul

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Author Neil Bates wrote on Aug. 6, 2013 @ 21:22 GMT
Paul, I will take a look this evening. BTW these comment forms don't use HTML the way that ordinary blogs use since on LaTeX. I use shortcut of "/1610" so people know how to find my essay. Cheers.

Michel Planat wrote on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 00:04 GMT
Dear Neil,

I am not an expert of weak measurements but your excellent work needs a boost I am happy to offer. My topic is very close to quantum information and quantum computing. May be you have a chance to look at it before the end of the contest.

My very best regards,


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Vladimir Rogozhin wrote on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 08:53 GMT
Dear Neil,

I am pleased to read your essay in the spirit of Descartes, with very deep radical ideas on the theme of the contest, the evidence and conclusions.

Especially liked: "..tangible angular momentum is clearly not incidental to what we can know about quantum objects"..."We still won't really understand wavefunction collapse, despite various controversial attempts to explain it."

Please look at my essay and vote ideas.

Good luck in the contest,

Best regards,


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Sreenath B N wrote on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 09:21 GMT
Dear Neil,

Thanks for visiting my site. I have downloaded your essay and now you immediately contact me at, , for further details.



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Christian Corda wrote on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 14:21 GMT
Dear Neil,

As I promised in my Essay page, I have read your intriguing Essay. Here are my comments/questions.

1) As I told in my Essay page, your Essay is connected to my one. In fact, finding a way to distinguish quantum mixtures of the same density matrix this is also of fundamental importance for the black hole information paradox.

2) Your statement "There is more to "it" than democratically available as "bit"" is beautiful.

3)The basic asymmetry in possible knowledge for observers was one of the reasons because Einstein rejected quantum mechanics. This is a issue that also gets under my skin.

4) I like your statement that "Observers who create a particle are able (at best) to know its complete wave function - the complete quantum specification of that particle". In fact,in quantum physics all the information is encoded in the wave function.

5) By "postulating that photon interactions transfer spin (at least cumulatively) based on the original expectation value (average measured value) rather than final apparent detection type" you are, in a certain sense, making quantum mechanics deterministic.

6) Although I like your humble declaration that "Most of the proposals here are impractical" I agree with you that being possible even in principle is of theoretical interest in order to have further insights on various limitations of quantum mechanics.

7) Do you think that your statement on the dominance of "it" over "bit" is compatible with my one "Information tells physics how to work. Physics tells information how to flow"?

In general, I find your essay very pretty as reading it gave me lots of fun. Then, I will give you an high score.



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Author Neil Bates wrote on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 19:11 GMT
Dear Christian,

First of all thank you for your enthusiastic comments here and at your own essay (/1856.) I am flattered to get kudos and recognition from the current top-rated essayist. (That BTW is not surprising to me, considering that your essay most resembles a journal paper proposing an advance.) Sadly I have a bit of visual trouble reading your essay, perhaps my older pdf SW did not...

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George Kirakosyan wrote on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 21:00 GMT
Hi dear Neil,

It is enjoyable to read your nice essay! However my comments I will send

after some time. I have rated your work properly!

Best wishes,


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Author Neil Bates replied on Aug. 11, 2013 @ 01:23 GMT
Belated thanks, George. I think your essay was interesting and congrats on it reaching a high ranking. Good luck.

Author Neil Bates wrote on Aug. 11, 2013 @ 01:21 GMT
Some notes. First, I've had Internet issues for the last couple days and avoided commenting. I apologize too for not commenting much at other essays until the final few days (typical procrastinator and often busy), and will try to make some more comments from now on. Indeed, with ranking out of the way it can be more relaxed and productive. This is no time to just wait for prizes etc. and give up on the discussions. Don't be afraid to remind me to leave some assessments of your essay if you asked and I didn't get to it. In some cases I wanted to reflect rather than saying some fluff for the sake of a gesture. Finally does anyone know of blogs, articles etc. that are discussing this contest or planning too? Thanks.

Author Neil Bates wrote on Aug. 17, 2013 @ 01:31 GMT
Perhaps the following draws some needed attention towards a significant more basic insight that we can test with existing equipment (riff on Beth experiment.) My essay meandered a bit so I will cut to the core quantum measurement issue. Yes it's nice to distinguish previously indistinguishable mixtures, but that is impractical and a byproduct of a more fundamental insight into quantum...

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