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James Putnam: on 4/7/17 at 19:36pm UTC, wrote Dear James Lee Hoover, I have not forgotten to rate your good essay. I...

Steve Agnew: on 4/7/17 at 16:44pm UTC, wrote Thanks so much for your insightful essay. I really had never read England's...

Torsten Asselmeyer-Maluga: on 4/6/17 at 20:02pm UTC, wrote Jim, as promised I read your essay (you commented already in my essay...

Steven Andresen: on 4/6/17 at 12:16pm UTC, wrote Dear James Hoover I greatly enjoyed your essay. What I credit mostly too,...

James Arnold: on 4/5/17 at 9:32am UTC, wrote James, an excellent essay. I especially appreciate “artificially...

Alfredo Oliveira: on 4/4/17 at 21:01pm UTC, wrote Dear James Your essay is an easy readable account of present understanding...

Gene Barbee: on 4/4/17 at 17:19pm UTC, wrote James, Thanks for reading my essay. What I liked about yours was the...

Thomas Ray: on 4/4/17 at 13:35pm UTC, wrote Jim, My energy hasn't been up to a lot of reading and dialogue, but rest...


Steve Dufourny: "happy to see you, but where were you Tom ? :)" in Manipulating the Quantum...

Thomas Ray: "Peter, Bravo!" in Manipulating the Quantum...

Joe Fisher: "Dearn Steve, There am no such a thing as a humanly contrived abstract..." in Watching the Observers

Steve Agnew: "Please understand that an infinite anything is unknowable and unmeasurable..." in Watching the Observers

kurt stocklmeir: "spring constant of time and space is not linear - this influences a lot of..." in Alternative Models of...

Kevin Adams: "Very interesting theme! Thanks a lot for this information. I just going to..." in Multiversal Journeys —...

Lorraine Ford: "Dear Rajiv, I have already addressed your 3 points, but I will put it to..." in FQXi Essay Contest 2016:...

munized ward: "Variety exists inside all populaces of life forms. This happens somewhat in..." in Natural Selection in...

click titles to read articles

Watching the Observers
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.

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

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

June 26, 2017

CATEGORY: Wandering Towards a Goal Essay Contest (2016-2017) [back]
TOPIC: Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice by James Lee Hoover [refresh]
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Author James Lee Hoover wrote on Jan. 31, 2017 @ 16:16 GMT
Essay Abstract

Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice (quoting Robert Frost). If entropy holds true for the universe, it will be ice, and it will be a natural goal, one shared by all living and inanimate things, according to a new theory by physicist, Jeremy England. Beyond this “mindless” law for humans are goals and endeavors that touch on life’s origins and life’s meaning.

Author Bio

James Hoover is retired from the Boeing Company in Huntington Beach, California, working as a systems engineer. His career in aerospace stretches back over twenty years and involves cost analysis, cost modeling and logistics research. In that span of years he has taught college courses in education, economics, computer science and English. Before his aerospace career, he taught high school. He recently published a science fiction novel called Extraordinary Visitors and publishes essays on university websites regarding his scientific interests. His personal interests include studies in particle physics, cosmology and interplanetary technology. He has advanced degrees in Economics and English.

Download Essay PDF File

Harry Hamlin Ricker III wrote on Jan. 31, 2017 @ 18:31 GMT
Hi, While the topic of the essay contest was wandering towards a goal, this essay seems to have interpreted that literally as it seems to wander and not arrive at a clear objective.

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Author James Lee Hoover replied on Jan. 31, 2017 @ 19:11 GMT
Thank you, Harry, for taking time to look at my essay. I would seriously be interested in how you would wander toward a coherent solution to the puzzle. Perhaps I lack the ability to clearly state the tie of mathematical laws to humankind's drift toward coherent goals and meaning, or perhaps that drift itself lacks the coherence the aim of this essay seeks. Again, I appreciate your interest.

John C Hodge wrote on Jan. 31, 2017 @ 18:53 GMT
James Lee Hoover

You thinking is impressive. The section 3 Emergence of Life in my entry seems to be along the lines you are following. You seem to have thought about things in which I'm interested.

I have written papers on cosmology and suggested a TOE. Summaries an be viewed at

particularly the video on CMB temperature because it talks about your topic and how life's increasing rate of entropy can be maintained - neither fire nor ice.

The videos are easier. The papers are referenced if you want the math heavy versions.

Perhaps you could comment on the STOE model.

Where do you publish? Links?


John Hodge

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Jack Hamilton James wrote on Jan. 31, 2017 @ 22:03 GMT
Given the title, I didn't expect to enjoy this essay but I actually thought it was a neat account of higher level unfoldings rarely discussed. Teleology is the 'explanation of phenomena by the purpose they serve rather than by postulated causes', so in one sense talk of entropy as something we derive purpose from is controversial in as much as its controversial to derive purpose and actions from evolution. But here I think the causal elements of entropy that may explain our actions, outside of the purposes we conceive in our head, is interesting. Thanks for submitting.

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Jack Hamilton James replied on Feb. 2, 2017 @ 02:42 GMT
Thank you James for your kind comment on my essay getting to the pointy end of this contest question. I certainly found your entry particularly interesting at the level at which it addressed the question though, and found it quite unique, which reinforces the value of having contests like these.

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John C Hodge wrote on Feb. 1, 2017 @ 05:32 GMT
James Lee Hoover

Thanks for responding in my essay.

The "How the Universe works" videos are the currently accepted model. The trouble is these models (GR and QM) are inconsistent and each has many observational anomalies. Some of the anomalies are described in only ad hoc additions. The STOE corresponds to both cosmology and the small of light. It has made 3 predictions about the pioneer anomaly and the theory predicted the result of an experiment in photon diffraction. It has also explained many observation anomalies. Physics philosophy suggest the STOE to be a candidate for a replacement model.


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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Feb. 3, 2017 @ 01:32 GMT
Good Essay sir, you started with “Does mindless mathematical law rule the universe, entropy bringing the universe’s end in ice, as energy diminishes and is no longer dissipated – a heat death in trillions of years? “……………… ended with” Still, goals of open-minded, intelligent creatures must invest all ventures with facts and contingencies: for example, what affect does an1.8 billion light-years across supervoid have on a cosmologist’s views and are thermodynamic systems in question open, closed or isolated?”

So some questions for further analysis…..

What will happen to all the energy dissipated by all energy sources in the Universe...

Will that energy go infinities of space in the Universe....?

What about enthalpy of the system?

Is it an open Universe you are proposing.... ?

Will the Universe required to have an end …

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Lawrence B. Crowell wrote on Feb. 9, 2017 @ 00:23 GMT
It is my thinking that what makes this possible is an open world. In my entry I outline a quantum form of open universe. It is similar to Prigogine who argued for open thermodynamics.

As for fire or ice, in the long run it is ice. The universe will exponentially expand to become ever colder and dark. Already we are in the dying out phase of stellar formation. Stellar formation is about 10% what it was 10 billion years ago. It will be 10% reduced in another 10 billion years. Already this galaxy is populated by about 60% (as I recall) red dwarfs, and in 10 billion years that will be over 90%. These stars will endure for 100s of billions to trillions of years. These will form the last embers and dying sparks.

In the short run we will die from fire. The sun will heat up and Earth will in a billion or two billion years become Venus #2. In 5-6 years the sun will swell up and potentially burn the Earth up.

Your essay was good. Cheers LC

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Paul N Butler wrote on Feb. 10, 2017 @ 22:51 GMT
Your comment on my paper’s page:


We posit some of the same mysteries, issues and questions but I tend to leave nature in the realm of a process we are left with and God in the realm of faith to embody what we can't seem to fathom. Entropy is a natural process which seems to govern the animate and inanimate -- the tiny and the colossal.

An interesting read.


view entire post

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Feb. 17, 2017 @ 06:11 GMT
James Lee Hoover,

An informative and easy to read essay. You note that "the most pervasive natural force permeating all aspects of human experience is entropy. It perhaps has the largest impact on why the universe works and why it supports life." In this sense it is interesting that Lee Smolin* pointed out that

" Gravity subverts ideas about thermodynamics ... gravitationally bound systems are anti-thermodynamic."

*See my 2013 FQXi essay: Gravity and the Nature of Information

In this sense I found England's idea that entropy drives matter to acquire life-like physical properties interesting, but self-replication to support the goal of dissipating ever more energy is a big step. I'll study his paper.

You say "our pursuit of goals depends on the contextual occasions of life", which is compatible with neural-pathway-based dependence in my essay.

And your statement: "our bodies contain the stuff of the universe, elements born and reborn – sometimes, animate; sometimes in animate." brings to mind the Santayana quote I mentioned elsewhere:

"All of our sorrow is real, but the atoms of which we are made are indifferent."

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Anonymous wrote on Feb. 17, 2017 @ 17:42 GMT
Hi Jim:

Thanks for reading my essay and thoughtful comments.I would greatly appreciate it if you could please provide your valuable rating to my essay.

I very much enjoyed reading your paper as well. Your paper asks the important questions and addresses all the key goals, purposes of human life beyond the mere survival of species on this planet earth. The mainstream science has to go a long way to see beyond the inanimate matter and biological-only evolution to recognize deeper cosmic and universal realities. I am particularly impressed by your expressed thoughts in your paper -

"So we use these piecemeal guides of mathematical laws, hoping, like a piece of life’s puzzle, we can put them all together into a universal whole. We wonder about ourselves, a living, breathing scalar example of universal things that live and die, achieving this cycle on a much smaller and less cosmic scale than a galaxy, composed of stars, planets, black holes, and gases, or the entire universe."

The key theme of my paper is to provide a quantitative scientific model to address the above with empirical evidence and test-ability in future.

Best Regards

Avtar Singh

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Avtar Singh replied on Feb. 17, 2017 @ 18:26 GMT
Dear Jim:

Thank you so much for your kind consideration and valuable feed back on my essay. I appreciate it deeply.

Best Regards

Avtar Singh

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Avtar Singh replied on Feb. 17, 2017 @ 19:47 GMT

Yes, I did rate your essay.



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John-Erik Persson wrote on Feb. 18, 2017 @ 22:29 GMT

Thanks for this interesting essay. It was very great to hear about Englands ideas of a relation between the second law of thermodynamics and self reproduction. A nice essay.

Regards __________________ John-Erik

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Natesh Ganesh wrote on Feb. 22, 2017 @ 03:44 GMT
Dear Hoover,

I really enjoyed your essay and thought it was very important that you discussed England's dissipation driven adaptation which I think is a very insightful step forward in the right direction. If you have time, check out my essay. You might find the section "An Argument from Non-Equilibrium Thermodynamics" in my submission "Intention is Physical" interesting. I show how the emergence of intention and purpose, can be combined with England's idea for adaptation under one single set of idea. Thanks.


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Steve Agnew wrote on Feb. 27, 2017 @ 03:44 GMT
Some say the world began in fire

Some say in ice

From what I've tasted of desire

There are many who would favor fire

But if the world would begin yet twice

I think that ice

Would also surely suffice...

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Peter Jackson wrote on Mar. 1, 2017 @ 12:12 GMT
Hi James

Well written and pertinent essay again. I've always has issues with entropy as it falls apart with the 're-ionization' we've found and in any recycling model, which is what I've shown wide evidence supports more consistently than the so called 'Concordance' Model. That means it would be increasing 'ice' before going through the hottest 'fire' (a quasar) before the next iteration, so even 'end' may not be the right concept!

However I like England's approach, and yours to discussing it. In particular I agree and have written about matter being condensed by shear (first discussed by the present Royal Astronomer in quasar jets in the 1960's). Did you know that the galaxy mass function has grown significantly over the last 12bn years?! I assign that to the fresh NEW matter condensed and mixed in with each re-ionization ('recycling').

Very nice essay, interesting and high up the bunch I think.

Best of luck


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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Mar. 4, 2017 @ 04:47 GMT
Thanks for the ping Jim..

Too tired to comment intelligently now, but I read your essay.

Comments tomorrow, most likely.



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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Mar. 6, 2017 @ 05:38 GMT
I'll start anew here..

I liked your essay, but I didn't know about England's work until reading it. The premise as stated seems a bit too simplistic, but a generalization of that idea could explain a lot. It tends to be the non-linear aspects of entropy that drive life's adaptation, Jim, because life tries to actively exploit the niches which are boundary regions, places of higher fractal dimension (roughness) and so on. The irregular regions are a haven for living creatures, because they provide a significant gradient over a short interval.

What most people don't realize is that non-linear entropy, and non-linear electrodynamics for that matter, creates islands of order amid the chaos - or rather regimes of order that alternate with chaotic states. To a degree; one can equate converging and diverging regions with purely real vs complex or hyper-complex states with terms that anti-commute or anti-associate as part of the equation. Anyhow; life exploits that to survive, finding a region where a proper mix of order and chaos prevails.

Did you know that if you overlay a bifurcation diagram on the Mandelbrot Set, it has a branching point every place the Set folds back on itself. But the really cool part is that the islands of order in the chaotic regions of the bifurcation map correspond precisely with the mini-Mandelbrots in the tail region of M. There is a place where all the trajectories seem to be drawn to converge at one point, and this location is called a Misiurewicz point. That place is of special interest to me, and is currently a subject of research. Would you believe a BEC formation quantum critical point and a Black Hole event horizon?

Of course; that explains the supervoid too.

All the Best,


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Author James Lee Hoover replied on Mar. 6, 2017 @ 06:30 GMT
Do you mean that the effects of the Mandelbrot set could explain a supervoid, exhibiting images of elaborate and infinitely complicated boundaries of progressively ever-finer recursive details at increasing magnifications -- thus the supervoid?


Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Mar. 6, 2017 @ 14:59 GMT
More so this..

The Mandelbrot Set is maximally asymmetric. It is the very embodiment of broken symmetry, where one end behaves as a source and the other as a sink. All the variations appearing at the cusp are extinguished at the tail, where vibration stops and absolute zero temperature is modeled at (-2, 0i). The cusp and the tail point in the same direction. The supervoid has a location in M near (-1.25, 0i), where a bulb opens up as a projection of the 'main' disc.

The spot I'm most interested in is at about (-1.543689, 0i), which is a Misiurewicz point. This is the spot described in my last post.

Warm Regards,


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Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Mar. 6, 2017 @ 15:13 GMT
This is elaborated here..

A little Math problem..



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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Mar. 6, 2017 @ 10:44 GMT
Dear Jim Hoover,

Thank you for reading my essay and for your comments. I am posting my reply here also.

The Novae and Super Novae (Exploding stars) produce many elements and even new flavours of neutrinos. These things are covered in another paper. Here page length limitation is there. I could not cover many points. To give a basic idea about Dynamic Universe...

view entire post

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Ines Samengo wrote on Mar. 6, 2017 @ 11:19 GMT
Hi, James, I enjoyed your nicely written essay. And the emphasis in England's theory, I truly think the clue to the question is around these ideas.

> Do the forces of energy given off by plasma, a fourth stage of matter, in fact, about 99% of normal matter in the universe, replicate and restructure in the form of dark matter?

Wow, interesting conjecture!

Thanks! ines.

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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Mar. 6, 2017 @ 22:01 GMT
Dear James Lee Hoover,

Hope you will spend some more time on Dynamic Universe Model...

Best Regards


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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta replied on Mar. 18, 2017 @ 10:33 GMT

Hope you will spend some more time on Dynamic Universe Model,

I want you to ask you to please have a look at my essay, where ……………reproduction of Galaxies in the Universe is described. Dynamic Universe Model is another mathematical model for Universe. Its mathematics show that the movement of masses will be having a purpose or goal, Different Galaxies will be born...

view entire post

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Anonymous wrote on Mar. 7, 2017 @ 16:07 GMT
Dear James Lee,

Thank you for the lessons I learned from your essay.

Indeed survival (and procreation) is for living agants the most important thing, but beside of that we are also worrying about the WHY, one of the reasons of this contest.

You had a very clear goal in your work : The goal of the Universe our reality.

In my perception it is "outside" our emergent reality that we have to search for the WHY.

I hope that you will find some time to read/comment and rate my essay "The Purpose of Life. (I rated your essay a 7).

Best regards and awaiting your comment

Wilhelmus de Wilde

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Philip Gibbs wrote on Mar. 8, 2017 @ 08:40 GMT
This dissipation driven adaptation idea is a fascinating topic. It is hard to see how life can be organising itself in order to dissipate heat more effectively. After all, a dark rock sitting in the sunshine dissipates heat very well. However Jeremy England's calculations seem to suggest that the idea is right.

This seems to leave open the question of what physical mechanism is making this happen. Thermodynamics says that entropy must increase but is there a law of thermodynamics that says a system will adapt to do it more efficiently? How can this be shown in general terms rather than just by examples?

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Vladimir Rogozhin wrote on Mar. 9, 2017 @ 19:37 GMT
Dear James,

Very interesting essay, high dialectic and deep ontology of the "LifeWorld" (E.Husserl). This is what is needed today to overcome the total crisis of understanding in science and society. Successes in the Сontest! Sincerely, Vladimir

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Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on Mar. 11, 2017 @ 00:49 GMT
Dear Jim

I enjoyed your essay - its quiet tone and range, and its being refreshingly well-written and also on-topic (unlike mine) contributed to that. I tried to read England's paper following your endorsement, but it was too technical for my immediate understanding. I would like to see his simulations. I get the feeling it describes how local causal molecular interactions can evolve into self-replicating living cells via a faster route than thought possible.

As to dark matter In my Beautiful Universe Model dark energy and matter may be simply due to the internal pressure of mutually repulsive Universal lattice nodes.



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Don Limuti wrote on Mar. 11, 2017 @ 06:01 GMT
Hi James,

A very creative essay. For your idea collection I consider dark energy and dark matter the source of gravity (and it mostly fits with GR). See

In this contest you go for the endgame of fire or ice! An intellectual adventure.

Thank you for your essay,

Don Limuti

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Dizhechko Boris Semyonovich wrote on Mar. 12, 2017 @ 21:07 GMT
Dear Jim!

I invite you to familiarize yourself with New Cartesian Physic

I appreciate your essay. You spent a lot of effort to write it.

If you believed in the principle of identity of space and matter of Descartes, then your essay would be even better.

I wish to see your criticism on the New Cartesian Physic, the founder of which I call myself.

The concept of moving space-matter helped me:

- The uncertainty principle Heisenberg to make the principle of definiteness of points of space-matter;

- Open the law of the constancy of the flow of forces through a closed surface is the sphere of space-matter;

- Open the law of universal attraction of Lorentz;

- Give the formula for the pressure of the Universe;

- To give a definition of gravitational mass as the flow vector of the centrifugal acceleration across the surface of the corpuscles, etc.

New Cartesian Physic has great potential in understanding the world. To show this potential in his essay I gave The way of The materialist explanation of the paranormal and the supernatural . Visit my essay and you will find something in it about New Cartesian Physic. Note my statement that our brain creates an image of the outside world no inside, and in external space. Hope you rate my essay as high as I am yours. I am waiting your post.


Dizhechko Boris

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Member Rick Searle wrote on Mar. 13, 2017 @ 00:35 GMT
Hello James,

Yours are always one of the essays I look forward to most in these contests, and I certainly enjoyed your latest.

Although I took a more literary approach than you my essay discussed Jeremy England and the Second Law as well. Please check it out when you get the chance.

Best of luck,

Rick Searle

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George Kirakosyan wrote on Mar. 18, 2017 @ 05:00 GMT
Dear James,

Thank you for attention on my work. I appreciate your support!

Coming to your essay I will just emphasize some points that you says: "Such laws are not mindless ..." Then you says "they not dictate the aim ...". This almost is enough to me to understand your vision on the contest question. Then you goes a little on side and you linked the aim with the entropy. This I can welcome only (I think not me only!) because the connection of the entropy with system organisation it should be obvious to everybody. And, the purposefulness cannot be without organisation. So, this also is nice!

But let me just tell you friendly that I am a little bit sceptical to dark matter. If you will ask my advice here then I will say - It will better to wait until we understand the physical essence of gravity phenomena, the elementary particles etc. I mean, it maybe that time we just will see that the ''dark matter" becomes not so necessary!

And, in the common sense your essay are one of nice works in the contest. So, I can wish you success only!

Best regards

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George Kirakosyan replied on Mar. 18, 2017 @ 05:33 GMT
I see here are many partisans targeted to you, also...

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Stefan Keppeler wrote on Mar. 19, 2017 @ 20:50 GMT
Dear Jim, throwing in Jeremy England's ideas adds a nice twist. Maybe they will eventually make our seemingly exceptional situation appear as less unlikely than we thought it was. Cheers, Stefan

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Christian Corda wrote on Mar. 20, 2017 @ 10:19 GMT
Hi Jim,

Nice Essay which approaches the topics of the Essay Contest in a very original way. I had fun in read it. Thus, you deserves a high score that I am going to give you. Good luck in the Contest.

Cheers, Ch.

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Jeffrey Michael Schmitz wrote on Mar. 20, 2017 @ 22:22 GMT

I teach and there are a few students, who might ask questions or just look interested, which make waking up and driving to class worth the effort; I feel that way when reading your essay. You have humanized the general topics of life, entropy and the state of the universe.

A few notes: the oceans are more of a heat sink with the sun being a heat source. “Organisms are intrinsically bound to increase in complexity through evolution.” There must have been a period early in the history of life where complexity increased, but after that, life mostly tended to the simplest state with a few exceptions (like us).

Best of luck,


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Yehuda Atai wrote on Mar. 22, 2017 @ 20:15 GMT
Hi James,

Interesting article, and I agree with the observation that all self-organizations from a grain of sand to galaxies are striving to keep the dynamic equilibrium in optimization relative to their state in the environment.

In my philosophical essay "we are together, therefore I am", I explain how it is possible to ratify reality and how the self-organization' from sub particle to a human to galaxies maintain their self-organization.

Thanks again

Yehuda Atai

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Ted Christopher wrote on Mar. 25, 2017 @ 20:38 GMT
Hi James,

This is Ted Christopher and I am getting back about your essay and also comment.

You cover a lot of interesting ground in your essay. The work of England I had never heard of.

I just read an article that might be of interest to you. The January Scientific American has an article ""Tangled Up in Spacetime" about the growing interest in 'It from Qubit". This is drawing a lot of attention from physicists.

I think that the DNA connection to mental specifics will be a surprising setback for science. The differences between twins (even conjoined ones) and some unusual behavioral phenomena suggest that there is more to it.

I hope your work goes well.

Ted Christopher

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Member Noson S. Yanofsky wrote on Mar. 27, 2017 @ 01:47 GMT

Several people have discussed Jeremy England's ideas. I think your explanation is the best. I wonder if his work can be proven theoretically or does it necessarily need experiments. If it is true, it is fascinating.

Thank you.


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Peter Bauch wrote on Mar. 28, 2017 @ 00:34 GMT

Excellent essay deserving the high rating I gave it.


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Alexey/Lev Burov wrote on Mar. 30, 2017 @ 02:28 GMT
Hi Jim,

I appreciate you mentioned "life's higher meaning". Don't you think that the biggest discoveries and inventions of humanity happened in following this meaning, not the goals of survival and comfort? If so, would it be correct to try to explain the core of human beings by means of entropy and survival? In our essay we are trying to show that this approach leads to the Epimenides paradox. One more question relates to the "unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics": how it can be accounted in the framework of your paper?


Alexey Burov.

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Jesse Liu wrote on Mar. 30, 2017 @ 07:35 GMT
Hello James,

This is a really lucidly written and interesting essay - thank you for an enjoyable read focussing on a wide variety of phenomena in the natural sciences. I definitely agree that the second law of thermodynamics is likely intimately connected with life. You refer to England's work, which is one we encountered but did not develop in detail in our essay with my coauthor. Instead we focussed on another interesting examination of maximising entropy production based on Kleidon's work and how a holistic thermodynamic view can help us understand how life emerged on Earth.

It is interesting that you allude to our marching towards a unifying theory of everything and understanding natural phenomena in an ordered way as a a goal-oriented behaviour. I find it very interesting how such awareness of physical laws even arose in humans out of evolutionary or entropy maximisation principles. As a particle physicist by day, it is striking how we as living systems emerging from likely thermodynamic principles, came to describe the microcosm at such exquisite levels of empirical precision. As you mention the arrow of time, it is intriguingly even somewhat present at colliders as muons always fly away from the collision point never towards it.

Thanks again for an interesting read!



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Gavin William Rowland wrote on Mar. 30, 2017 @ 08:52 GMT
Hi James

I very much enjoyed your essay. Much food for thought here, and well expressed. I like your focus on the big picture issues.

To throw a couple of extra ideas into the mix that may be of interest, I tend to subscribe to the entropy as energy dispersal interpretation. There is a wikipedia site on this and you may also find useful information here.

Regarding dark matter, my favourite theory is primordial black holes. Perhaps they would suck up a lot of plasma energy in a hot dense universe, if there were enough of them. You can read more about this here.

Best wishes


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Gavin William Rowland replied on Mar. 30, 2017 @ 08:54 GMT
Not sure why the first link isn't working - search "entropysite Lambert" and it comes up first


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Robert Groess wrote on Apr. 1, 2017 @ 04:17 GMT
Dear Jim,

Thank you for taking the time to read through and comment on my essay, I appreciate the comments you have made. I have in the meantime read your essay and particularly enjoyed that you tied in some of Robert Frost's work. (I had the pleasure of visiting his house in Vermont in 2013, and also quote him in my PhD thesis.) You mention "at the heart of England’s idea is the second law of thermodynamics: hot things cool down, gas diffuses through the air". This was what I was taught in physics classes, but I have since come to appreciate the implications of these observations only more recently. The rigid hold of the Second Law on energy and entropy accounting makes it a big restriction than it at first appears. And restrictions are one of the signatures of intentions (choosing a narrow physical evolution in an otherwise larger pool of options). Thanks to your perspectives here, it is something I would like to think about more.

Thank you again and I have rated your essay too.



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Vladimir Nikolaevich Fedorov wrote on Apr. 2, 2017 @ 06:12 GMT
Dear James,

Many thanks for the kind words about my essay .

With great interest I read your essay, which of course is worthy of the highest rating.

I like your thoughts

«It only seems fitting that with a curious zeal, we should seek the origin of the universe and the dynamics that orchestrated two of the greatest mathematical rules: the first and second law of thermodynamics, the first involving the store of energy and the second its dissipation, which the universe seems to be mindlessly moving toward»

When there is time, I will certainly analyze the interesting work that you offer

«They are – in principle -- the conditions described by Philip Marcus of the University of California, Berkeley. In “Physical Review Letters” in 2013, he described “vortices in turbulent fluids ” that spontaneously replicated themselves by drawing energy from shear in the surrounding fluid.»

«Also in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Michael Breener, a professor of applied mathematics and physics at Harvard, with his collaborators, presented theoretical models and simulations of microstructures that self-replicate. By “optimizing interaction energies to destabilize kinetic traps” and in a finite heat trap, clusters of specially coated particles dissipate energy by roping nearby spheres into forming identical clusters.»

Kind regards,


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Koorosh Shahdaei wrote on Apr. 2, 2017 @ 09:03 GMT

I can to some extent agree to your point of view in your interesting essay, and I wrote an article before that might be of interest to you.

Good luck with your essay

Kind regards


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basudeba mishra wrote on Apr. 3, 2017 @ 13:34 GMT
Dear Sir,

(On his essay) You are right that “our pursuit of goals depends on the contextual occasions of life”. How do we fix a goal? We feel the deficiency of something which creates a need in our mind. If we have the knowledge of the mechanism to fulfill the need, we fix that as goal and direct the necessary agencies in our body to execute the task. For this reason, there is a brief...

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Stephen I. Ternyik wrote on Apr. 4, 2017 @ 07:58 GMT
Dear Jim ! Let me first say that I like your essay, because you are asking a lot of questions and you try to make sense of the many scientific puzzle pieces that you studied in professional practice and academic theory. The hypothesis that the universe might have a beginning is an original formulation of the Hebrew Bible; the narration tells about the creation of living matter from matter, all this out of no-thing by 7 sound vibrations, with light and darkness as physical conditions of life on earth.Human beings operate as living clocks; we have invented the technical clock and the computer as extension of our brain. It is my conclusion that 'time' does only 'work' in living matter, e.g. biochronology; space and time are only moral dimensions to develop self-consciousness, the physical interplay only works by matter ('space') and energy ('time/light'), i.e. physical death converts our body from warmth into cold.

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Steven Andresen wrote on Apr. 4, 2017 @ 09:11 GMT
Dear James

I have taken James Putnams advice to read your essay, and although I havent finished, the opening is certainly very interesting. I will read on and return here with comment.

My essay has only received 8 ratings, which is two short of the ten required for prospectively qualifying finals, with few days till close. Would you be willing to review my essay opening, with a view to read on if it should capture your interest please? James seems to think you might find it of interest. It is certainly a unique and novel perspective, I can promise you this much.

Thank you for your consideration

Kind Regards

Steven Andresen

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Thomas Howard Ray wrote on Apr. 4, 2017 @ 13:35 GMT

My energy hasn't been up to a lot of reading and dialogue, but rest assured that I enjoyed your ambitious essay and gave it my highest rating.

I will comment on your parting observation: " ... the first and second law of thermodynamics, the first involving the store of energy and the second its dissipation, which the universe seems to be mindlessly moving toward."

It would be mindless, but for the role of time. Overcoming dissipation is the theme of my essay -- and supports my early conjecture that things don't change in time; rather, time changes things. Spacetime itself stores energy, explained by Einstein as time dilation and by quantum mechanics as information.

Good luck and best wishes,


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Gene H Barbee wrote on Apr. 4, 2017 @ 17:19 GMT

Thanks for reading my essay. What I liked about yours was the cooperative spirit toward contributions from others. As you say, science is like pieces of a puzzle coming together and your review of several authors was refreshing since many of us become so absorbed in our own work that we stop learning. England’s work was interesting because it describes life as a natural outcome of thermodynamic entropy. I felt that we had to look at the quantum level to see information gain but his work suggests otherwise. He could be right. I worked at the old Douglas facility in Long Beach for a while then moved to Eastman Kodak. At Kodak, I used to play with structures that would form from gelatin under the right conditions. Gelatin is an organic de-natured molecule and the structures (crystals?) were several meters long and very complex. It was almost as if the materials were seeking the life form they originated from.

Good essay.

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Alfredo Gouveia Oliveira wrote on Apr. 4, 2017 @ 21:01 GMT
Dear James

Your essay is an easy readable account of present understanding of the universe by Physics, built on England’s idea that what propels the universe is an urge to dissipate energy as fast as possible.

Thermodynamics is just the simplest case of this property; in my opinion, with little relevance for the evolution of the universe. What really makes the universe to evolve is...

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James Arnold wrote on Apr. 5, 2017 @ 09:32 GMT
James, an excellent essay.

I especially appreciate “artificially intelligent systems humans construct must perceive and respond to the world around them to be truly intelligent, but are only goal-oriented based on programmed goals patterned on human value systems”

I don't understand: “life exists because laws of increasing entropy drive matter to acquire life-like physical properties. Restructuring and making copies of oneself (self-replication) is a natural attempt to dissipate increasing amounts of energy.” I look forward to reading England's paper.

This was particularly elegant: “We wonder about ourselves, a living, breathing scalar example of universal things that live and die, achieving this cycle on a much smaller and less cosmic scale than a galaxy, composed of stars, planets, black holes, and gases, or the entire universe.”

I agree with what you wrote in your post on my essay, we are not so far apart.

Given your interest in cosmology, you might be interested in my hypothesis that

it is time, not space, that drives the expansion of the universe:

In any case, I rate your paper as a fine job.

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Steven Andresen wrote on Apr. 6, 2017 @ 12:16 GMT
Dear James Hoover

I greatly enjoyed your essay. What I credit mostly too, is the underlying and persistent theme that the very particular orders and complexities observed of this world, requires an organisational principle for explanation. An explanation convention does not provide for. That this is your focus speaks well to me. And I also greatly appreciated how you broke away from...

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Torsten Asselmeyer-Maluga wrote on Apr. 6, 2017 @ 20:02 GMT

as promised I read your essay

(you commented already in my essay forum)

At first, you are the second person which pinpoint to Jeremy Englands work. Certainly I hace to read it....

I enjoyed reading your essay. I'm not a fan of iced universe (it is cyclic therefore fire or the flat space become instable, so fire again).

Welldown (with a high mark from my side)

All the best and good luck in the contest


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Steve Agnew wrote on Apr. 7, 2017 @ 16:44 GMT
Thanks so much for your insightful essay. I really had never read England's stuff and was curious how his entropy differed from anyone else's. There really is nothing very unique or surprising in stating that entropy determines the arrow of time.

Furthermore, life is a decrease in one system entropy at the expense of even more increase in bath entropy. England's argument is that the chaos of Shannon entropy and some simple rules necessarily result in life. This is very much like the cellular automata approach and argue that life is purely a result of classical entropy and some hidden rules.

Of course, there is also quantum entropy and these classical approaches do not include any quantum entropy or quantum gravity. Therefore England's approach is not really complete. Note that buried in his logic are a lot of special rules to make life go where it is supposed to go.

This is tantamount to rigging the answer in the complexification of the model. Finally, England's approach does not include the role of quantum gravity because of course, mainstream science does not have quantum gravity.

Buried in the logic is a set of rules for entropy propagation that he simply invents. It would be much better to have those rules emerge from the quantum phase noise of quantum gravity, but science is not yet there...

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James A Putnam wrote on Apr. 7, 2017 @ 19:36 GMT
Dear James Lee Hoover,

I have not forgotten to rate your good essay. I will be submitting my votes in the last few minutes of the contest. Thank you for reading and rating my essay. Good luck to you.

James Putnam

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