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Accounting for quantum fuzziness could help us measure space and time—and the cosmos—more accurately.

Bohemian Reality: Searching for a Quantum Connection to Consciousness
Is there are sweet spot where artificial intelligence systems could have the maximum amount of consciousness while retaining powerful quantum properties?

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.

October 16, 2017

CATEGORY: It From Bit or Bit From It? Essay Contest (2013) [back]
TOPIC: It from Bit from It from Bit... Nature and Nonlinear Logic by William C. McHarris [refresh]
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Author William C. McHarris wrote on Jul. 5, 2013 @ 17:03 GMT
Essay Abstract

For the last decade I have been demonstrating that many of the so-called paradoxes generated by the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics have less puzzling analogs in nonlinear dynamics and chaos theory. This raises questions about the possibilities of nonlinearities in the foundations of quantum theory. Since many scientists do not think intuitively in nonlinear logic, I take this opportunity to dwell on several peculiarities of nonlinear dynamics and chaos: nonlinear logic and the possible connection of infinite nonlinear regression with free will. Superficially, nonlinear dynamics can be just as counterintuitive as quantum theory; yet, its seeming paradoxes are more amenable to logical analysis. As a result, using nonlinear dynamics to resolve quantum paradoxes winds up being simpler than many of the current interpretations being formulated to replace the orthodox interpretation. Chaos theory could be a candidate for bridging the gap between the determinism so dear to Einstein and the statistical interpretation of the Copenhagen School — for deterministic chaos is indeed deterministic. However, intrinsic physical limitations on precision in measuring initial conditions necessitates analyzing it statistically. Einstein and Bohr both could have been correct in their debates.

Author Bio

Bill McHarris is Professor Emeritus of Chemistry and Physics/Astronomy at Michigan State University. He received his B.A. in chemistry from Oberlin College and his Ph.D. in nuclear chemistry from the University of California at Berkeley in the turbulent 1960's. He came to MSU directly from graduate school as Assistant Professor, becoming full Professor at age 32. For most of his career he worked as Senior Scientist at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory in nuclear physics/chemistry, but for the last decade has been trying to reconcile chaos theory with quantum mechanics. He is also a published composer and organist.

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James Lee Hoover wrote on Jul. 5, 2013 @ 21:05 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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Zoran Mijatovic wrote on Jul. 6, 2013 @ 03:22 GMT
Hello Prof. McHarris,

Thank you for your informative essay, It reminded me of my software engineering dissertation titled "Predicting the Unpredictable", an exercise in cognitive mechanics which used a benign form of "simulated evolution" to investigate the nature of memory and the mechanics of choice at the cellular and neural network level. Nothing self replicating or predatory, but...

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Author William C. McHarris replied on Jul. 23, 2013 @ 19:47 GMT
Hello, Zoran,

Thank you for your kind words. I enjoyed your combination of science and philosophy. It seems to me your "never-ending" spiral is another example of nonlinearity, with the material it affecting the metaphysical obit, which in turn affects the it ... I fear I'm not too much in to Kant, but your discouse on Descartes was fascinating.



Manuel S Morales wrote on Jul. 6, 2013 @ 11:21 GMT

As of 7-6-13, 2:21 am EST, the rating function for your essay is not available. Sorry I can't help you out right now by rating your essay.


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Manuel S Morales replied on Jul. 7, 2013 @ 21:02 GMT

I have sent an email requesting that FQXi extend to those of you who had their essay posted on July 5, 2013, be allowed additional days to compensate for the days of not being able to rate these essays.

My experience in conducting the online Tempt Destiny (TD) experiment from 2000 to 2012 gave me an understanding of the complexities involved in administrating an online competition which assures me that the competition will be back up and running soon. Ironically, the inability of not being able to rate the essays correlates with the TD experimental findings, as presented in my essay, which show how the acts of selection are fundamental to our physical existence.

Anyway, I hope that all entrants will be allocated the same opportunity to have their essay rated when they are posted, and if not possible due to technical difficulties, will have their opportunity adjusted accordingly. Best wishes to you with your entry.


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Domenico Oricchio wrote on Jul. 6, 2013 @ 14:48 GMT
It is an interesting essay.

I am thinking, after the reading, on the sorting program: there is an analogy with a robot that stacks package in order of weight; so that the program can be a thought of a robot that learn the optimal stacking. The optimal program is so complex that a programmer don't understand the robot reasoning.

There are some instinctive behaviours in insect (I think to bees and ants) that can be dna based (genetic learning), in million of years of evolution. This can be more understandable, because of the gene number is low, compared with the number of neurons.

I am thinking that the unintelligibility of the program can be connected to the unnecessary parts: a minimization of the lenght of the program could reduce the Kolmogorov complexity of the description.

It is interesting the free will like chaotic behaviour of the brain, that could be evolutionary to obtain an random behaviour of the animal brain to compete in an environment optimally (it look distinct reasoning to solve a problem, in a way similar to the evolution).

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Author William C. McHarris replied on Jul. 23, 2013 @ 20:01 GMT

An evolving robot is an analogous situation, and, because of the feedback loops, it involves nonlinear logic, which cannot be analyzed easily. The example of electronics gates (see the Scientific American reference) is still another analogy. I think the basic "unintelligibility" of the programs is innate. The length and complexity is related to the evolutionary history, as are the leftover appendages.

Treating the brain as an evolving neural network would probably produce the same type of results, but presently this problem is quite a ways beyond our experimental capacities. And I would hesitate to make any serious predictions, for if such complex results can arrive from extremely simple physical situations, just think of the complexities upon complexities that cold result from an evolutionary network. This is where I think people such as Kurzweil err — it really isn't likely that so-called intelligent machines are going to outthink humans (or even animals) in the finite future — after all, evolution has had mail lions if not billions of years of laboratory experience! Thus, for all practical purposes, free will is just that — unpremeditated decision making.



John Brodix Merryman wrote on Jul. 6, 2013 @ 18:38 GMT

Whoa!! Hopefully the regular participants in these forums will gravitate to your paper. Physics is stuck in its own hubristic loop and really needs to accept it is being left in the dust by other disciplines.

Hopefully you will engage as well, as you have much to add to this conversation.

I would like to offer up one idea, which was the subject of my last years...

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Author William C. McHarris replied on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 19:42 GMT
Hi, John,

Thanks a million for your kind words — and especially for recommending this essay as a "must read" in the FQXi blog!

Yes, I agree with you that much of physics is caught up in a hubristic loop. This is the main topic of the books, "The Trouble with Physics," by Lee Smolin, and "Not Even Wrong," by Peter Woit. You would enjoy them. Smolin's book is easier to grasp, as...

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John Brodix Merryman replied on Jul. 25, 2013 @ 21:24 GMT

Thank you very much for reading and giving consideration to my writing. I accept the way I approach these subjects usually gets me dismissed rather quickly, but I don't come at physics from a mathematical or technical context, but from living a physical life and an interest in history and society. From which I early on came to realize how much/all of human activity is best understood in physical terms. Even much of what seems nonsensical often boils down to scalar and non-linear behavior, which is why I find your work very fascinating. Because of this, I do understand the short term, reactive thinking which motivates this non-linear herd behavior of crowds. So when a bunch of physicists show the same reactive behavior as a flight of starlings, I don't feel terribly hurt or envious of them, since my interest is with trying to figure out reality, not be part of any particular crowd. One thing I do know, is there is an incredible amount that I can never know, so what is most important is being able to edit out all that I don't need to know, even if it is important in other contexts. That was a theme I tried developing in this year's entry, that perspective is fundamentally subjective. For an example of what I'm really trying to put together, here is an essay[/link} I wrote about two years ago.

I have to say I find Peter Woit's
blog very informative and it is one of my usual reads, but I seem to have rubbed him the wrong way, as I'm one of many who is blocked from commenting. Not the first for me.

Have you ever heard of Carver Mead? He sounds quite interesting.



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Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on Jul. 7, 2013 @ 02:15 GMT
Dear Professor McHarris

Your well-thought out and presented essay was recommended in a fqxi blog. You certainly describe many interesting and potent ideas that may well apply to various situations in physics - even a successful computer-generated theory of everything that no one understands one happy day!?

As an unrepentant reductionist however I feel that there are conceptual errors in Quantum Mechanics - (traceable to Einstein and his point photon) of all people as I described in my last year's fqxi 'Fix Physics!' essay. If so resorting to chaos theory may be unnecessary to solve QM's fundamental problems. In my Beautiful Universe Theory also found here all interactions are local, causal and linear in a universal lattice, like a crystal; but as you suggest even such simple beginnings can lead to complex chaotic physical situations.

With all best wishes

Vladimir Tamari

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Author William C. McHarris replied on Jul. 26, 2013 @ 19:36 GMT
Dear Vladimir,

Thank you for your comments. I read your last year's essay and was very favorably impressed, especially by the first section likening modern physics to a not-planned but accrued edifice whose chambers didn't fit together very well. It was succinct and well expressed. (I'll read your paper n the Beautiful Universe Theory as soon as I get through dealing with answering the...

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Hoang cao Hai wrote on Jul. 7, 2013 @ 09:15 GMT
Dear William

Your conclusion seems to be a prelude to an " infinite loop" - Even though you have very good analysis.

I am will be rate when the rating system continues to operate.

And to change the atmosphere "abstract" of the competition along with demonstrate for the real preeminent possibility of the Absolute theory as well as to clarify the issues I mentioned in the essay...

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Author William C. McHarris replied on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 03:07 GMT
Dear Hai,

Thank you for your comments. I read your essay and found it fascinating, if a bit difficult to follow. You raise an interesting question as to the possibility of ever having an "absolute" theory. My guess is that we will simply do better and better with ever-better approximations; as chaos theory has demonstrated, many (really, most) real-life classical systems, although deterministic in principle, can be known and partially predicted only by probabilities.

Best wishes,


Alan M. Kadin wrote on Jul. 8, 2013 @ 00:31 GMT
Dr. McHarris,

Your essay provides a fascinating exposition of the implications of nonlinearity for deterministic chaos in quantum theory. Let me suggest one more implication of nonlinearity, regarding solitons. QM is naturally a wave theory, but a linear wave packet does not naturally maintain its amplitude and integrity. For this reason, a purely wave interpretation of QM was never taken seriously, leading to the confusing hybrid of wave-particle duality. In contrast, a soliton in a nonlinear system propagates as if it were a particle in a linear medium, while maintaining its integrity, and repels another similar soliton, in direct analogy to the behavior of an electron. I suggest in my essay ( "Watching the Clock: Quantum Rotations and Relative Time" ) that primary quantum fields such as electrons and photons spontaneously condense into such soliton-like structures in a way that hides the nonlinear self-interaction.

Alan Kadin

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Author William C. McHarris replied on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 22:06 GMT
Dear. Dr. Kadin,

Thank you for your kind comments. I read your essay and was most impressed, and I see more or less how your working with nonlinear self-interactions could be similar to the incorporation of nonlinear dynamics/chaos into quantum mechanics. It could well be that we are attempting similar things. After all, there are many equivalent ways of describing systems.

I followed your arguments in the essay superficially, but I am going to have to read and STUDY your arXiv papers on the New Quantum Paradigm before I can make more cogent comments, so I would welcome further discussions later this year. One quick, perhaps naive question right now: How does your extended rotating vector field produce the observed quantized spin? In the essay it seems tacked on somewhat arbitrarily.

It will be interesting to discuss entanglement, as well. Classical nonlinear systems have correlations that look like entanglement, as is discussed at great length in the book, "Nonextensive Entropy," by Gell-Mann and Tsallis, the result of a conference at the Santa Fe Institute (Ref. [7] in my essay).

Again, thanks and best wishes,

Bill McHarris

Alan M. Kadin replied on Jul. 30, 2013 @ 14:21 GMT
Dr. McHarris,

Thank you for responding to my comments on your essay, and for your careful reading of my own. I agree that we may be touching on related issues from different points of view.

With regard to quantized spin, I have shown that if one assumes that angular momentum of continuous vector fields is quantized in units of h-bar, then the rest of QM follows automatically, without other assumptions. I suggest that a nonlinear self-interaction leads to a soliton-like structure with an amplitude that corresponds to quantized spin, but I have not (yet) specified the mathematical form of such an interaction that can achieve this. This is still a work-in-progress, but the connections thus far are remarkable, including the fact that a form of general relativity follows simply from this picture. Everyone believes that such a neo-classical picture must have been definitely ruled out in the last century, but I have found no trace of anything like this in the early literature.

Thank you also for pointing out the book by Gell-Mann and Tsallis. I am of course familiar with Gell-Mann's earlier work on particle physics, but not with this more recent work.

I would be happy to discuss these issues with you further after the end of this contest. My email address is listed on my essay.

Alan Kadin

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Stephen James Anastasi wrote on Jul. 8, 2013 @ 03:50 GMT
Hello Pr. McHarris

Thank you for a terrific read.

What I like about chaos, in the context you put, is that seemingly complex systems arise from simple systems. It was for a long time incomprehensible to me (especially in the last years of my study) that no one seemed to ask how the universe could decide at the point of its ‘arrival’ that it would conform to some amazingly complex equations. Kind of, “Here I am, and I will comply with some pretty amazing mathematics—I hope you like multivariable calculus!”

An open question attends whether my armchair universe exhibits non-linearity in higher dimensions. I think it must, because the structures therein, even in the 1-space analysis, are not differentiable below a certain minimum length, due to the continuum being non-smooth, which implies inbuilt uncertainty as a source of randomness.

Your idea, in your Afterword, that one might figuratively get caught in an infinite loop is a little puzzling, if the universe had a beginning. Does not this imply that there was an ultimate initiation, so infinite loops cannot be (at least if working toward the beginning of time)?

I would have liked to see how the non-linearity was to be bolted onto existing equations, so will browse your published works. Equally, if you consider my essay, and can see how to distribute (rotate) the evolving 1D structure shown into 3-space, then any suggestions would be welcome. I expect the world will be fractaline because of the self similarity in the iterations of the evolving Harmony Set.

Best wishes

Stephen Anastasi

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Anonymous replied on Jul. 28, 2013 @ 22:28 GMT
Hi, Stephen,

What I meant in the Afterword is that, if quantum mechanics really does fundamentally contain nonlinear, even chaotic elements, then trying to apply chaos to quantum mechanics is like trying to apply chaos theory to itself — hence, the loop, which possibly could explain why there are difficulties with so-called quantum chaos — and why chaos theory seems to be successful in...

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Author William C. McHarris replied on Jul. 29, 2013 @ 02:37 GMT
Hi again, Stephen,

As you can discern, the previous post is from me. I must have taken too long or gone back and forth one time too many, so I was registered as "anonymous." Again, let me tell me how much I appreciated your essay.


Bill McHarris

John Brodix Merryman wrote on Jul. 8, 2013 @ 16:35 GMT
An interesting article on this very topic, that of quantum thermodynamics.

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Author William C. McHarris replied on Jul. 29, 2013 @ 21:04 GMT
Hi, John,

Thanks for the reference. Their work is fascinating, and there are some parallels to the work on nonextensive thermodynamics pioneered by Constantino Tsallis. A good introduction to the latter is the book edited by Gell-Mann and Tsallis, "Nonextensive Entropy: Interdisciplinary Applications" (Ref. [7] in my essay). It also brings to mind Ilya Prigogine's work on non equilibrium thermodynamics. You might find his book, "Order Out of Chaos" interesting; Prigogine, however, in his last book, "End of Certainty," argues that nonequilibrium thermo introduces even more uncertainty, à la quantum mechanics, so that determinism is on its way out — it's interesting the way different people can use similar arguments to reach opposite conclusions.

Since we are talking about possible experimental applications, a stunning experimental verification of chaotic and cyclic (ordered) behavior coexisting in an indisputably quantum system (an atom acting as a kicked top) is given by S. Chadhury et al., Nature 461, 768 (2009); a summary appears in Nature News 2009/091007 (7 Oct 2009).


M. V. Vasilyeva wrote on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 00:26 GMT
Esteemed Prof. McHarris,

I thoroughly enjoyed your essay. It resonates with my vision of the workings of the world at the heart of which I see a recursion. It did not occur to me until I read your essay that this was called a nonlinear logic and nonlinear dynamics. Also, even though my degree was in computer science (a while ago), I have never heard about the evolutionary computer programs and the fascinating results they suggest about how living things most likely evolve and our chances at understanding them. I will definitely read more on all this now.

My only problem with your essay was that you did not have better captions under the frames in Fig. 2 about which you later say: "One of the clearest manifestations of this can be seen as the gaps in Fig. 2; one that stands out is the large period-3 gap in the vicinity of A = 3.82." I could not find approx.values of A shown there and I wish I could. Otherwise, it is a ten.

I wonder if it would not be too much of me to ask you to comment on my essay -- mainly because to me it seems that we speak of the same things, you professionally and I as a non-professional (and please never mind the non-academic tone in the end part.) Thank you! -- "The Play of Mind in Emptiness"

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M. V. Vasilyeva replied on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 03:55 GMT
Dear Prof. McHarris,

I wonder if you're familiar with the work of evolutionary biologist, gerontologist Dr. Michael Rose. Just now I was trying to find a graphic from one of his presentations that shows the complex network of upregulated genes in the population of 'Methuselah flies' bred to greatly outlive the wild type. It makes a good illustration to the message in your essay that there are "logical processes that cannot be understood, much less be broken down into reductionist, simply analyzable parts".

This is bad news for the community interested in longevity, who hope that we could tweak a few genes here and a few genes there and voila we get a super-long-lived organism. I could not find that graphic but it shows a massively nonlinearly interconnected system that it is very difficult to understand, less so manipulate to achieve a desired outcome. It makes clear how difficult --if not impossible-- it would be to avoid unintended or even undesirable consequences because of numerous nonlinear feedback loops.

Your essay resonates very well with Dr.Rose's point that still prevalent molecular-biological reductionism is not valid scientifically. Frankly, until I read your essay, I too was hoping that such a manipulation was possible in principle. Alas. Thank you again for your very interesting essay :)

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Author William C. McHarris replied on Jul. 29, 2013 @ 22:24 GMT
Dear Marina,

I thoroughly enjoyed your essay, too. Much of it is a common-sense version of nonlinear dynamics and feedback relations. It is both lyrical and sensible — and comprehensible in that it is not wrapped up in seemingly eloquent yet obscuring philosophical and/or physics-derived jargon! I think you will find in further reading on chaos theory (the book by James Gleick, "Chaos:...

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M. V. Vasilyeva replied on Aug. 1, 2013 @ 20:54 GMT
Dear Professor McHarris,

Thank you for your reply and thank you so much for your kind comments on my essay in my blog. I can't relay how much your approval and high rating means to me, coming from a luminary like you.

...and I know exactly what you mean by a writing style "wrapped up in seemingly eloquent yet obscuring philosophical and/or physics-derived jargon" -- I'm afraid some of my ex-countrymen are often guilty of this. I call it "the academic style", and this applies to Russian academics only (I know, because I've read plenty of English scientific literature to compare). I personally cannot read this style and don't, unless I have to. (it's hard to stay awake lol)

And thank you very much for your explanation re captions. I do remember --vaguely-- these diagrams from James Gleick book, soon after it came out, which was a long time ago (yeah, how fast we forget -- I am planning to re-read it now). And so I could guess where that A = 3.82 was but could not be certain -- the question 'what if I'm mistaken?' always looms over my head -- and so I thought a caption would remove that uncertainty. Thank you for your explanation again!

And regarding Dr. Rose, he was telling about the non-reducibility of evolving biological systems for years, but somehow, it finally clicked in my head only when I read your essay. My brain will never be the same, because a very important neuronal connection was made. There are very few such essays, and even books or articles, that make a brain click. You did that for me and I will never forget that. Thank you!


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Giacomo Alessiani wrote on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 02:05 GMT
Mr. McHarris,

I appreciate Your essay. Especially the reference to the notion of bifurcation. Probably, I will insert a similar argument to my research.

For now I'm just developing a particular version of the polar coordinates.

Thank you and I hope you read my essay, now with zero score.

Best regards.

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Member Tejinder Pal Singh wrote on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 05:44 GMT
Dear Dr. Harris,

I have read with genuine pleasure your essay and your suggestion that deterministic chaos can inject into quantum theory essential features of nonlinear dynamics which can help understand the problems of quantum mechanics. Could you kindly guide me to the mathematical literature of your work on this subject, vs a vis a vis the application of chaos to quantum theory, with the intent to explaining say the quantum measurement problem, and the proof of the Born probability rule. I work on stochastic nonlinear quantum mechanics, and have a background in classical chaotic dynamics, but I had not thought of putting the two together - hence your advice in this regard would be of definite interest to me.

As you would know, extensive work on stochastic nonlinear quantum theory [ GRW / Spontaneous Localization] has been done over the last three decades or so, to explain the quantum classical transition, the collapse of the wave-function during a quantum measurement, and the Born rule. I am a little puzzled why you do not make mention of it, although its essence - random determinism, perhaps bears some semblance to deterministic chaos. Admittedly, theories such as GRW are phenomenological in nature, but given so, I think they are quite successful at what they set out to do, and are being subjected to stringent experiments, and are also perhaps relics of underlying fundamental theories such as Adler’s Trace Dynamics [To beat my open trumpet, may I advertise here my recent review article with my colleagues on this subject, published in Reviews of Modern Physics 85 (2013) 471, available also at]

I would be seriously interested in application of nonlinear chaotic dynamics to quantum foundations, and will be grateful to hear from you.

Best regards,


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Author William C. McHarris replied on Jul. 30, 2013 @ 19:32 GMT
Dear Dr. Singh,

Thank you very much for your kind words and especially for your interest in linking stochastic nonlinear quantum mechanics and chaos theory. I am sure there are at the very least some significant parallels. I have just downloaded your overwhelming paper from RPM/arXiv, and at a first superficial glance, it seems to have important implications. Obviously, because of its length and depth it will take me some time to digest it properly, so I really should defer sensible comments until after I have had time to study it thoroughly. However, bear with me for the moment if I make some preliminary, necessarily superficial remarks.

The comparisons of chaos/nonlinear dynamics with quantum mechanics are also necessarily phenomenological at this time, but examples of them can be found in Refs. [4] and [5] in my essay, together with references and some simple calculations. I think one of the better points of attack lies on the nonlinear classical side, where correlations (à la entanglement) and statistical interpretations of deterministic states (collapse?!) are common. A good introduction to this is in the book, "Nonextensive Entropy: Interdisciplinary Applications," edited by Gell-Mann and Tsallis. Tsallis tends to overstate and oversell his idea of nonextensive entropy, which is purely empirical, but his basic concept seems solid enough, and much of it rests on experimental observations.

Give me a month or so to work through your paper properly, and I'll get back with you. I think we could have some profitable discussions.

Best wishes,


Anonymous wrote on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 09:05 GMT
Dear Dr McHarris,

I commend you on your excellent work and essay, cutting straight through confusion to bring unity and clarity to and from chaos.

I particularly agree; "Mathematics can state things with certainty; physics cannot."

I find this conclusion in my essay from a coherent episto/ontological 'discrete field' model resolving nonlinear optical effects but the idea has been subject to criticism. I also propose that the Law of the Excluded Middle, and assumption A = A do not apply in nature, leading to a resolution of the EPR paradox consistent with Godel's n-valued 'fuzzy logic'. I would greatly appreciate your views and advice on those propositions. The Intelligent Bit

I also particularly agree and support your important comments;

"nonergodic behavior can easily ape "action at a distance."

"strongly nonlinear effects at the heart of quantum mechanics."

"Einstein and Bohr both could have been correct in their debates."

"nature is far more intricate and beautiful than we could imagine."

"physicists consider (nonlinear dynamics and chaos) to lie in an obscure corner of science."

"it is impossible... to determine a set of initial conditions with... enough precision... to produce a predetermined final state."

I believe your essay stands head and shoulders above most, and that the work is of great import. I don't however agree that 'statistical predictions' are the correct solution, but do find that using the proposition A~A, implying layered noncommutativity, should allow closer mathematical approximations and a logic freed of paradox. Again I'd greatly value you view. The mathematics would need development.

Congratulations on your essay, which I hope will become a landmark.


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Author William C. McHarris replied on Jul. 31, 2013 @ 18:57 GMT
Dear Peter,

Thank you for your kind words. I really appreciate your enthusiasm.

I studied your essay and found it exciting. It is so dense that I couldn't follow all of your arguments, but the basic idea of the IQbit arising from fuzzy logic and arising in what binary logic considers the excluded middle sounds novel and well worth pursuing further. I also downloaded and read your essay, "Subjugation of Scepticism in Science" (with John Minkowski at, which sets the tone for many of the essays in this contest. It's true, science is similar to religion in that things go in and out of fashion, and there is a formidable barrier for currently unorthodox ideas. You might enjoy several of the essays in "Quantum (Un)speakables," edited by R.A. Bertlemann and A. Zeilinger (basically the elaborated proceedings of a most fascinating conference commemorating the tenth anniversary of Bell's death) — they talk about the decades when major journals such as "Physical Review" would reject papers questioning the Copenhagen interpretation without even bothering to send them out for review.

Actually, some of the ideas you touch on are similar to mine. For example, the Monty Hall paradox is an excellent example of how people jump to conclusions without understanding Bayesian probabilities, something rather important in interpreting Bell's inequalities. A good, simple, common-sense introduction to Bayesian statistics can be found in Chap. 8 of Nate Silver's book, "The Signal and the Noise." (Cf. my comments in the exchange below.) As for statistical predictions, they are inevitable if one accepts contributions from chaos. They are the link between determinism (Einstein) and Born/Bohr.

Again, I really appreciate your comments and your enthusiasm. It livens up the discussion.



Peter Jackson replied on Aug. 4, 2013 @ 17:20 GMT

You're very welcome. Well earned. thanks also for your post on mine. I think we're onto something very important for progress and certainly paradigm changing. Where do we go for one of those? Do they exist any more? It looks to me like they've stopped doing them!?


(PS. Could be an opening then!)?

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Member Giacomo Mauro D\'Ariano wrote on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 12:56 GMT
Dear William,

I would be curious about the chaos-based mechanism leading to violations of Bell inequalities. Can you report it in brief? The fact that there are diffraction patterns is irrelevant. What is relevant is the existence of instantaneous correlations, versus a choice of the observable that is measured locally. What plays the role of the direction of the spin measurements? Sorry, but my opinion is that chaos plays the role of the little monster explaining everything. We need to understand mechanisms, not to put them under the carpet of chaos.

My best regards


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Peter Jackson replied on Jul. 10, 2013 @ 15:07 GMT

I hope Bill will engage, but I've just found a more expansive Bell proof consistent with the one in my essay, in his excellent 2011 J. Phys. Conf. paper.

Quantum paradoxes explained.

This doesn't offer the physical analogy as my essay (also see my post to Matt Leifer) but does extend Sisskind's 3 disc analogy. Bill even also gives the Cardano sample space analogy!

Put very simply; we can find more observables if we look 'between the lines' (for the elipto-helical 'Intelligent Bit' freedoms). So we're not limited to asking red?/green? but can also ask 'how bright' of each.

I did get the impression you missed that in my essay. Perhaps not all better explanations must come from 'little monsters'.?

Best wishes


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Member Giacomo Mauro D\'Ariano replied on Jul. 15, 2013 @ 08:52 GMT

what happened to the author? Anyway, my main question got no response. What are the complementary measurements in this context? Clearly there cannot be any, since it is classical. It is easy to violate Bell inequalities by changing the meaning of things ... Theorems are theorems.



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Peter Jackson replied on Jul. 16, 2013 @ 17:22 GMT

No 'changing meanings'. Theorems are indeed theorems, but they're all included in the greater 'theorem' that all science is provisional and no 'absolute' proof of anything exists. Bell uses assumptions just as all theorems do. Even the most solid foundational 'Laws' of Physics can be violated. Look what happens to Snell's Law at kinetic reverse refraction - the nonlinear 'Fraunhofer...

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Antony Ryan wrote on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 15:41 GMT
Dear Professor McHarris,

Beautifully illustrated and well written essay. A pleasure to read. It does indeed seem odd if chaos theory answers so much elsewhere in nature to not apply to the quantum world.

The infinite regression section I particularly enjoyed, as cosmogony is a favourite area of research for me.

Time permitting, I'd be honoured if you could take a look at my essay based around Fibonacci sequence and entropy.

Best wishes,


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Author William C. McHarris replied on Aug. 1, 2013 @ 18:33 GMT
Dear Antony,

Thank you for your complimentary remarks. I also read your essay, which was quite well written. The idea of a Fibonacci sequence explaining the behavior of black holes is a novel, clever idea, but I wonder about whether or not it really applies to the physical situation. To be sure, it's a clever mathematical construct, but with enough variables, one can fit almost anything. On the other hand, it's just such clever group-theoretical constructs that wound up predicting the omega-minus particle.

The thing one has to worry about is that there are far more mathematical constructs than there are physical applications, and deciding which ones are really relevant is not a trivial task. Can you extend your model to make predictions?

Best wishes,


Antony Ryan replied on Aug. 1, 2013 @ 19:52 GMT
Dear Bill,

I can indeed make predictions and I'll reply on my thread.

Best wishes,


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Chidi Idika wrote on Jul. 10, 2013 @ 02:37 GMT
Dear McHarris,

For me your essay is near delicious.

My question: when we think of any initial condition in chaos theory as rather the “phase-space” (what I’ve called “the observer” and maths/science calls the “invariance” or “conservation law”) is it then likely that it is this “phase-space” that constitutes the “none” in non-linear dynamics (i.e. the Markov property)?

Implication is that a “feedback” (think, a “sensory modality” or “irritability” or "measurement") is actually a phase space and vice versa. This eliminates in your own words “part of the problem of determining the border between observer and observed.” (in the sense now of Huygens’ Principle).

That is,the de facto "observer" determines uniquely the de facto observables or predictability/determinism?

I always end by asking the pro like you are to please read my essay too: What a Wavefunction is, not elegant perhaps but will prove very useful insight. A promise!

All the best,


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Author William C. McHarris replied on Aug. 4, 2013 @ 21:50 GMT
Dear Chidi,

Thank you for your kind words. I read your essay with pleasure, too. It's quite fascinating.

Your essay is fairly consistent with the Copenhagen interpretation, and I think this is where we differ. With a nonlinear element in quantum mechanics (implying feedback), we don't have to worry about the distinction between system and observer or where to delineate the locale of separation. Instead, quantum mechanics becomes ontological, and the Uncertainty Principle can be interpreted in its old-fashioned sense in that the observer doesn't cause the wave-function to collapse, but he or she does perturb the system, affecting successive measurements. Thus, feedback is not a phase space but its implications can affect the phase space. I hope I have understood your question and this perhaps starts to answer it.

Best wishes,


Sreenath B N wrote on Jul. 10, 2013 @ 08:03 GMT
Dear Prof. McHarris,

Perhaps, you are interested in my essay as it deals with biology too along with physics and mathematics. Just as you have thought of applying nonlinear dynamics and chaos theory to solve problems in physics, so do I think of applying them in the field of biology to solve the problem of the evolution of Life.

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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Anonymous replied on Aug. 5, 2013 @ 01:51 GMT

Thanks for your comments.

I found your essay fascinating, with much to commend it. However, I am curious when you make a fundamental distinction between biology and physics. Although biology is infinitely more complicated than physics, scientists working in nonlinear dynamics are making baby steps toward interpreting it. For example, nonlinear network theory has made considerable progress in explaining how very complicated networks, such as the internet, function. And it is conceivable that simple brains (perhaps at insect level) eventually will be understood on the basis of feedback in networks. We're in a modern position similar to that of organic chemistry in the early 1800's, when it was thought that some sort of "vital" component was present in organic compounds that wasn't necessary for more straightforward inorganic compounds. But then urea was synthesized in the laboratory, disproving the necessity of this vital component — after all, organic chemistry is simply the chemistry of carbon, which can be considerably more complicated than the chemistry of most other elements, but there's nothing "vital" about it. Something similar is undoubtedly true about biological systems. They may be so complicated that we can never completely fathom them, but there should be no fundamental difference between them and physical systems. (This may well be the situation where "in principal" and "in practice" wind up being being so different that for all practical purposes they are essentially antipodal.)

I look forward to seeing your comments on my essay,


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Cristinel Stoica wrote on Jul. 10, 2013 @ 15:34 GMT
Dear Prof. McHarris,

Your essay presents some very interesting points. With respect to explaining the quantum from classical chaos, Chapter 16 from Ian Stewart's Does God Play Dice? The New Mathematics of Chaos makes a similar point. Also, I was impressed by your struggle to work with two different communities of scientists, apparently little interested into each other's field. In...

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Anonymous replied on Aug. 5, 2013 @ 16:24 GMT
Dear Cristi,

Thanks for your comments. I also read your lovely essay and was very favorably impressed by it. I included a few comments on the thread below your paper.

The link to my paper from the DICE Conference is Chaos and the Quantum. This paper includes a number of references your might find useful, although the idea of nonlinear influences in quantum mechanics is very much...

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Author William C. McHarris replied on Aug. 5, 2013 @ 16:27 GMT
Hi, again,

It seems one gets logged out if he takes too long to formulate an answer, so my post above is listed as "anonymous." But, as you can discern, it's from me. Again, thanks for your comments.

Bill McHarris

Armin Nikkhah Shirazi wrote on Jul. 12, 2013 @ 06:58 GMT
Dear William (if I may),

You have written an intriguing and engaging essay, and I can only agree with your main point that one should keep the possibility in the back of one's mind that nonlinear dynamics might explain some aspects of quantum mechanics that are currently not so clear.

Even so, there is an elementary point about which I am not sure, and I would appreciate if you could clarify. Suppose that nonlinear dynamics and chaos theory is behind the interference pattern one observes in the double split experiment with a beam of particles. Shouldn't the sensitive dependence on initial conditions imply that under some initial conditions the there will be noticeable variations in the interference pattern from one experiment to another in which the set up is almost but not quite identical?

I can understand that in the case of a single-particle beam, one might ascribe the inability to predict where each individual particle lands on the screen to such sensitive dependence. My question is about whether it is not possible that under some initial conditions the overall pattern is changed, somewhat analogous to the chaotic structures you presented in which order presents itself within disorder. I can't see why this would not be possible, and if that is correct, then it seems to me that this could be used to test the idea. But I'm not sure about this, so I hope you can provide an answer.

I wish you all the best on your endeavor,


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Author William C. McHarris replied on Aug. 5, 2013 @ 20:25 GMT
Dear Armin,

Thank your for your astute comments.

Yes, sensitive dependence on initial conditions offers the possibility for explaining the two-slit expedient. Classical chaotic scattering can produce patterns that look very much like diffraction patterns. This sort of behavior is discussed in detail in a series of papers in a special issue of "Physics D," introduced by a paper by Bleher, Grebogi, and Ott; a more straightforward discussion is given in the book, "Classical Dynamics: A Contemporary Approach," by José and Salatan; both are listed under Ref. [6] in my essay. The basic idea involves the intimate mixture of chaos and order in various locales of phase space for chaotic systems. This admixture can be very fine, since bifurcation diagrams for such systems tend to be self-affine, mathematically at least, all the way to infinite magnification. If a system finds itself in such a regime, then an almost infinitesimal variation in initial conditions can cause it to move back and forth between ordered (cyclic) and chaotic behavior, which means the difference between a particle's landing in a predictable location and being scattered "unpredictably" (not really fundamentally, but for all practical purposes it might as well be). Hence, the apparent diffraction pattern. This is only one of the so-called paradoxes of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics that can more or less be explained by analogy, having a parallel explanation in terms of nonlinear dynamics. Superficially, nonlinear dynamics and its extreme (chaos) can be just as counterintuitive as quantum mechanics, but upon deeper scrutiny, their peculiarities come about more logically.

Best wishes,


Member Kevin H Knuth wrote on Jul. 14, 2013 @ 06:22 GMT
Dear Prof. McHarris,

I enjoyed your essay and thank you for some interesting new ideas and enabling me to recall others. My Ph.D. focused on nonlinear dynamics in the mid-1990s but I veered into neuroscience, machine learning, astrophysics and now theory. So its been a while since I have thought in these terms.

I wish that you had provided a little more insight into how you think...

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Author William C. McHarris replied on Aug. 6, 2013 @ 20:08 GMT
Dear Prof. Knuth,

Thank you very much for your comments. I read your essay, and I was overwhelmed by the beauty of it! Imagine being able to come up with relativistic space-time symmetries from a different but straightforward and logical approach. Not being all that familiar with ordering theory, I had to take most of the derivations on faith, accepting the physical analogies as stated,...

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Member Kevin H Knuth replied on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 17:57 GMT
Thank you Bill for your comments and your generous words regarding my essay.

Perhaps Cvitanovich's work is not well-known in these circles.

I have not been on the FQXi forums, but perhaps discussing it there might be a useful endeavor.

I also am delighted that you too used an Amiga!

We seem to have a proclivity for obsolete platforms!

Looking forward to continuing discussions...


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Richard N. Shand wrote on Jul. 16, 2013 @ 03:59 GMT
Dear Prof. Harris,

Thank you for a very lucid explanation of how correlations arise in non-linear systems.

You mentioned how non-linear dynamics in QM leads to a smoother transition between observer and observed. This is also reflected in quantum information theory. The knowledge of the observer (classical spacetime) arises reflexively from iterative feedback and erasure of quantum entanglement information. (See my essay "A Complex Conjugate Bit and It".)

Best wishes,

Richard Shand

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Author William C. McHarris replied on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 18:22 GMT
Dear Richard,

Thank your for your observations. Yes, the interplay between observation and system makes for feedback, which can easily generate nonlinear behavior. I enjoyed reading your essay, which covered many of the same sort of ideas. It's all to the good that we are now able to question the strait-jacketed, forced Copenhagen patterns.

Best wishes,


Akinbo Ojo wrote on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 10:34 GMT
Dear Sir,

As the contest in Wheeler's honor draws to a close, leaving for the moment considerations of rating and prize money, and knowing we cannot all agree on whether 'it' comes from 'bit' or otherwise or even what 'it' and 'bit' mean, and as we may not be able to read all essays, though we should try, I pose the following 4 simple questions and will rate you accordingly before July 31 when I will be revisiting your blog.

"If you wake up one morning and dip your hand in your pocket and 'detect' a million dollars, then on your way back from work, you dip your hand again and find that there is nothing there…

1) Have you 'elicited' an information in the latter case?

2) If you did not 'participate' by putting your 'detector' hand in your pocket, can you 'elicit' information?

3) If the information is provided by the presence of the crisp notes ('its') you found in your pocket, can the absence of the notes, being an 'immaterial source' convey information?

Finally, leaving for the moment what the terms mean and whether or not they can be discretely expressed in the way spin information is discretely expressed, e.g. by electrons

4) Can the existence/non-existence of an 'it' be a binary choice, representable by 0 and 1?"

Answers can be in binary form for brevity, i.e. YES = 1, NO = 0, e.g. 0-1-0-1.

Best regards,


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Dipak Kumar Bhunia wrote on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 11:04 GMT
Dear Prof. McHarris,

I inspired a bit through your essay and it is my previlage to have a humble comment in support of you. What you wrote: "It from Bit or Bit from It?" is a bit like the problem of chicken and egg ..." in your last sentences,I think, I might have an answer in my submission. Where I expressed that "chicken" and "egg" are inseparable and in some scale of observations are nothing but mirror images to each others with the help of some new fundamental constants in the quantized nature.

If you please manage to have a time to read my essay and make a comment and if possible can rate on it I will be obligated very much.

With regards

Dipak Kumar Bhunia

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Author William C. McHarris replied on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 18:42 GMT
Dear Dipak,

Thank you for your kind words. Yes, chicken and egg, rather observer and observed, are in a sense inseparable, which leads to feedback and nonlinear behavior. I read your essay with pleasure — it's a neat, fresh approach to the question from a more philosophical approach. My biggest question concerns how we can discern an analog vs a digital Nature. If our detection (sensory) system happens to be digital, we cannot distinguish between analog signals and digital signals on a much finer scale than our system's scale; similarly, if our detection system were analog, Nature probably requires much higher resolution than we possess in order for us to discern the difference. Could you comment on this?



Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on Jul. 19, 2013 @ 09:10 GMT
Dear William. Hello, and apologies if this does not apply to you. I have read and rated your essay and about 50 others. If you have not read, or did not rate my essay The Cloud of Unknowing please consider doing so. With best wishes.


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Author William C. McHarris replied on Aug. 6, 2013 @ 20:44 GMT
Dear Vladimir,

Yes, I rated your essay a week or so ago. I thought it was a terrific essay.

Best wishes,


Héctor Daniel Gianni wrote on Jul. 19, 2013 @ 20:23 GMT
Dear William. C. McHarris:

I am an old physician, and I don’t know nothing of mathematics and almost nothing of physics, I read your essay and if you think I did not understand anything, you are right I did not, because I lack all the necessary knowledge to do it. What I learned was the kind of mind you possibly have, that could be the ideal to...

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Anonymous replied on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 19:31 GMT
Dear Héctor,

Thank you for your kind comments. And you are much too self-depricating — your resume is most impressive, and it was a pleasure to read an intelligent essay written from a different perspective. (Minor English language flaws didn't detract significantly, by the way.)

What I most liked about your essay was its common sense approach. Scientists, physicists in...

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Than Tin wrote on Jul. 25, 2013 @ 03:10 GMT
Dear William

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 relationship. And example of this is the Schrodinger equation and the Heisenberg formulation of quantum mechanics. I don’t know why that is – it remains a mystery, but it was something I learned from experience. There is always another way to say the same thing that doesn’t look at all like the way you said it before. I don’t know what the reason for this is. I think it is somehow a representation of the simplicity of nature.”

I too believe in the simplicity of nature, and I am glad that Richard Feynman, a Nobel-winning famous physicist, also believe in the same thing I do, but I had come to my belief long before I knew about that particular statement.

The belief that “Nature is simple” is however being expressed differently in my essay “Analogical Engine” linked to .

Specifically though, I said “Planck constant is the Mother of All Dualities” and I put it schematically as: wave-particle ~ quantum-classical ~ gene-protein ~ analogy- reasoning ~ linear-nonlinear ~ connected-notconnected ~ computable-notcomputable ~ mind-body ~ Bit-It ~ variation-selection ~ freedom-determinism … and so on.

Taken two at a time, it can be read as “what quantum is to classical” is similar to (~) “what wave is to particle.” You can choose any two from among the multitudes that can be found in our discourses.

I could have put Schrodinger wave ontology-Heisenberg particle ontology duality in the list had it comes to my mind!

Since “Nature is Analogical”, we are free to probe nature in so many different ways. And you have touched some corners of it.


Than Tin

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JOSEPH E BRENNER wrote on Jul. 25, 2013 @ 16:42 GMT
Hello, William,

I appreciated your Essay very much as I have been working with an extension of logic to real systems that goes beyond yours (Cf. my 2008 book, Logic in Reality, Springer, Dordrecht). My logic in grounded in the self-dualities and dualities of physics, but I can show that the "antagonisms" at the quantum level percolate upward to the macroscopic level, a kind of isomorphism. I hope you will read and comment on my Essay. Thank you and kind regards,

Joseph Brenner

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William Amos Carine wrote on Jul. 25, 2013 @ 20:12 GMT

Could you give an example of non linearity and feedback loops that involves gravity? I wish the paper would have gone into this more. Otherwise very well written.


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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Jul. 28, 2013 @ 00:59 GMT
Dear William,

A pretty exciting essay! I wish you had included more quantum mechanical details, but we all know how quickly nine pages runs out. I have now read two of your other papers and am still excited.

The topic is especially interesting to me because of a technique I've recently developed which adds non-linearity to the Einstein weak field equations. Adding non-linearity to equations from which the non-linearity has been removed may sound silly, but the result is equations that can be solved more easily. And there are other advantages to this approach. The technique is briefly described in my current essay which I invite you to read and hope you will comment on.

Thank you for entering your current essay and for years of work attempting to educate the world about the surprises that arise from non-linearity. Yours is very valuable essay.

My best regards,

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Author William C. McHarris replied on Aug. 13, 2013 @ 18:00 GMT
I received the following e-mail message from Dr. Klingman on 8 August:

*Dear Bill McHarris,

*I made the mistake of waiting until I had read your other papers before commenting on your essay. This put me near the end of the comments on your page. After you returned and began diligently answering each comment, I watched daily for you to reach mine. But we ran out of...

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Edwin Eugene Klingman replied on Aug. 14, 2013 @ 19:03 GMT
Dear Bill,

Thank you for your gracious response. I knew that we shared several ideas about the current state of physics, having read your essay and some of your other publications. We apparently share an understanding of human foibles and fashion. But primarily I'm excited about your perspective on non-linearity as potential source of 'weirdness' in QM.

From your comment on my thread...

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basudeba mishra wrote on Jul. 28, 2013 @ 11:45 GMT
Dear Sir,

Your highly thought provoking essay is an excellent analysis of an important subject. Here we compliment your essay.

Mathematics is the science of accumulation and reduction of similars or partly similars. The former is linear and the later non-linear. Because of the high degree of interdependence and interconnectedness, it is no surprise that everything in the Universe is...

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George Kirakosyan wrote on Jul. 29, 2013 @ 10:33 GMT
Dear D-r William,

I have read your interesting essay and I have find many common points with my confidence. First I want just emphasize that the ,,Copenhagen interpretation,, it just was the political decision only (and not scientific approach!) The long term troubles are start from here! However, your approach on the ,,chaos,, description of the behavior of QM object I see not so right because this concept (chaos) is just non applicable for the single object (as well as the ,,probability,,) The cause of nonlinearity, in my view, is hidden in the mutual deep interconnection of all possible parameters of Quantum object.

The nonlinearity may be represented as the classical transitional process, that is principally is possible to build on the base of wave equations. I am inclined to look your critical approach as very valuable. I hope you will find time to check my work Es text and we can continue talk.



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basudeba mishra replied on Aug. 1, 2013 @ 11:02 GMT
Dear Sir,

We just happened to read a book written in the 9th Century by Jayant Bhatt titled "Nyaya Manjari", where in the Volume II, 8th Chapter page 294, he has discussed observer created reality to scientifically refute it. The book is in Sanskrit, but its translations in other languages are also available.

He argues: some people say that the objects exist only when we observe them. This implies the existence or non-existence of an object rests on whether we observe it or not. But nonexistence are of various types. There is prior nonexistence of an object before it is transformed from being to becoming (cause and effect). Thereafter, it exists independent of observation or otherwise. This gives rise to number sequence. There is temporary non-existence, which is related to its transformation in space or time independent of the observer. This gives rise to negative numbers. There is destruction or death, which is the opposite of prior nonexistence. Then there is non-commuting nonexistence like position and momentum: a fixed position implies nonexistence of momentum with mobile coordinates and vice versa.Lastly, there is the absolute nonexistence, which means, it is impossible as per physical laws like the horns of a rabbit.



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Branko L Zivlak wrote on Jul. 31, 2013 @ 08:29 GMT
Hello Prof. McHarris,

Thank you for your informative essay. Your number A=3.82; could it bi closer to 3.829

This number fits better into my equation:

Where mathematical constant are:

Physical constants:


I'd like to get your comment on my equation.

Regards Branko

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john stephan selye wrote on Aug. 1, 2013 @ 22:11 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...

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Israel Perez wrote on Aug. 2, 2013 @ 04:01 GMT
Dear William

I just read your interesting and novel essay. I think that nonlinear dynamics is gaining acceptation in physics in recent years. In particular, in fluid mechanics, optics, soft and hard condensed matter physics. You mention that nonlinear dynamics may give a different view of quantum mechanics. My question is whether the mysterious phenomena such as entanglement could find a common sense explanation. What are your thoughts on this respect; what would be the interpretation under the nonlinear approach of the two-slit interference and entanglement experiments?

Finally, I'd like to invite you to read my essay and leave some comments. There I discuss about Wheeler's dream and propose a potential way to get out of the present crisis assuming that space is a nonlinear continuum medium.

I'll be looking forward to hearing any comments you may have.



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Israel Perez wrote on Aug. 2, 2013 @ 22:50 GMT
Dear William

It seems that my previous post was erased.

I found your essay very interesting and insightful. I'm interesting in understanding how nonlinear dynamics can explain quantum phenomena such as entanglement and the double slit experiment. I mean what would be the physical interpretation of those experiments. I would appreciate any comments you may have.

I think that you essay is of great impact and I have already rated it with the highest score.

I'd like to invite you to read my essay and leave some comments. There I discuss about Wheeler's dream and propose a potential way to get out of the present crisis.

I'll be looking forward to hearing any comments you may have.



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Jacek Safuta wrote on Aug. 3, 2013 @ 13:09 GMT
Dear Prof. McHarris,

Thank you for the very interesting essay that is also close to my ideas.

In afterword you claim: “Nonlinear dynamics and chaos theory shows us that disparate parts of nature are intimately linked together much more tightly than we could previously have imagined. Wherever there is feedback there is crossover. We could well be fooling ourselves with our “straightforward” linear, reductionist models. Could it be significant that chaos theory has had successes in almost every scientific field other than quantum mechanics…”

I would add something to this afterword:

The universe is a dissipative coupled system that exhibits self-organized criticality. The 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 example of that phenomenon is a pile of sand. When QM and GR are computable (during Lyapunov time only) and deterministic, the universe evolution (naturally evolving self-organized critical system) is non-computable and non-deterministic.

Best regards,

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Than Tin wrote on Aug. 3, 2013 @ 19:07 GMT
Dear All

Let me go one more round with Richard Feynman.

In the Character of Physical Law, he talked about the two-slit experiment like this “I will summarize, then, by saying that electrons arrive in lumps, like particles, but the probability of arrival of these lumps is determined as the intensity of waves would be. It is this sense that the electron behaves sometimes like a particle and sometimes like a wave. It behaves in two different ways at the same time.

Further on, he advises the readers “Do not keep saying to yourself, if you can possibly avoid it. ‘But how can it be like that?’ because you will get ‘down the drain’, into a blind alley from which nobody has yet escaped. Nobody knows how it can be like that.”

Did he says anything about Wheeler’s “It from Bit” other than what he said above?

Than Tin

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Antony Ryan wrote on Aug. 3, 2013 @ 20:29 GMT
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 comment on my 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 you very highly.

Hopefully the posts will be able to be retrieved by FQXi as I left a thorough reply to your comments on my thread.

Best wishes,


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eAmazigh M. HANNOU wrote on Aug. 5, 2013 @ 22:37 GMT
Dear William,

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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Margriet Anne O\'Regan wrote on Aug. 5, 2013 @ 23:58 GMT
Hello Bill - I'm a seventy yr old lady so I can call you that !!!!

I love it that you question 'mainstream' & are looking for alternatives such as might be found in non-linear processes with their concatenating feedback - & feedforward - loops.

My own investigations have led me to conclude that ‘information’ is NOT digits – no kind nor amount of them (including any that can be...

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Author William C. McHarris replied on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 21:18 GMT
Dear Margriet,

THank you very much for your lovely comments. I truly appreciate them. And I must say your are very astute and have a lot of common sense — it gives a breath of life to this contest.

I read your lovely essay, and I agree with your views. (I also rated it highly.) As you gleaned from my essay, I am strongly in favor of an ontological, realistic view of Nature — I come down strongly on the side of Einstein in his debates with Bohr. And if quantum mechanics were to contain significant nonlinearities, it could well do away with the distinction between it and classical mechanics, which (almost!) all of us agree is ontological. Because time is short and the FQXi server seems to be slowing down, I'll reserve further comments both your your letter and to your essay until things have quieted down. (I think we can still make comments after the voting has ended.)

If by Antipodean you mean Australian, I spent a marvelous month there last fall, traveling to Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and Port Douglas for the solar eclipse. A marvelous, beautiful — and friendly — country!

Best wishes,


Cristinel Stoica wrote on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 07:36 GMT
Hi, votes are vanishing again.

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Cristinel Stoica wrote on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 07:37 GMT
Hi, votes are vanishing again.

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George Kirakosyan wrote on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 09:04 GMT
Dear William,

Now is last day to completing somewhat our discuss and conversations.

I has find your work interesting for me, I have read it and has invited you to discussion (see my post above.) I did not get answer however. I think you was busy, just tired or with some other reason. Anyway, I must give my rating to your essay as really one good work, presented in contest that I have do.


George Kirakosyan

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Author William C. McHarris replied on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 21:07 GMT
Dear George,

Thanks for your comments. I was late is getting started with my answers and have simply become overwhelmed. I did read your essay and rated it very highly. I'll respond more fully to your above comments in a day or two.

Best wishes,


Manuel S Morales wrote on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 19:44 GMT
Dear William,

Excellent and well written essay! I found your statement, " in equations does not make a theory true - or relevant. Only experimental investigation - and the ability of a theory to be falsifiable can do that" to be reflective of the findings of a 12 year experiment I have recently concluded. Although you have a different approach to the topic than I do, I found your essay to be insightful and intuitive and most worthy of merit.

I could go on and on... perhaps another time.

Best wishes,


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Author William C. McHarris replied on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 21:05 GMT
Dear Manuel,

Thanks for your kind words. I really enjoyed your essay, as well, and I rated it highly. Since time is short and the server seems to have slowed down to a crawl, I'll respond more fully later.



Paul Borrill wrote on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 22:15 GMT
Dear William,

I have now finished reviewing all 180 essays for the contest and appreciate your contribution to this competition.

I have been thoroughly impressed at the breadth, depth and quality of the ideas represented in this contest. In true academic spirit, if you have not yet reviewed my essay, I invite you to do so and leave your comments.

You can find the latest version of my essay here:

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

May the best essays win!

Kind regards,

Paul Borrill

paul at borrill dot com

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