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It From Bit or Bit From It
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FQXi FORUM
April 24, 2014

CATEGORY: FQXi Essay Contest - It From Bit or Bit From It? [back]
TOPIC: On Constrained Perception by Harlan Swyers [refresh]
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Author Harlan Swyers wrote on Jun. 30, 2013 @ 14:57 GMT
Essay Abstract

The argument is made the “Bit” in “It from Bit” is the result of averaging and thus is not definite and fundamental uncertainty is rooted in set theory. The cosmological constant is also argued to be completely natural. An expansion of the Ricci-tensor over a finite number of terms is also provided.

Author Bio

Hal Swyers has a M.S. in Environmental Management from the University of Maryland University College and studies physics in his spare time as a hobby.

Download Essay PDF File




Philip Gibbs wrote on Jul. 1, 2013 @ 19:07 GMT
Harlan, this is an interesting and quite technical essay. The parts about axioms and provability remind me of points from a few of the other essays so hopefully you will find those and exchange ideas with the authors.

The part that is nearer to mine is the averaging and uncertainty about the bit. I hope you get some good feedback. I will probably read again once the rush of new essays is over



Anonymous replied on Jul. 2, 2013 @ 09:49 GMT
Phil,

Good advice, feel free to tear into the essay, the general points I believe are salient, the articulation can still be improved though. So comments can be either as kind or cruel as needed.



Author Harlan Swyers replied on Jul. 3, 2013 @ 10:32 GMT
Apologies, the July 2, 2013 @ 09:49 GMT is mine as well.




Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Jul. 2, 2013 @ 10:07 GMT
Dear Harlan,

Thank you for presenting a nice essay... General relativity can not answer every thing. Do you think a simple mental description can produce matter?

and...

I am requesting you to go through my essay also. And I take this opportunity to say, to come to reality and base your arguments on experimental results.

I failed mainly because I worked against the main...

view entire post




Author Harlan Swyers replied on Jul. 2, 2013 @ 10:55 GMT
Mr Gupta,

Thank you for the post. I am not sure you read my essay, since it does in fact rely heavily on experimental data, particular in the arguments about the cosmological constant. The key point of the essay is that one must average over observers in order to develop a true projection of reality.

As far as matter is concerned, one of the key discoveries of the LHC is that the Higgs boson serves to mediate the interactions of particles within the surrounding Higgs field, thereby reducing mass to an interaction strength. Relativity is a convenience, but is also relevant to mathematical analysis. As an analytical tool it is indispensable. Connecting classical analysis to modern quantum analysis is of fundamental interest in multiple fields.

I will read your paper, but request you do the courtesy of reading mine as well.



Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta replied on Jul. 30, 2013 @ 16:33 GMT
Dear Harlan,

I am sorry in the delay in replying you. I did not check the replies. FQXI also did not gave me notification that you answered.

The more energy you put the more particles you will find. Sun's centre will have all the particles.

It was my proposition, it was not an inference to your essay. What I mean is that we should be more close experimental results for our propositions.

I think we form a picture of anything in our mind, and keep them in our memories. We communicate about that picture to others, which we call information. When we die we loose all these pictures and memories.

Now in this context, can we create material from information...?

You can discuss with me later after this contest closes also.

Best

=snp

snp.gupta@gmail.com




Akinbo Ojo wrote on Jul. 2, 2013 @ 13:59 GMT
Hi Harlan,

I don't agree that all BITS, can be averaged, although arguments well presented.

RE: This means that the "bit" is an average bit, thereby denying "it" a definite existence

1. Are you talking of the excluded middle which Peter Jackson talks about in his essay? How can 0 and 1 be averaged to give a yes-or-no answer?

2. Are you talking of a composite IT or a fundamental IT. If composite, well you may argue about a definite existence since parts of it may go out of existence, but if fundamental, having no parts, averaging would not be possible. It either exists wholly or not. No averaging!

RE: The ultimate question is not whether it arises from bit, but which bit does it arise from?

The assignment then is to write out all the possible bits we can think of (e.g. spin up/spin down, dead/alive, opaque/transparent, etc – my favorite not included). Then, subsequently choose which bit would firstly, lie at the "very deep bottom" and secondly, which of them would make IT arise from "an immaterial source and explanation" according to Wheeler.

Good luck in the contest.

Akinbo



Author Harlan Swyers replied on Jul. 3, 2013 @ 00:53 GMT
Akinbo,

Thank you for taking the time to read my essay. It might be helpful for you to review the differences between frequentist and Bayesian inference. One of the key differences between the two is that frequentists assume that there is some true but fixed values to unknown parameters, where as in Bayesian inference those parameters are updated. In this sense, one must accept that...

view entire post




Akinbo Ojo replied on Jul. 4, 2013 @ 11:26 GMT
Dear Harlan,

Thanks for your detailed reply. Let me phrase things this way: there is a middle or average between 0 and 1 binary digits, i.e. different shades of grey between black and white. For a fundamental, non-composite IT, Can there be an average or middle between existence and non-existence states?

You may have critical comments to share on my essay.

Thanks,

Akinbo



Author Harlan Swyers replied on Jul. 5, 2013 @ 10:08 GMT
Akinbo,

I think there are subtleties in how you interpret your question. One way to think about your question is to think about a qubit. In the case of a qubit, in traditional interpretations of QM, prior to measurement, the state can be in a superposition of 1 and 0, in which case there is a probability amplitude associated with the qubit that might have a mode somewhere between 1 and 0....

view entire post





Manuel S Morales wrote on Jul. 3, 2013 @ 01:19 GMT
Harlan,

"The result is our perceived shared reality is merely the product of averaging over knowledge gained through observations. This means that the bit is an average bit, thereby denying it a definite existence."

So 'how' do we obtain such knowledge? Please advise. Excellent essay by the way.

Regards,

Manuel



Anonymous replied on Jul. 3, 2013 @ 10:04 GMT
Manual,

The best I can think about it at the moment is the idea of is a piece of fabric made with an infinite number of infinitely long threads. An observer is asked to pull a piece of thread without breaking it and asked to read off the numbers. Before reading the thread the observer must assume that the section of the thread could have any set of numbers, after reading the numbers the observer has reduced the list of possibilities for the values of the thread for the section the pulled on. The log ratio of between what was known before vs after the observer read the numbers is the knowledge gained. However, what if a different observer pulled the same thread at the same location? Would the list of numbers be exactly the same? What about a third or the fourth? One would expect that if they are sufficient accurate, all observers will pull the thread in the same general location. However, their actual list of numbers will vary. When they compare their results they can all develop the same average, to within the same level of precision.

This process can be repeated indefinitely if one demands more and more precision. Quantum mechanics tells us there is a limit to our level of precision, which forces us to converge to some agreed upon average based on the shared knowledge of observers. However, there is a fundamental amount of information associated with uncertainty, where I am using the word information synonymously with uncertainty, it is this uncertainty that is preserved in the universe. However, since this is preserved, there is a limit to us from ever determining a "true value", we are only ever able to gain knowledge by comparing notes with other observers. This improves our level of precision about the world, but even with we polled all observers, we can only ever assume that our "truth" is approximate at best.

Will try to answer additional questions if you have any. Thanks again for reading my essay.



Author Harlan Swyers replied on Jul. 3, 2013 @ 10:06 GMT
Apologies, I responded before logging in, the July 3 10:04 GMT post is mine.

Harlan




Hoang cao Hai wrote on Jul. 3, 2013 @ 03:58 GMT
Dear Harlan

You are very good analysis, but I have a bit confusing at your conclusion: "the information was preserved as part of the fundamental imprecision of the theory." - It looks like quantum mechanics theory not yet enough of ability to explain for information ?

To change the atmosphere "abstract" of the competition and to demonstrate for the real preeminent possibility of the...

view entire post




Author Harlan Swyers replied on Jul. 3, 2013 @ 10:12 GMT
I am choosing to accept the definition of information in a general sense, which effectively associates information with uncertainty in the values in a sequence of variables. Quantum mechanics actually ensures there is always a level of uncertainty associated with any measurement. So the argument is that this fundamental uncertainty must be preserved in the universe. Although we can always consistently refine estimates to reach a very precise agreed on value, ultimately we are forced to accept a fundamental level of imprecision. This is sufficient for us to ultimately unravel the observations given enough time. So the essay actually embraces quantum mechanics in a very deep way.




James Lee Hoover wrote on Jul. 3, 2013 @ 19:16 GMT
Harlan,

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.

Jim



Author Harlan Swyers replied on Jul. 5, 2013 @ 10:21 GMT
Jim,

I find myself in a similar predicament, and will attempt to read all 120 in the coming month. However, will probably read yours more immediately since you posted here when so many others have not.




Joe Fisher wrote on Jul. 4, 2013 @ 16:44 GMT
Mr. Swyers,

I found your essay very interesting to read. As a decrepit old realist, may I politely point out a possible flaw in your conclusions?

I have mentioned in my essay BITTERS that each snowflake, each strand of DNA is unique. As one real Universe seems only to be occurring, once, everything in the Universe real or imagined must be unique, once. Each particle must be unique and each star must be unique. As they are both unique, they must always remain at a unique distance from every other particle and star that ever was, is, or will ever be in the future.

Unique cannot be averaged. Unique, once is not comparative or relative or associative or accumulative. Abstract observers see perfect repetitive abstract scenes. Each real observer sees unique, once.

Good luck in the contest.

Joe



Author Harlan Swyers replied on Jul. 5, 2013 @ 10:18 GMT
Joe,

Thanks for the interest in my essay. I would describe the situation a little differently. No one is saying that an observer is not having a unique experience. In fact, to some extent, classical statistics relies up unique experiences. However, it is a false position to think that an observer's independent experience dictates reality for all other observer's. One must consider that additional observers experiences must be included in our understanding of the universe. The classical reality must be based on the collective experience of all observers, and not based solely on the experience of one of the observers. The averaging creates a common basis for observers to relate to each other.



Joe Fisher replied on Jul. 5, 2013 @ 15:11 GMT
Respectfully Mr. Swyers,

There is no such thing as “classical reality.” Mindlessly accumulating and averaging common information about observations is futile. Reality is not an aggregate or a congregate. Reality is unique, once.

Joe



Author Harlan Swyers replied on Jul. 5, 2013 @ 21:54 GMT
Joe,

I agree with you that your reality is unique and it happens once. However, I disagree that your reality dictates the reality experienced by others.




Chris Granger wrote on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 17:09 GMT
Great essay! Perhaps those who have rated low have not properly read it.

I felt that your essay was very interesting, straightforward, well-organized, and well-written. In accordance, I have given you a very high rating.

In general, I also agree with many (if not most) of your salient points. Further, your assessments (especially the first sections of your essay) seem firmly rooted in logic and I estimate such could be difficult to dispute in a general context.

Though I have not checked everything here in detail, it seems initially proper. While I think your conclusions may need some refinement due to reasons of definition and more careful inspection, overall your treatment appears similar to my own.

In my essay I opted for linguistic over symbolic logic on the basic premise (given the nature of the contest and the topic), but you've made an admirable attempt in identifying a formal argument which can help validate the premise; I think many components of your presentation here meld well with my own.

Chris



Author Harlan Swyers replied on Jul. 21, 2013 @ 15:49 GMT
Thank you for reading, I appreciate the sincere comments, and certainly will continue to refine the arguments. One day at a time on this unfortunately. Thanks again!




Branko L Zivlak wrote on Jul. 19, 2013 @ 18:48 GMT
I think you have a sense of your hobby. I have, in many ways, the opposite of your views. In addition, your article is interesting for me, well reasoned, genuine. I believe that you are able to deepen the ideas presented in my work if you read them carefully.

In accordance, I have given you a very high rating.

Regards,

Branko



Author Harlan Swyers replied on Jul. 21, 2013 @ 15:41 GMT
Branko,

Thank you, much obliged!




Sreenath B N wrote on Jul. 22, 2013 @ 16:02 GMT
Dear Harlan,

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.

http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/1827




Than Tin wrote on Jul. 26, 2013 @ 05:18 GMT
Harlan

Richard Feynman in his Nobel Acceptance Speech

(http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1965/feynman-lecture.html)

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...

view entire post





Vladimir Rogozhin wrote on Jul. 30, 2013 @ 14:19 GMT
Dear Harlan,

Contests FQXi - is primarily a new radical ideas. "The trouble with physics" push ... You have a new idea. Excellent analytical essay with a very important conclusions:

«It has been argued here it's the averages that determine perceived reality, the classical realm is an approximation, classical states are not stable, there is a limit to our knowledge of the past, and the cosmological constant is perfectly natural. The result is our perceived shared reality is merely the product of averaging over knowledge gained through observations. This means that the "bit" is an average bit, thereby denying it a definite existence. »

I only have one question. Constructive ways to the truth may be different. One of them said Alexander Zenkin in the article "Science counterrevolution in mathematics": «The truth should be drawn with the help of the cognitive computer visualization technology and should be presented to" an unlimited circle "of spectators in the form of color-musical cognitive images of its immanent essence. "

http://www.ccas.ru/alexzen/papers/ng-02/contr_rev.htm

In the Russian version of a short article: «The truth should be drawn and should be presented to" an unlimited circle "of spectators.»

Do you agree with Alexander Zenkin?

I have made you a rating of "nine" and waiting for you on my forum.

With best wishes and regards,

Vladimir




Antony Ryan wrote on Aug. 1, 2013 @ 11:31 GMT
Hello Harlan,

Nice flowing essay. I like it a lot. High rating from me. I think your point about Bit being ill defined is dead right! I share your views that observation needs to be averaged if we are to grasp what reality actually is. Also the cosmological constant intuitively feels like it ought to arise completely naturally.

You mention set theory, perhaps, if you get time, you might like my essay which is about observation of / information exchange and shows the Fibonacci sequence to appear.

Best wishes for the contest,

Antony




john stephan selye wrote on Aug. 2, 2013 @ 02:03 GMT
Having read so many insightful essays, I am probably not the only one to find that my views have crystallized, and that I can now move forward with growing confidence. I cannot exactly say who in the course of the competition was most inspiring - probably it was the continuous back and forth between so many of us. In this case, we should all be grateful to each other.

If I may, I'd like to...

view entire post





Héctor Daniel Gianni wrote on Aug. 2, 2013 @ 19:09 GMT
Dear Harlan Swyers

I am an old physician and I don’t know nothing of mathematics and almost nothing of physics,

But maybe you would be interested in my essay over a subject which after the common people, physic discipline is the one that uses more than any other, the so called “time”. No one that I know...

view entire post





Antony Ryan wrote on Aug. 3, 2013 @ 20:09 GMT
Dear Harlan,

I've lost a lot of comments and replies on my thread and many other threads I have commented on over the last few days. This has been a lot of work and I feel like it has been a waste of time and energy. Seems to have happened to others too - if not all.

I WILL ATTEMPT to revisit all threads to check and re-post something. Your thread was one affected by this.

I can't remember the full extent of what I said, but I have notes so know that I rated it very highly.

Hopefully the posts will be able to be retrieved by FQXi.

Best wishes,

Antony




Paul Borrill wrote on Aug. 4, 2013 @ 02:15 GMT
Dear Harlan - a very interesting and worthy essay for the competition.

A nice reminder to us all: “An observers’s internal model is developed based on knowledge gained through observations”.

I am concerned, however, by your use of the notion of apriori and apostori. This implies an irreversible ordering of events--perhaps consistent with the 2nd law, but manifestly inconsistent with the time reversal symmetry built into our fundamental equations of physics.

Also, maybe there is another explanation, beyond the anthropic principle: one which we might call Self-Organized-Criticality (SOC) where a system evolves to the edge we find ourselves sitting at.

Your figure 1 was most illuminating. Thank you for that, and good luck in the contest.

Kind regards, Paul




Peter Jackson wrote on Aug. 6, 2013 @ 15:58 GMT
Hal,

Somehow I missed your essay until now. I apologise ans wish I'd read it earlier. Your intellectual powers are impressive and I think much needed in physics. A very well written and argued thesis, and I pick out two pieces in particular that I think excel. Well I would of course as they're entirely consistent with my own. They are;

"...it can be argued the fundamental error is not loosely rooted in the axioms of quantum theory, but strongly rooted in set theory as well. This would imply that our universe, and the information in it, is a fundamental consequence of the limits of knowledge in general, and will continue to evolve indefinitely, eventually passing through an infinite number of classically orthogonal ground states."

But most importantly you have beautifully expressed a point I've been trying to formulate;

"Quantum correlations serve to place constraints on possible relationships between data, not the state of the data".

I hope my points put you in contention for the final group. I also hope you'll manage to read mine by the deadline if you haven't yet. Please ignore the dense abstract, I hope the flattering blog comments may tempt you to look including; "groundbreaking", "significant", "astonishing", "fantastic", "wonderful", "remarkable!", "superb", etc. Now showing for one last day! I'm certain you'll like it and look forward to your comments. Quick link; The Intelligent Bit.

But I think yours, though quite different, may also be described in such terms and is of great value, particularly from a 'non-professional' like me. Very well done.

Peter




Cristinel Stoica wrote on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 07:49 GMT
Hi, votes are vanishing again.





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