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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster wrote on Dec. 16, 2014 @ 02:02 GMT
Physics and mathematics -- It seems impossible to imagine the history of either one without the other. For gravity theory alone, we see so many examples of this -- from Newton creating calculus, to Einstein mining differential geometry.

But how close is this relationship? How deep does it go? Does physics simply wear mathematics like a costume, or is math in the blood of physical reality?

And so, Introducing our 2015 contest topic: Trick or Truth? - The Mysterious Link Between Physics and Mathematics.

Why does math seem so "unreasonably" effective in fundamental physics, especially compared to math's impact in other scientific disciplines? Or does it? How deeply does mathematics inform physics, and physics mathematics? What are the tensions between them -- the subtleties, ambiguities, hidden assumptions, or even contradictions and paradoxes at the intersection of formal mathematics and the physics of the real world?

In this essay contest, we ask all of you to probe the mysterious relationship between physics and mathematics. As always, we are giving away over $40,000 in prizes, including a top prize of $10,000. Please read the contest pages for instructions, full rules, and a lengthy list of sample questions to start your thinking.

For those of you familiar with our previous contests, let me mention a couple small but important changes to our rules.

First off, the make-up of our pool of finalists. Our finalist pool this year will consist of the familiar set of 30 top-rated entries (as rated by entrants and FQXi Members) plus auto-inducted Member entries. In addition, our Review Panel this year will have the power to add up to 10 more finalists of their choosing. This new rule means that ALL entries will be eligible for the top prizes. However, only the entries in the base set of 30 have the guarantee that the panel will read them.

Second, inspired by the smooth runnings of our first ever Video Contest (Show Me the Physics!), we are resetting the prizes. Our First Prize is still $10,000; Second Prizes are still $5,000, and Third Prizes are still $2,000. This year, only first and second prizes will receive Membership nominations. And, in place of the familiar Fourth Prizes, we will give our review panel a pool of money -- $12,000 -- to divide up as they see fit. Prizes could go to best "amateur" entry, most original presentation, deepest insight, or whatever the panel sees fit to do.

The contest is open to anyone, so please share this info with everyone. Good luck and good writing!

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adel sadeq wrote on Dec. 16, 2014 @ 20:03 GMT
Hi Brendan,

Is there any special rule regarding linking to external websites, simulation programs , videos and animation. Thanks

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Dec. 16, 2014 @ 21:14 GMT
Hi Adel -- You are certainly free to include hyperlinks in the essay. Those things you link to are not part of the official essay, though, and you should assume that many readers [including the panel] won't follow the links.

I can see it might be fun at some point in the future to have a contest for all-around multimedia content.

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Anton Lorenz Vrba wrote on Dec. 18, 2014 @ 18:56 GMT
Brendan, Wow what a fantastic essay topic, congratulations! After skipping the previous contest I am tempted to try my luck again. While typing this I have mind up a mind - I will be submitting!

Looking forward to some great reading.

Good luck to all.

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Chuck Stark wrote on Dec. 18, 2014 @ 19:08 GMT
As a Mathematics undergraduate with a Physics minor, this topic is near and dear to my heart. I'm excited about this one.

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Dec. 31, 2014 @ 03:49 GMT
This topic seems rather apt...

I feel like I have a bit of a head start, with more than 25 years already researching this subject - in the context of my discovery that the Mandelbrot Set tells us something about Cosmology. For this to be true; the universe must be inspired by Math, on some level, and the Mandelbrot Set must exist outside of space and time - an example of the External Reality Hypothesis or ERH.

So I guess that tells you a little about what angle I might play this time.

All the Best,

Jonathan

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John R. Cox replied on Jan. 3, 2015 @ 17:56 GMT
Jonathan,

I look forward to your eventual essay, the subject of an inherent physicality that we express mathematically is perhaps a best chance of a unification of classical and quantum disciplines. I've said it before, and I'll say again; on the one hand we have a causal rationale of a single universe, and on the other hand we have a purely mathematic rationale of probability which without the application of the Born Rule allows any and every possibility to become a separate reality in an explosion of creation of all possible worlds. But we are human, and we want the universe to be perfect and to always operate unerringly according to some inalienable Law. So we have either a causal or a mathematic universe(s). But what if: the physical reality only exists because the universe does NOT always operate perfectly? That all probabilities whether causal or quantum, result from the simple truth that any event that could, should or would occur; simply doesn't, for no reason at all. The entire landscape of probable events would then become altered, and we could reasonably expect that despite there being no way to assign a parameter of probability to what might occur that doesn't, we would still obtain a single physical universe.

Happy New Year, jrc

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John Brodix Merryman replied on Jan. 5, 2015 @ 04:10 GMT
John C,

What if we thought of time, not as that vector from a singular, determined past, to a future of multiple possibilities, but simply as an effect of the dynamic interaction of all possible input, by which potential collapses into actual and then fades into residual? The process by which future becomes past, rather than a narrative timeline from past to future.

Then we would neither have to assume a predetermined future, or a past remaining probabilistic.

Regards,

John M

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John R. Cox replied on Jan. 5, 2015 @ 16:04 GMT
John M.

You still must differentiate what the dynamic entails for it to be theoretical rather than just musings of the (Beatles) Fool On A Hill. Hence Math, and connectivity. The 'twist' in topology is more simply understood by recognizing that a zero dimensional point IS a 'mapping' strategy, but what it portrays in reality is that at that point there is no loss of continuity from what is inward to what is outward in any one of the epicycles to which you might allude.

How it is that the math we devise, evolves from the biological organism to be able to distinguish between a sphere and a cube (for instance) is a very interesting study in itself. Keeping in mind that we only visually perceive an octave of the electromagnetic spectrum, and in reality that 'light' is just as dark as the rest of it. So being adverse to mathematics is not a valid argument against there being an inherent physical existence of what we formulate as math and geometry which Jonathan has painstakingly studied, investigated and crafted as an External Reality Hypothesis.

HNY-jrc

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

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Armin Nikkhah Shirazi wrote on Jan. 1, 2015 @ 06:21 GMT
I like this topic a lot! Looking forward to reading a lot of thought-provoking essays and hopefully to submit one myself.

Armin

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Rick Lockyer wrote on Jan. 4, 2015 @ 18:27 GMT
Poetry without language?

And what of prose, fiction, gibberish?

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Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Jan. 5, 2015 @ 02:57 GMT
You seem to imply, Rick..

While one can also write fiction or gibberish; language is essential to poetry. And by extension, given the topic here; trying to do Physics without Math is like writing poetry without language.

All the Best,

Jonathan

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John Brodix Merryman replied on Jan. 5, 2015 @ 03:57 GMT
Rick, Jonathan,

Which begs the question of whether language/math is foundational to the reality in question, or a notational tool to analyze and record it?

It should be noted that a clockwork universe, spacetime and the Copenhagen Interpretation, as explanation for the mathematical efficacy of epicycles, General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics, were all based on the premise that the mathematical structure was a direct representation of the physical reality and not simply a map of observed order. We know how the first turned out and given the increasing difficulties with extending the other two to cover a broad range of anamolies and inconsistencies, the jury would seem to be out on their applicability as well.

Regards,

John M

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Jan. 13, 2015 @ 23:33 GMT
Hi All,

I would like to point out that the first 2015 essays are now posted, with more to come. As the number of essays becomes overwhelming toward the end of the contest, now is an easier time to peruse these things.

I look forward to a number of remarkable essays I know will be forthcoming.

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster wrote on Feb. 26, 2015 @ 15:57 GMT
One week to go everyone---submit essays by 11:59 PM ET next Wednesday. We are already on track for a record number of entries [over 1/2 of all entries arrived in the last week in every past contest].

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Christophe Tournayre wrote on Feb. 28, 2015 @ 09:16 GMT
Thank you for organising these contests. It is a real pleasure to read some of the essays. It would be interesting to have similar contests in other fields such as Economics. FQXi is probably not the right place but where else?

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Sylvain Poirier replied on Mar. 20, 2015 @ 05:18 GMT
Last year's contest, which I missed, was quite close to economics. You may be interested to read my review of many essays of that contest, which I structured together with lots of ideas I have on the topic.

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Marcel-Marie LeBel wrote on Mar. 2, 2015 @ 04:51 GMT
Effectiveness of mathematics! Why?

Why are mathematics so effective in describing physical processes? We may find the answer in the foundation of mathematics. Mathematics is based on logic and this apparent effectiveness only points to one thing: this universe, luckily enough, appears to obey rules of logic. Now, for a universe to obey the rules of logic requires that it be operational on logic i.e. that its constituent and internal rules work by the rules of logic, or better, be actual simple rules of logic, like the rule of non-contradiction.

For a universe to be operational on logic, all of its constituent must be, although different in appearance, of the same nature because we can’t add apples and oranges. Better, it can only work using one cause. This is because no rule of simple logic could decide which of two causes would have priority. All in all, there would be only one type of stuff, only one cause for its spontaneous evolution.

You see, the effectiveness of mathematics is not a question, no. It is an answer, a fact. It is the answer to the question physics does not dare ask because it is outside its mandate; what is the universe made of and what cause makes it evolve spontaneously? Darn! So close and so blind!

The real question. Why does FQXI people exhibit this uncanny ability to present, every time, truly fundamental questions and every time turn down the only possible, yet philosophical answer?



I will go FQXI for a very statement... :-)

Marcel,

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

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Akinbo Ojo replied on Mar. 2, 2015 @ 11:42 GMT
Jim Snowdon,

I had thought of posting this on the 'Q & A with Paul Davies' blog, when I read Marcel's post and decided to post here instead as it appears both your post and Marcel's are trying to address some fundamental questions which are the subject of my current essay.

First, Jim you ask/say: "Real things exist, they endure, they happen...", "We do have motion in our timeless Universe".

And Marcel, in your post above you have dug progressively deep to try and gain access to the root, and concluded rightly in my opinion that, "...all of its constituent must be, although different in appearance, of the same nature", "All in all, there would be only one type of stuff, only one cause for its spontaneous evolution", "what is the universe made of and what cause makes it evolve spontaneously?"

May I therefore ask you both:

1. Can these 'real things' that exist PERISH?

2. Can 'a universe operational on logic and all of its constituents' PERISH?

IF so, what is the implication for physics and mathematics that the constituents and objects of a Physical or a Mathematical Universe (like that of Max Tegmark) can PERISH?

3. When something PERISHES, has it moved? Or does it remain in its place?

Regards,

Akinbo

*"How could what IS perish?" - Parmenides, 515 BCE

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Marcel-Marie LeBel replied on Mar. 2, 2015 @ 17:20 GMT
Akinbo,

Time is the loophole in the rule of non-contradiction. You can`t have nothing and something at the same time; so, only time may exist and defeat the testing of the contradiction. If time stopped, existence would stop and the rule of non-contradiction would be safe.

1. yes things may perish, but will not.

2. Not all the universe but, maybe, in black holes time-existence would stop without any trace.

Akinbo, it is like making +1 and -1 from zero. Put them back together and you get back zero or nothing.

But here time separates the +1 and -1 so they never cancel out.

Parmenides would agree!

Marcel,

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Akinbo Ojo replied on Mar. 2, 2015 @ 18:45 GMT
Marcel,

I am not convinced that the rule of non-contradiction has a loophole, it only needs more understanding. A duality is possible if logically viewed to exhaustion. Space can be both logically discrete and continuous. Having both discrete and continuous features may on the surface appear contradictory, but a deep examination would reveal that Time can be a separator of the continuous into discreteness. In that sense you could call Time, the 'hole' or loophole as you may prefer.

"You can`t have nothing and something at the same time"

Yes, that is true, but nothing can become something, and something can become nothing. But not being both simultaneously. And not all somethings must have their time stopped at the same time as you suggest.

Our cosmology may be wrong. The universe may be eternally existing and of infinite duration and extent. Parmenides perished 2000 years before so he couldn't have known like you and me of Hubble's discovery.

My preferred cosmological model "is like making +1 and -1 from zero. Put them back together and you get back zero or nothing."

So assuming the cosmological model is correct and the universe and its constituents can (begin and later) perish, will this be a ground to reconsider your agreement with Parmenides?

Do you have an opinion on 3. When something PERISHES, has it moved? Or does it remain in its place?

Regards,

Akinbo

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H. G. wrote on Mar. 7, 2015 @ 12:55 GMT
After some years I visite this website again and so I discovered this new contest. Of course it is a very interesting one. But on the other hand: at the internet there are publications to be find that go (probably) byond the recieved essays. I write "probably" because I don't want to offend anybody, but I don't mind if you skip the word. So the problem is not the quality of the essay, the problem is the competence of those who assess essays/publications about this subject. So there seems to be a collective problem: "Why we cannot recognize the truth?" I think this will be a really nice 2016 contest.

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Georgina Woodward wrote on Mar. 8, 2015 @ 05:37 GMT
Hi Marcus - welcome back, good point re. the extent of information available online. 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, from statistics YouTube, and that's just video. What to read, what to watch?- and still only 24 hours per day. Sometimes it feels to me like we are the rats in a cage just pushing buttons to get a reward, the more we push the more we get, but is it what we really need?

Good essay question suggestion. My first un-ordered thoughts:Information overload, a bias towards familiarity, greater weight/admiration given to celebrity or esteemed viewpoints than 'Joe Public's', The media, avoiding the difficulty of understanding the unfamiliar, personal bias/belief, harder to unlearn what we know than to learn, greater weight/admiration given to own ideas and creations than other people's in general (I'll call that one the origami frog syndrome- My frog is more desirable than yours whatever it looks like). I could probably go on but I don't actually want to write the essay here.

I've tried using diagrams as I have read that people like info-graphics, the mind finds them easier than plain text. I've tried experimenting with colour in the text, also related to the diagrams, to help people keep their bearings when discussing different facets of reality. Whether people actually find it helpful or distracting would be interesting to find out. I find it helpful.

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H. G. wrote on Mar. 8, 2015 @ 12:24 GMT
Well, I was a bit vague, so I will correct my false step. Reality is a system. Denying this fact, is eliminating science. Some ancient Greek meta physicists (philosophers) understood the consequence: we humans can only think what’s available within the system (reality). In other words: we can only express the system.

The internet is “full” of publications from the past and present about the foundations of reality. All those publications hold more or less correct information about the true nature of reality. So when we believe in structural thinking – scientists do – discovering the truth is simple: stick all those useful parts together and the truth about reality is nearly there.

Unfortunately, this has never happen. So we have to conclude that people who assess publications – including the FOXi contest – are inapt to recognize the foundations of reality. Therefore I suggested the 2016 contest: “Why we cannot recognize the truth?”

Personally, I am sure this contest will be a real nice one. Just because everyone is in the same position, no one has ever proved to stand aside. Therefore I expect contributions of all the members of FQI’s Scientific Directorate, the Advisory Council and – of course – all the FOXi members.

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

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Georgina Woodward replied on Mar. 8, 2015 @ 23:38 GMT
Hi Marcus,

I don't think its just a matter of simply joining all of our knowledge together. It isn't all more or less correct as you suggest but a "rag bag" full of true, contradictory, incomplete and false or misinterpreted evidence. I like the site hyperlipid because it looks at various scientific papers and analyses the conclusions. And often the conclusions are found by the blog author to be wrong -for example because other variables have not been considered or the experiment is founded on false premises.

For a long time saturated fats were demonized by implication of mainstream scientific evidence and there has been political and educational promotion of the 'facts'. There is now a change of opinion happening though I still read contemporary advice from doctors and nutritionists that is out of date.(It now seems that sugar and trans fats are the 'baddies'.

One reason reality is so complicated is that so many interacting variables have a part to play. It used to be thought that the genetic code determined the phenotype and health of an organism but now it is known that it is also how the code is folded and so read that influences outcomes. Recently I read (mercola.com) that intermittent fasting can extend lifespan but not if combined with vitamin C and E supplementation. So the idea that I have had for many years , that vitamins are healthy additions to ones diet is an oversimplification, and may actually be false under certain circumstances. Beta Carotene another healthy supplement is an additional health risk factor for smokers.

I don't think reality is as simple as a jig saw puzzle but is at least as complicated as a double sided one, without a complete reference picture.

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

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H. G. replied on Mar. 9, 2015 @ 17:15 GMT
Georgina,

Science is not a manual. Therefore , reading a publication like a manual is not the way to discover the foundations of reality. You have to read between the lines (trying to see the hidden picture). Anyway, I don’t suggest it is the only way to discover the foundations of our universe. Nevertheless, I think it is time for everyone to look into the mirror. And the first step is to understand what’s wrong about our basic assumptions. The thought that these assumptions are correct, is hilarious.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Mar. 10, 2015 @ 09:08 GMT
Hi Marcus,

there was an FQXi essay competition question "Which of our basic physical assumptions are wrong?" Did you read any of those essays? What do you consider to be wrong with "our"assumptions. I have found that there is far less consensus than I had once imagined.

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Akinbo Ojo wrote on Mar. 8, 2015 @ 14:55 GMT
Marcus,

You suggest, “Why we cannot recognize the truth?”. If the truth is recognized, should it be covered up as a secret or made open to the whole world?

Relatedly, if the truth and theory of everything is made known to terrorists or perceived opponents, is humanity safe?

It is my suspicion that the truth (or at least the correct direction to it) has already being recognized but for strategic economic and military purposes, no effort is being spared to conceal it. Hence a conspiracy to conceal it and divert attention and frustrate innocent scientists still searching for it, by denying them grants, refusing publicity of their work, etc. All this may be well meaning, at least in the opinion of Big brother.

You can put yourself as president of a super power nation whose scientists have stumbled on and recognized the truth and reported their finding along with its uses and misuses, and ask yourself what you will do with the finding.

The truth about the theory of everything is known where it matters.

Akinbo

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John R. Cox replied on Mar. 8, 2015 @ 15:46 GMT
For What Its Worth-

Paranoia strikes deep, Into your heart it will creep. It starts when you're always afraid, Step out of line and they'll come, And take you away.

from the song by: Buffalo Springfield - circa 1967

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Akinbo Ojo replied on Mar. 9, 2015 @ 11:04 GMT
Paranoia or Common sense?

JRC, if you are made President of your country, and your scientists stumble upon the theory of everything, will you call a press conference and announce the details to the whole world or keep it as a closely guarded state secret to be exploited in bits for economic and defense purposes?

Will you encourage other scientists to similarly stumble on same or try to divert their attention and frustrate them when they seem to be on the right track?

Akinbo

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John R. Cox replied on Mar. 9, 2015 @ 14:48 GMT
Akinbo,

If it were solely my choice, I'd seek billions in allocation to fund redundant work to keep big egos from doing something really dangerous. As usual. jrc

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Constantinos Ragazas wrote on Mar. 15, 2015 @ 18:26 GMT
Hello Brendan,

You need to be aware of a technical issue that exists with PDF downloads of the current essay contest. I have tried to download some essay PDF from this Contest to my iPad Air and got Red flag warnings about security risks and were not able to access these. Can you look into this and advice me what I may be doing wrong? Or what I should do right?

Constantinos

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Mar. 16, 2015 @ 15:44 GMT
Hi Constantinos -- Will you tell me any specific essays that give you this problem?

Also, have you tried downloading on any other set-up [different network, different computer]?

I checked a few myself, and had no problems--but possibly there are certain essays with issues.

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Constantinos Ragazas replied on Mar. 16, 2015 @ 20:41 GMT
Brendan,

I have recently gotten the following alert trying to download to my iPad Air the essay PDF for "Why is The Law" and also "Imagination and the Unreason of the Effectiveness of Mathematics" (two just randomly selected among others that worked fine)

warning: Something's Not right Here!

chrome is unable to verify that the URL for this site is correct

Constantinos

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Mar. 18, 2015 @ 20:09 GMT
Hi Constantinos -- I am sharing your comment with our webmaster; I'll let you know what we can figure out.

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Giovanni Alberto Orlando wrote on Mar. 16, 2015 @ 21:15 GMT
Hi all,

Humm ... There are many concepts and conclusions we have today in both Physics and Mathematics and let me add Chemistry (Periodic Table) and Biology (DNA like Multidimensional Communication) that are wrong and inconsistent for several reasons ... 1) The Mathematics we use ... still to send toys to Mars or Land on the Moon ... is based on the four basic Operations: +,-,* and /. Until here we are using simple tools to do complex Jobs.

2) The count Time ... also in Empirical mode ... Seconds, Minutes ... Years. Not with fixed measures like to use phi=0.618 ... the basis of growth ... of Life.

3) Einstein Theory is based ... not only on past two simplicities but it consider other facts like Speed of Light constant, Empty Space ...

Like a conclusion: Science is supported to weak columns and a New Mathematics to explain the correct Universal Design is required and imperative.

This 'New Math' (New for us) is Elegant and Quantum ... like Time, another concept not yet digested in Science and introduced (as a variable) by Professor Einstein.

Thanks very much,

Giovanni

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Michał Studencki replied on Mar. 16, 2015 @ 22:49 GMT
"The Mathematics we use ... still to send toys to Mars or Land on the Moon ... is based on the four basic Operations: +,-,* and /. Until here we are using simple tools to do complex Jobs."

Is it good or bad? (I couldn't get it from your comment.) I think it is good when we use as simple tools as possible to solve the task at hand. Complexity costs more, and every complexity is just...

view entire post


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

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Eckard Blumschein replied on Mar. 16, 2015 @ 23:36 GMT
Hi Michael Studencki,

While I guess, you are not a professional, you are claiming to understand mathematics correctly. I doubt that you will for instance grasp why I object to "adding up units (pebbles)" and why I consider the essay of Thomas Phipps a key to the insight that length contraction, Poincaré's spacetime, and all that have been unfounded.

If you are really willing and able to reveal a fundamental mistake, please explain what worried the late Einstein: the now. It seems to me, you share his denial of

the border between past and future.

Eckard Blumschein

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Anonymous replied on Mar. 17, 2015 @ 01:12 GMT
"While I guess, you are not a professional"

You don't need to guess: I stated that explicitly in my bio, because I knew that someone will play this card sooner or later. I haven't followed any formal academic career, I don't have a PhD, this is true. But this doesn't automatically mean I'm stupid or incapable of doing Math or Physics. On the contrary: I spent my all idle time for digging...

view entire post


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Georgina Woodward wrote on Mar. 18, 2015 @ 03:37 GMT
I would like to highly recommend "The Raven and the Writing Desk" by Ian Durham. As several people have said already it is delightful. Highly entertaining, in the style of "Alice in Wonderland". A dialogue of Hatter, March Hare and Dormouse, examining some interesting ideas pertaining to mathematics and reality.

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Lorraine Ford replied on Mar. 18, 2015 @ 14:02 GMT
Hi Georgina, Eckard and Michal,

Re Numbers

and re "The Raven and the Writing Desk":

I have a different view of numbers. I have just posted the following comment on Ian Durham's essay page:

If numbers are representational, i.e. if numbers represent physical reality, then you can't really say that numbers are "abstract concepts". What "tangible reality" does a number represent?

I contend in my essay (Reality is MORE than what Maths can Represent) that numbers MUST represent fundamental physical structures. And, though it's seemingly not a complete solution to the number "problem", I contend in my essay that a natural or a rational number must represent a ratio: a "relationship between information categories" where the category in effect cancels out.

Cheers,

Lorraine

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Georgina Woodward replied on Mar. 18, 2015 @ 19:40 GMT
Hi Lorraine,

I don't think numbers necessarily have to represent fundamental structures but they can represent all sorts of relations. Notation is representational but what it represents is (I prefer) concrete or within the concrete reality. Pi for example is not an actual concrete thing but a relationship.For analogy a friendship can be actual without being a concrete thing.

Many things in the universe because they are too small or too distant or too fast are not tangible but can be considered to have actual reality rather than being abstract. They appear a little strange, unreal, when distilled out into their pure state but as I said to Johnathan Dickau re. his, also very worthwhile reading, essay I don't think its necessary to distill the maths out and assume it then occupies an abstract mathematical space that preceded its being in the universe. As to your last sentence, I think i should read it in the context of your essay before commenting.

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Lorraine Ford replied on Mar. 19, 2015 @ 08:45 GMT
Hi Georgina,

As I responded to Ian who talked about "3 donuts, 3 tortoises, 3 coins". He was talking about subjective structures/relationships that exist in the brain, which one could represent with the written symbol "3" or the spoken word "three". There is nothing abstract about what exists in one's brain, which we subjectively experience.

The point I was trying to make is: what is the reality behind quantity in FUNDAMENTAL physical reality?!! What "tangible reality" does a number represent? We've got to stop always looking to an abstract platonic realm to solve every difficulty.

I contend in my essay (Reality is MORE than what Maths can Represent) that numbers MUST represent fundamental physical relationships. I contend that a natural or a rational number must represent a ratio: a "relationship between information categories" where the category in effect cancels out.

Cheers

Lorraine

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Sylvain Poirier wrote on Mar. 20, 2015 @ 06:17 GMT
Hi Marcus,

I agree that (for what I can see now) there is a problem with both the average quality of the essays and therefore the competence of the community of their authors rating each other, as I just explained in this general review of this year's essays with my selection of those I found best. Would you know particular good online publications from elsewhere on the topic ?

About this idea of the possible online presence of good publications outside the contest, and the difficulty to recognize the truth by synthesizing an overload of information in a big world, I expressed a similar remark in my recent review of last year's contest. Also my section there "A science in its infancy..." replies to your remark about the impression of human inability to find the truth (another aspect is overpopulation).

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Georgina Woodward replied on Mar. 20, 2015 @ 07:16 GMT
Do not forget the IKEA effect. We all prefer things we have made ourselves especially if we have put considerable effort into it. IKEA effect by Dan Ariely

No essay deserves a vote of 1. Take a look at the evaluation criteria in the competition guidelines. Essays should be voted according to their own merit not to raise them up or down the rating list in relation to other essays.Doing so undermines the objectivity of the FQXi given voting guidelines, that voters should be using.The positions of essays can change a lot as the competition progresses and more votes are placed especially in the last few days of voting.

From 'Voting' in the competition guidelines-"FQXi expects those providing community evaluations to do so based solely on the quality of the essay assessed. Voting collusion or bartering, mass down-voting, and other such forms of 'voter fraud' will not be tolerated..."

We are also encouraged to be constructive in our criticism and courteous in our interactions on this site. I therefore consider some of your comments in the linked review of this years essays to be highly inappropriate, rude and downright mean. You are personally insulting people who are passionate about their work and deserve respect whether you agree with them or not. Be ashamed.

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Lorraine Ford replied on Mar. 20, 2015 @ 08:36 GMT
I would like to second what Georgina said.

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Lawrence B Crowell replied on Mar. 20, 2015 @ 21:05 GMT
I enter essays here not so much for the contest, but to establish possible connections with others and to exchange ideas. I wrote my essay in a day this year. Nobody should count on winning unless they are a member of the Perimeter Institute or FQXi. There is maybe one or two 5th place winners not in that fold. The point is to have a little fun.

LC

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adel sadeq wrote on Mar. 21, 2015 @ 13:06 GMT
PBS will be having a special about the subject of the contest.

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Mar. 21, 2015 @ 20:23 GMT
This contest is just a boy's club: look at the male/female ratio of the entries. The important thing is that male-type views predominate - whether the entrants are male or female. Male-type views are that: with our powerful technologies, we can conquer knowledge and thereby conquer nature.

These views require that nature is a closed system: like the Mandelbrot set, where nothing essentially new happens after the initial setup of the algorithms, laws and initial parameter values. Enthralment to these mechanistic, computational, robotic ideas is destroying our planet. The hubris of it all reverberates everywhere.

The followers of these male-type views are deluded. It's abundantly clear that closed systems are necessarily stagnant and degenerate. In contrast to the absurd schemas they are proposing, the vibrancy of reality is all about the continual input of the truly new.

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Michał Studencki replied on Mar. 21, 2015 @ 20:56 GMT
Whose fault is it that there's not so many essays written by women? Is someone stopping women from submitting their papers? In the European Union, there are movements to enforce equality between men and women by law. These laws would require 50% of the available chairs to be chaired by women in governments, boards of directors in companies etc. They think this will introduce more equality...

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Mar. 21, 2015 @ 22:42 GMT
Michal,

I was talking about male-type VIEWS, not about women's rights. (Male-type views are that: with our powerful technologies, we can conquer knowledge and thereby conquer nature. These views require that the universe is a closed system)

Fact: the Mandelbrot set is 100% boring – nothing new EVER HAPPENS.

I'm saying that the universe is NOT a closed system: closed systems are stagnant and degenerate. The vibrancy of reality is all about the continual input of the truly new.

Lorraine

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Georgina Woodward replied on Mar. 22, 2015 @ 00:04 GMT
Hi Lorraine,

the new can be produced from the existing. Take gene shuffling and recombination in gamete production. That gives diversity by mixing up genes. Nothing added nothing taken away from the code. Then there are the various kinds of code replication error this can include additions and deletions producing yet more variation but nothing has been added or taken away from the universe.

What is necessary for novelty to arise is that the Object (concrete) universe is not a space-time continuum in which all events,including future ones are, but progression through a sequence of unique singular configurations. The Object universe can thus be materially closed, nothing added or taken away, but entirely new arrangements of the existing can form.

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Lawrence B Crowell replied on Mar. 22, 2015 @ 01:03 GMT
For a number of reasons I would concur with the statement that the universe is open. If nothing else it is open with respect to the limits on what is observable. The horizon scale of the observable universe is a very small length compared to the scale needed on the landscape or so called multiverse in order to identify the Einstein-Rosen bridge with the EPR of quantum mechanics.

LC

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Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Mar. 22, 2015 @ 03:04 GMT
Hi Lorraine,

I must agree that our universe is definitely not a closed system, because we know it contains life forms - being alive ourselves. I also feel that for humans, and other higher-order sentient beings, creativity and free will are essential qualities that allow us to create the truly new from what already exists. I spend a lot of time with highly creative people, who bring into being things that are truly new, and I study creativity too.

However; for me the Mandelbrot Set is not lifeless at all, and instead is a map describing an endless array of both simple and elaborate dances. Every spot on the Set has what is called a Julia Set associated with it, and these are studied by complex analysis folks, as effective models of dynamical systems. But I have for almost 30 years been mapping behaviors of the Mandelbrot Set that most people don't get to see, by changing the algorithm to reveal the dynamism in the generating process itself.

So while I concur that the universe is open-ended, that condition comes in part from options in how diverse elements of form are arranged or combined. Leonard Nimoy's character Spock spoke of Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations, or IDIC - which sums up how the universe is open-ended well. I think the Mandelbrot Set describes an infinite diversity well too, but perhaps only living beings can supply the ingenuity to create truly novel combinations from the diversity of forms supplied by nature.

All the Best,

Jonathan

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Mar. 22, 2015 @ 03:25 GMT
Georgina and Lawrence,

Re "the new can be produced from the existing. Take gene shuffling and recombination…":

Obviously the new must always be produced from the existing, but there is no 100% precise necessity, or platonic-realm law, or any law, that rules every single aspect of such a process. This is NOT randomness occurring, but the INPUT of the truly new. Using your terms, Georgina, I am saying that the "Object universe" is NOT closed.

Note: If "randomness" is some sort of force or causal factor that exists in nature, if "randomness" creates real physical outcomes, then science MUST add "randomness" to its list of "laws". Science hasn't done this because science can't quite believe that the universe could be an open system – science is always looking for "hidden variables" etc. (Naturally, science must continue looking.)

This is quite different to what you are saying, Lawrence, that the universe "is open with respect to the limits on what is observable" and presumably you also mean open with respect to what is predictable.

I'm saying that the universe is open period. Our knowledge, what is observable, and what we can predict is a separate issue that has nothing to do with the essential open character of the universe.

You have both failed to address the issue that closed systems are necessarily stagnant and degenerate.

Lorraine

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Georgina Woodward replied on Mar. 22, 2015 @ 04:38 GMT
Lorraine,

I'm not saying that change is random or that it is controlled by a platonic realm either. Taking the genetic example; it has been shown that some regions are more prone to recombination than others. Control regions tend to stay intact. However when on rare occasion change to one of those regions occurs very large changes to phenotype can result. There is something about those important regions, a material difference, that prevents them being broken up easily. Possibly to do with folding of the genetic material. Allowing potential for very rapid alteration of type through epigenetic changes, when the environment changes, but restrained when current form is well adapted

I'm afraid I don't agree that closed systems are necessarily stagnate and degenerate. That is only the case if a system is too small to maintain itself. For a population to be viable there has to be sufficient diversity. Without that deleterious recessive gene combinations increase and the population is weakened and may continue to decline to extinction. Likewise the energy in a system can become dissipated and no longer able to do work. But if the system is large enough and complex enough small changes can also become large change, the butterfly effect, and 'life' can be breathed back into stagnant regions. There is a big difference between a universe sized closed system and a cardboard box or pond sized closed system.I would argue that dynamic complexity requires a certain scale to continue without becoming stagnant and degenerate overall; arguments based on observation of small closed systems do not necessarily apply.

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Georgina Woodward replied on Mar. 22, 2015 @ 05:26 GMT
Lorraine, Lawrence, Jonathan, All

The visible universe, the one we fabricate from received EM data is open in two respects. One is new data not previously received being incorporated into the visible universe fabrication.(It may have been part of the Object universe data pool for a long time but has only just reached the Earth.) So it is new input to the Image -But not to the source Object universe. The second is EM potential sensory data is continually being produced from the interactions of EM with objects in the (Object universe) environment. That new data (newly added to the data pool)can form new images, not previously part of the visible universe, if received by an observer.

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Mar. 22, 2015 @ 20:41 GMT
How open can it be?

You suggest, Lorraine, that the universe is open in the sense of being non-deterministic in the object realm, not only in the realm of observations, perceptions, and measurements. I agree with that notion, to a large degree, but I think it is not also true that absolutely anything can happen, as though the evolution of the universe from this moment forward is completely open-ended, with no limits. So the question arises of what maximizes freedom of choice or optiony, within the spectrum of what is legitimately possible.

As it turns out; the Mandelbrot Set is notable in part because it is one of Math's answers to that question. The Mandelbrot formula involves multiplying a complex number by itself, then adding the result back to the original number. That is; you square the starting value, then add the initial value. If one were to substitute a higher-order operation, or a polynomial with more terms, the resulting figure turns out to be significantly less complicated and interesting. So by comparison to the Mandelbrot Set; those figures are indeed boring and repetitive.

Still; this does not mean that our fate is somehow pre-determined by the Mandelbrot Set, as we remain free to choose any of a variety of paths and goals. But in my view; the Mandelbrot Set's vast complexity is one of those things that assures our freedom of choice remains open, that the Math which reflects the laws of the universe do not make it a closed system, and so on. So if indeed it is what hold the door open to choice; you are wrong, Lorraine, to declare the Mandelbrot Set 100% boring. If the universe is actually open; the Mandelbrot Set is likely part of the reason why.

All the Best,

Jonathan

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Georgina Woodward replied on Mar. 22, 2015 @ 22:29 GMT
Hi Jonathan ,

I'm curious about what the squaring of the starting value represents in physical reality. Is it squared because the set as usually depicted is 2 dimensional, so what ever value is input is multiplied by the number of spatial dimensions? I have watched 2D depictions of 3D fractals, even animations of travelling within a 3D fractal.Which makes me wonder would the input value be cubed if looking at 3 dimensions? Also how do you reconcile structural change that can be observed by a "stationary" observer with the highly diverse but fixed nature of the set?

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Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Mar. 22, 2015 @ 23:30 GMT
Thanks for asking, Georgina..

Intriguingly, a squared term is maximally complex in 2, 4, and 8 dimensions - because the Mandelbrot Set is defined not only for Complex numbers, but also in Quaternions and Octonions. Most of the 3-d fly-throughs that you see are actually imprecise renderings of a 4-d fractal, or the changes observed as a 3-d projection is rendered while you are moving through the 4-d form - which makes it appear like a morphing animated 3-d object. Most often; what is rendered is a Julia Set, which is a figure associated with a particular spot on the Mandelbrot, as I mentioned above.

Even going into higher dimensions; it seems that the quadratic fractals exhibit the maximum degree of complexity and if you go to a cube or higher, instead of the squared term, you actually get a simpler and more redundant figure. But the 2-d Mandelbrot we are used to looking at is only a shadow or projection of a figure that also lives in 4 and 8 dimensions, and it is really the dynamism observed when these higher-d figures are projected into a 3-d world, which makes the Mandelbrot Set relevant to Physics.

Regards,

Jonathan

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Lorraine Ford replied on Mar. 23, 2015 @ 09:20 GMT
Jonathan, Georgina,

will get back to you ASAP

Lorraine

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Eckard Blumschein wrote on Mar. 23, 2015 @ 05:17 GMT
Sylvain Poirier wrote: "as Eckard Blumschein rightly pointed out, so many of the essays in this competition are actually extremely insulting against the whole scientific community." I never uttered something similar. Naybe, S. P. confused me with someone else as did Matt Visser? Actually, I would already abstain from any comments on "so many of the essays".

Instead, I don't hide my strong support e.g. for the essay by Phipps although the bitter tone of the 90 years old truth seeker might be felt as offending by those who cannot imagine that the logical basis of their most idolized belief might be shaky. Perhaps, S. P. feels "extremely insulted" and considers himself the spokesman of the whole scientific community.

According to my dictionary, an insult is a deliberately rude remark about someone. I see Thomas Phipps Jr. a highly cultivated perfectionist who manages to avoid insulting anybody.

Eckard Blumschein

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Sylvain Poirier replied on Mar. 23, 2015 @ 06:41 GMT
Sorry if I was unprecise in my reference to you so that it seemed to attribute you more than you meant, what I meant was to refer to your claim :

"Let me be "arrogant and unkind" too, and challenge you and all others to comment on the essay by Tom Phipps. Well, I do also not like his somewhat bitter tone."

so you do recognize that at least someone has a bitter tone. Apart from this I do myself consider that a number of other authors, especially Alan M. Kadin and Edwin Eugene Klingman, are implicitly very insulting to the whole physics community even if they do not look like having a bitter tone.

About "established truths" of physics, I would just mention here a big one, that Alan M. Kadin and Edwin Eugene Klingman are foolishly denying : local deterministic realism has been refuted.

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Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Mar. 23, 2015 @ 15:07 GMT
There is a sensitive dependence..

Precise definitions of 'local' and 'realistic' are required, and must be applied consistently throughout, because points that are close initially or appear identical, diverge later as any line of reasoning is followed. This could allow two different conclusions, with no logical missteps, because the bounding surface is a chaotic attractor.

Did you grasp that Ed Klingman is using Dirac's criterion Sylvain, instead of Pauli's? If you accept Dirac's formula, it naturally follows that Pauli's criterion in QM has a restricted codomain - which is only reasonable if the Physics of the experimental setup demand it. This is what Edwin Klingman calls into question, and changes the outcome if all other logical steps are the same.

So while, in some limited sense, local deterministic realism has been refuted, this does not speak to all of the subtle questions raised by EPR, and only applies if we use precisely the same definition used by Bell. I do not question that you may be correct; but I am universally skeptical of claims that various principles are decisively proved or refuted, and I look for further evidence that affirms or calls these claims into question.

Regards,

Jonathan

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James A Putnam replied on Mar. 23, 2015 @ 15:17 GMT
Jonathan J. Dickau,

Thank you for posting this. Your grasp of theoretical physics is remarkable. Your messages are always worth reading.

James Putnam

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Mar. 23, 2015 @ 20:51 GMT
Hi Jonathan and Georgina,

I am contending that Jonathan is genuinely creative of the new with his work with the Mandelbrot set. I.e. what he is doing has not been pre-specified from the beginning of time: reality is such that it allows the input of the truly new (i.e. new specifications) – reality is not a closed system.

On the other hand, Georgina's view of the nature of reality...

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John Brodix Merryman replied on Mar. 23, 2015 @ 21:59 GMT
Lorraine,

Causality yields determination, not the other way around. Events have to physically happen in order to be determined. The laws might be set, but the input only arrives with the occurrence.

Regards,

John M

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Georgina Woodward replied on Mar. 23, 2015 @ 23:06 GMT
Lorraine,

I now feel that I have been horribly misrepresented.I certainly don't think what Jonathan or anyone else is doing was pre-specified at the beginning of time. You will see in my essay discussion page -reply to Peter- that I consider hard determinism 'absolutely' abhorrent, incorrect and in need of overthrowing as the accepted wisdom.In that reply I spelled out the great...

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Lorraine Ford replied on Mar. 24, 2015 @ 01:08 GMT
But Georgina,

The Mandelbrot set is fully pre-specified. The reality you describe also seems to be fully pre-specified. As mathematician Gregory Chaitin says about the evolution of a rule-based (mathematical) system "anything that ever comes out was already contained in your starting point" i.e. the initial rules/specifications etc. Nothing TRULY new can ever happen because "anything that ever comes out was already contained in your starting point". Anything TRULY new, truly creative, can only be represented by NEW RULES i.e. new "laws" or "mini-laws".

How do you account for new rules? How is "participation in the creative process...possible" in your view of reality? Are you talking about "random" reconfigurations? If so, what is "random"??

Cheers,

Lorraine

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John Brodix Merryman wrote on Mar. 23, 2015 @ 21:56 GMT
Hi all,

Just checking in. Knowing which way the deck is stacked, I couldn't motivate myself to enter this one.

One would think that with epicycles in the history books, we would be a little bit more careful seeing mathematical models as quite so absolute, but then he who hesitates is lost and math is order, but that doesn't make it the source of reality, only the shell that is left when all that is fuzzy is boiled away.

Man created God in his image. Man created math from his perspective.

It would be one thing if it was even good math, but how can it be logically argued that space expands, based on Relativity, but the speed of light doesn't increase proportionally? More lightyears between us and those distant galaxies is just increased distance. If it were expanded spacetime, the lightyears would be stretched, but then the doppler effect wouldn't work.

Presumably time is symmetric, but don't tell that to physical inertia.

Looking at the human endeavor, it seems the same lessons just have to be repeated every so often.

Regards,

John M

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Mar. 25, 2015 @ 21:55 GMT
The view that nature is necessarily dumb, numb, passive and merely billiard-ball reactive lies behind the extreme hubris and presumption that dominates this male-dominated essay contest. It has seemingly never occurred to these dogmatic men that nature is essentially experiential, dynamic and creative of the new.

Perhaps if these men and their followers got out of their ivory towers a bit more, the extreme nonsense and misapprehension of reality that underlies most of these essays would not have occurred. If they did get out a bit more, they might realise that physics is limited to studying the structure that the dynamic, experiential elements of nature have created (where the elements of nature are particles, atoms, molecules, cells and other living things).

And this is physics today: its theories defy reality. Physics can't seem to envision a reality where what people do has any effect that was not pre-specified. I.e. physics can't envision a model of reality where the elements of reality actually participate in the specification of reality.

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Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Mar. 25, 2015 @ 22:20 GMT
In my view...

A lot of the bias you point out above has to do with the mindset of people who manage money, and exercise control on what gets funded - out of all the things scientists might want to explore. The way the funding process is handled, and the mindset of the people who generally oversee the selection process, greatly favors a kind of materialism borne of a reductionist and deterministic view - which is dictated by Economics.

So something like String Theory, which purports to show us the smallest possible components of reality, necessarily gets a lot of attention and funding. Likewise; big-iron projects like CERN, where they are looking to probe the highest energy phenomena (and continue the search for evidence of smaller pieces) have a lot of appeal, and give the sense that through incremental progress - the work of Science can get done.

By comparison; highly promising work in Quantum Mechanics has to struggle to get any funding at all, and maybe only if one of the main researchers is someone like Anton Zeilinger who has public appeal (evidently Bono likes his work, and People magazine labeled him someone to watch). As I said in my essay; AZ is one of those people who probably goes to work saying 'maybe this is the day we'll discover something nobody has seen before.' And it is well-known that his lab has seen some major successes, but at FFP11, he told us about the constant struggle to keep the funds flowing.

So it's not just the scientists to blame, but also those who elect what Science gets funding - and by what criteria that funding might be continued.

All the Best,

Jonathan

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Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Mar. 25, 2015 @ 22:36 GMT
To be yet more specific and blunt..

The mindset of those in charge (in modern society) seems to be one of prediction and control, which is an attitude that's poisonous to good Science and research progress. I took that subject up, in large measure, with last year's essay (which is expanded a bit in the book chapter to come) - but also in my lecture at FFP11, and somewhat in the one I was slated to give at FFP12.

I label the competitive nature of some scientists and others as an adolescent trait, even if it is seen in adults. If the goal is the perpetual increase of knowledge, then cooperation can carry us further along the way than competition can. However; this is a contest, a competition of sorts - even if it is more of a writing exhibition for some. So not everybody here buys into society's deterministic illusions, but many here are hoping to compete in the arena of ideas offered in this contest and its forum.

All the Best,

Jonathan

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Lorraine Ford replied on Mar. 25, 2015 @ 23:11 GMT
Quite so, Jonathan.

But one might have expected that in a "Foundational Questions" Institute essay contest, more attention might have been paid to foundational questions about the nature of reality!!

And more specifically, a model of reality is required whereby the elements of reality actually participate in the specification of reality. Surely this is a fundamental requirement of any such model, if it is not to "defy reality"?!

Cheers,

Lorraine

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James A Putnam wrote on Apr. 8, 2015 @ 23:31 GMT
Moderator: I believe that the essay "Is 1+1=2 an empirical proposition?" by Yafet Erasmo Sanchez Sanchez just received a one rating with no comment. I do not believe that that rating can be justified. I know others including myself receive one ratings never with comments; however, that is not my concern after all of these contests. But, if that rating for Sanchez's essay is from someone who is establishing a record of handing out one's, then I request this be looked into. I won't be questioning the result. This matter ends for me with this message. Thank you.

James Putnam

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James A Putnam replied on Apr. 9, 2015 @ 05:01 GMT
Moderator,

I believe that this same essay just received another one.

James Putnam

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Thomas Howard Ray replied on Apr. 9, 2015 @ 11:14 GMT
James,

It gives many individuals a sense of power, in this social game, to "moderate" the results in line with what they think the rankings should be. (I've seen at least one entrant openly admit it.) It has nothing to do with the merit, or not, of the essays' scientific content. If one reads enough essays and comments, the pattern is obvious -- solicit comments and ratings from a significant number of other essayists, wait for a significant spike in the rankings, and then use one's voting power to order the results to favor or disfavor the individuals (the individuals, not the essays) that one wants to keep at the top of the list. Wait for the finale -- that's when you'll see even wider and faster swings, like an eBay bidding war.

The end result is a struggle to elevate personality cults above scientific reason. It's a phenomenon that Einstein consistently warned against.

I've long disabused myself of the notion that the contest is about scientific discourse. There are many prominent scientists and mathematicians in this mix -- FQXi members or not -- with whom one would like to have a spirited debate. Very few of them (there are notable exceptions) are confident enough and honest enough and tolerant enough to carry on a dialogue of ideas when they know they'll be faced with a battle of personalities. Because there is little incentive to reply, and much negative motivation not to, most simply remain silent. I don't blame them one bit.

Tom

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Michał Studencki replied on Apr. 23, 2015 @ 12:12 GMT
James, you're right. There are very bad people amongst the contestants, who seem to manipulate the scores by granting the lowest score as soon as someone they don't like raises above 5.0 limit. My and my friends have observed many examples of such activity. One example I present in a comment on my essay's thread here.

I even have a proof that these people are fully aware of what they're...

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Lee Bloomquist wrote on Apr. 13, 2015 @ 17:59 GMT
Brendon,

Will the essay and comments be archived after the contest is over?

Or, will they be deleted after the contest?

I ask because I've posted links to my essay on other blogs, and if the essay and comments are deleted after the contest I will have to put them somewhere else.

However, would that be a violation of copyrights?

Or, is it OK to copy the comments to another web site and then link all my blog references to the new web site?

L

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En Passant wrote on Apr. 14, 2015 @ 08:32 GMT
I would like to nominate Gary Simpson’s comment as being “the best in this contest.” Its timestamp is “Gary D. Simpson wrote on Jan. 24, 2015 @ 21:27 GMT,” on Sophia Magnusdottir’s essay page.

It combines math, physics, (importantly) humor, and a good dose of the human element.

But I have a question for Gary. By any chance, does the “other tribe” live in Tennessee,...

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En Passant wrote on Apr. 14, 2015 @ 21:06 GMT
If I were a stock trader looking for undervalued opportunities, I would invest heavily in “Thoughts on a Theory of Theories by Daniel Braun” and “How not to factor a miracle. by Derek K Wise.”

Both of them are undervalued by a percentage sufficient to retire on. I have not rated them as yet (and I am not happy with Mr. Wise not answering any comments).

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Sylvain Poirier wrote on Apr. 16, 2015 @ 19:35 GMT
Hello. Since I announced my general review of this contest, I kept reviewing essays and expanded my list of those I found best, which is now more than 20 (ordered into 3 lists), and almost finished (I indicated those I still intend to review). I hope I did not miss any valuable one here. As I initially indicated, I still observe a big discrepancy between community rating and real value, so that the few good essays are now lost and hard to find in a flow of poor ones. So, I hope my review will be helpful for those who wish to mot miss the most interesting essays, and would have a similar sense of scientific quality.

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James A Putnam replied on Apr. 16, 2015 @ 20:22 GMT
Dear Sylvain Poirier,

Quoting from your chart, leaving out your show of weakness:

"QM: Scientific attempts = Hidden variables, Spontaneous collapse ;

Pure xxx = local deterministic realism, e.g. by E.E.Klingman (calls himself "physicalist" here but expressed spiritualism in another essay)"

Where is spiritualism expressed in Dr. Klingman's essay?

James Putnam

[My followup edit had only to do with capitalizing the 'K' in Dr. Klingman's name.]

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John R. Cox replied on Apr. 17, 2015 @ 15:08 GMT
James,

Don't waste your breathe. The Truth is that FQXi operates under tax rules as a foundation which grants tax write-offs to contributing sponsors to promote Public Interest in the sciences. If someone is on a personal mission to reform academia, and purge a public forum of the public, perhaps they are in a position to provide for the financial support to operate as a dedicated Quantum Mechanical peer review journal. Or their own personal blog might just not be as much of a draw as they think it deserves. Who cares? By the way, I found the pdf of your 'A New Gamma', thanks. jrc

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James A Putnam replied on Apr. 18, 2015 @ 19:59 GMT
John,

It turns out after reading Sylvain Poirier's website that, I shouldn't pursue this discussion any further. I hope my "A New Gamma" makes some sense for you. Thank you for taking the time to read it.

James Putnam

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Apr. 23, 2015 @ 04:49 GMT
Hi Brendan..

Now that the ratings deadline has passed, how soon will it be before the full list of qualifiers is known? There never was an announcement of who were the finalists in the video contest. I read in the guidelines that the selection process for finalists is a little different this year, with 30 in the core group and an additional 10 essays to be determined...

If I counted right; simply selecting all entries scoring 5.2 or above yields 41 finalists and includes all of the FQXi member entries. Now that might be too simple, but it would serve the purpose. I seem to have read 'up to 40 finalists' but there were over 200 entries after all. It would be nice to know how high a non-member needs to score, in order to qualify, and also nice to be able to say for sure whether I got in to the final judging.

Since I have many friends in this contest; it would also be nice to know whom to congratulate, or whether it's better to wait until later. Will an announcement be made?

Regards,

Jonathan

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Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Apr. 23, 2015 @ 05:03 GMT
Oops sorry..

I just checked the FQXi members list. There were entries by Alexei Grinbaum and Sara Imari Walker. I don't know what the minimum number of ratings was, but at least one of those entries is probably an automatic inductee in the finals.

All the Best,

Jonathan

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Neil Bates wrote on Apr. 23, 2015 @ 17:39 GMT
Dear Community,

Voting is now over, but discussion should not end with it. I invite entrants and other readers to keep communicating at essays. Maybe, with the pressure about ratings off, we can be more sincere and productive. There are many excellent philosophical meditations and overviews of foundational issues among the essays, and quite a few I think should have been rated higher. If you are more interested in specific physical insights or predictions (or discussions of previous experimental results and their implications, etc.) there are some examples.

Other authors can speak best for themselves, so I note that in the latter category, I offered a possible and novel (as best I know, at this level of combined generalization) explanation for space having three large dimensions in my essay. It applies known physics, generalizing electromagnetic inertia and mutual interactions between accelerating charges - as well as an intuitively more clear way to appreciate resolution of the "4/3 paradox." There are no new theories or special perspectives etc., although I also address the larger foundational questions. There is plenty of discussion already of some details, and I thank commenters for many fine compliments, challenges, and food for thought.

Last but not least: once again I appreciate the chance to compete with a diverse group of entrants delving into our ultimate mysteries and prospects. This contest included a few notable scientists, many of the often un-sung hard workers in various fields, and gallant and sometimes outstanding work from amateurs and independents, such as myself. Thank you!

Regards,

Neil Bates

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Neil Bates wrote on Apr. 23, 2015 @ 17:42 GMT
BTW, I see an edit link near my comment, but I'm sure I didn't from my home laptop at essays etc. (using Chrome.) Is there a browser or OS distinction, whether we can use that? It sure would have helped to have access to it before (and lots of others will agree)! tx

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Michał Studencki replied on Apr. 23, 2015 @ 17:55 GMT
I second that question. I also noticed that my edit button has gone somewhere, despite I'm logged in. A bug perhaps? It might be related to rating, since I noticed that the edit button disappeared after I logged in to the voting system.

Edit: Correction, the edit button works in this forum, but I cannot edit my posts in my essay's thread (there the edit button is not there).

Oh, and since we speak about technical aspects of this website:

There's one little thing that annoys me very much: The linking to posts is broken. A link doesn't work if the referred post is buried somewhere in the hidden thread, so following replies is almost impossible, unless one first unfolds all the hidden threads and only then clicks the link.

There's also problem with linking to particular posts since one has to figure out the correct id for the anchor from other links, such as "report post as inappropriate" etc. It would be better if the headings of the posts, or their timestamps, were clickable links which one could then copy & paste somewhere else as a URL leading directly to that post. Of course it would require solving the former problem first, for the linking system to work.

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

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on May. 8, 2015 @ 03:57 GMT
Since they are not announcing anything..

I want to congratulate everyone for making it into the finals. I am thinking that 5.4 may be the cutoff; but who knows? The rules appear to be written so that anyone can be inducted into the pool of finalists. So I want to thank FQXi and congratulate all of the lucky winners.

Warm Regards,

Jonathan

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Alan M. Kadin replied on May. 13, 2015 @ 14:43 GMT
Jonathan,

I think you may be right with your suggested cutoff of 5.4 among non-members for the finals, but that may depend on whether the FQXi administrators strictly follow the rules on auto-inducted member entries. According to the rules, such auto-inducted members must have submitted at least 5 comments on other essays. I identified 15 member essays, of which 6 do not appear to have submitted 5 comments (based on the Search tool on the FQXi website). Of those 6, 4 have community ratings below 5.4, and should thus not be among the base set of 30 finalists. But we may never know, if the FQXi administrators do not release the list of finalists.

Incidentally, my FQXi essay is rated 5.5, although it was 5.9 prior to the last day of Community Ratings.

Alan

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Ramin Zahedi wrote on May. 9, 2015 @ 18:59 GMT
Jonathan,

Good topic thanks. You mentioned ..."Physics and mathematics -- It seems impossible to imagine the history of either one without the other. For gravity theory alone, we see so many examples of this -- from Newton creating calculus, to Einstein mining differential geometry.

But how close is this relationship? How deep does it go?.."

Nice questions. According to a recent paper, we may conclude that there is an interesting and very deep relationship between mathematics and physics, maybe the most romantic one!: In fact, it is possible to derive all laws of the fundamental forces of nature, mathematically and uniquely. So, we may say mathematics is the King of the universe.. somehow...

Please see this new article (attached): https://www.scribd.com/doc/263420570/

attachments: 11_R.-a.-Z.1_the-fundamental-laws.of.nature.pdf

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Ramin Zahedi wrote on May. 9, 2015 @ 19:48 GMT
Dear Brendan Foster,

I apologize for the name, good topic and thanks. You mentioned ..."Physics and mathematics -- It seems impossible to imagine the history of either one without the other. For gravity theory alone, we see so many examples of this -- from Newton creating calculus, to Einstein mining differential geometry.

But how close is this relationship? How deep does it go?.."

Nice questions. According to a recent paper, we may conclude that there is an interesting and very deep relationship between mathematics and physics, maybe the most romantic one!: In fact, it is possible to derive all laws of the fundamental forces of nature, mathematically and uniquely. So, we may say mathematics is the King of the universe.. somehow...

Please see this new article (attached): https://www.scribd.com/doc/263420570/

attachments: 13_R.-a.-Z.1_the-fundamental-laws.of.nature.pdf

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adel sadeq replied on Jun. 1, 2015 @ 00:09 GMT
Dear Zahedi,

My essay's title is

“Reality is nothing but a mathematical structure, literally”

I read yours but I am not sure about the connection with mine. But mine predicts the mass of the electron among many other things. Unfortunately for you and me our papers are not very popular since they take some effort, yours is a lot harder. My system works with both integers and reals with some different predictions, it seems to favor integers. Thanks and good luck.

Essay

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Neil Bates wrote on Jun. 5, 2015 @ 00:43 GMT
Dear Contest Administrators,

I have not yet seen a list (or implied by giving the final specific criterion) of the finalists even at this late date. Maybe I missed something, but looked in the obvious spots. Sure, we can guesstimate from the stated policy about where the cutoff would be. Yet there are variables, and surely everyone would appreciate seeing that announced some time before the announcement of winners. That would be real close to final announcements anyway, but it would be more "businesslike" and give everyone a better picture of how they fit into things. Your, or anyone's thoughts and communications? Thank you.

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John R. Cox replied on Jun. 5, 2015 @ 01:14 GMT
Neil,

I'd have to go back and check contest rules and subsequent announcements, but if I recall correctly, June 5,2015 is the scheduled date for announcing awards to entrants. jrc

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John R. Cox replied on Jun. 5, 2015 @ 18:37 GMT
Neil,

I just researched and the announcement date is tomorrow, june 6. jrc

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Neil Bates replied on Jun. 5, 2015 @ 19:23 GMT
John, thank you,

However, I was referring to the larger list of about 40 finalists (or more precisely, the rule that demarcates them) rather than the smaller set of actual winners. Usually the former is released a few weeks after the voting ends. At this late date, I'll just relax and hope I do well.

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Jun. 5, 2015 @ 20:32 GMT
Good luck Neil!

And good luck to all who entered the contest, especially those who didn't know for sure if they were finalists. And thanks again to FQXi for hosting an event where one does not need to be a professional researcher to participate. Perhaps such a setting is the best chance some of us have to share our ideas with those who do Physics for a living. And of course we get to read about their good ideas too. With luck; we all learn something - amateurs and professionals alike.

Thanks to all who helped make this contest happen.

All the Best,

Jonathan

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Jun. 7, 2015 @ 17:18 GMT
It would be sweet..

If the organizers know how the evaluation process is going, that information would be good to tell the rest of us. Since June 6th has come and gone, without any information given, it is not unreasonable to expect that some preliminary announcement is made in the absence of final contest results - to inform us of when those results will be made known.

Of course; the FQXi folks may be too busy trying to tally all of the evaluations, so they can get the word out to the winners. But there are others waiting to hear what's up too. I really don't expect to be in the winner's circle this year, but I would be surprised if I have no friends and colleagues to congratulate - once the announcements are made.

So please let us know what is up.

Warm Regards,

Jonathan

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adel sadeq wrote on Jun. 7, 2015 @ 20:49 GMT
Maybe it is a hung jury. The essays maybe are equally good or equally bad.

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster wrote on Jun. 8, 2015 @ 19:27 GMT
Greetings everyone -- I would like to announce that we wlll announce the winners of the contest on Wednesday at 12 noon ET. I'll post more details as soon I have them. Thanks all for your patience.

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Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Jun. 9, 2015 @ 02:22 GMT
Thanks Brendan..

for giving us something concrete to work with. We appreciate that this is a topic with some unique subtleties, which is near and dear to FQXi members. I and many others look forward to learning the decisions of the advisory panel and I think we all appreciate being kept in the loop.

All the Best,

Jonathan

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Jun. 9, 2015 @ 02:24 GMT
I should add..

Now we have something to look forward to.

Regards,

JJD

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster wrote on Jun. 10, 2015 @ 22:12 GMT
Hi all -- The list of winners is posted here!

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