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FQXi FORUM
June 23, 2017

CATEGORY: What's Ultimately Possible in Physics? Essay Contest (2009) [back]
TOPIC: Ultimately, anything is possible by Hrvoje Nikolic [refresh]
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Author Hrvoje Nikolic wrote on Jul. 17, 2009 @ 08:16 GMT
Essay Abstract

Ultimately, anything is possible in physics, unless we know the final laws of physics. But we can never be sure that the laws of physics we know are the final ones, so we allways must admit that anything is ultimately possible, even if very unlikely in most cases.

Author Bio

Hrvoje Nikolic, born in 1970 in Zagreb, Croatia, is a theoretical physicist working at the Theoretical Physics Division of Rudjer Boskovic Institute in Zagreb, Croatia. His research interests cover various foundational aspects of theoretical physics, including foundations of quantum mechanics, general relativity, cosmology, particle physics, quantum field theory and string theory.

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Doug Huffman wrote on Jul. 24, 2009 @ 11:40 GMT
Physicist Nikolic, How can your assertion be falsified? If it cannot be falsified then can it be 'scientific' and, if not, physics? Thank you.

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Stefan Weckbach wrote on Aug. 1, 2009 @ 06:07 GMT
Dear Hrvoje Nikolic,

at first glance your contribution to the contest maybe for some readers seems to be a successfull exercise in "laziness" of typing some more words into the machine. But contemplating your essay for a while, it has a certain economical elegance and deepness for me that at least i can't deny. So at least for me there are good reasons for your essay to have been considered...

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Author Hrvoje Nikolic wrote on Aug. 3, 2009 @ 10:33 GMT
Stefan, thank you for your comments (with which I mostly agree).




Joe Fisher wrote on Aug. 3, 2009 @ 22:58 GMT
Thank you for your post on my essay Mr. Nikolic. I did not realize that Mr. Huffman had posted the same puzzling message on other essays in the competition. I was not being sarcastic in my reply to him. I thought that Huffman was making a valid point.

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Florin Moldoveanu wrote on Aug. 4, 2009 @ 00:44 GMT
Hello Hrvoje,

It is nice to see you participate in this essay contest. We propose diametrically opposed points of view, and the irony is if it were not for you to get me in touch with dr. Grgin’s research in the first place, I would not have entered this contest. By the way, I managed to overcome Bertram’s objections to quantionic uniqueness.

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Author Hrvoje Nikolic wrote on Aug. 6, 2009 @ 09:21 GMT
Hi Florin,

I am glad to see that you have also contributed to the contest. And I don't think we propose diametrically opposed points of view. All I am saying is that, ultimately, at least a little dose of skepticism must remain in our view of the theories we have.




Florin Moldoveanu wrote on Aug. 7, 2009 @ 02:05 GMT
Hi Hrvoje,

I cannot agree more with skepticism. By the way, are you aware of Joy Christian’s fantastic claim that he found a counter-example for Bell’s theorem? I think I know what his mistake is, but I was curious if you heard of him and if yes, what do you think from the Bohmian perspective. If no, just look him up on the archive and you will find his 3 papers on it along with his critics’ rebuttals.

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Author Hrvoje Nikolic wrote on Aug. 10, 2009 @ 08:37 GMT
Hi Florin,

Yes, I have seen some Christian's papers. For me, it doesn't make physical sense to have hidden variables which cannot be described by commutative numbers. But maybe I am too conservative.




Florin Moldoveanu wrote on Aug. 10, 2009 @ 14:14 GMT
Hi Hrvoje,

You are absolutely right; using non-commutative numbers (or a continuous state space) leads Christian’s back to QM formulated in the quaternionic language instead of the usual complex numbers.

Therefore his “counter-example” is no counter-example at all, and his claims of realism boils down to the SO(3)~SU(2) isomorphism. He mistakes his QM reformulation for a realistic theory because of the SO(3).

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Author Hrvoje Nikolic wrote on Aug. 11, 2009 @ 13:35 GMT
Florin, I am glad to see that we agree.




Brian Beverly wrote on Aug. 20, 2009 @ 09:06 GMT
Hrvoje Nikolic,

A very creative essay. It is not my place to judge but your paper does not cite any past or recent works perhaps because it is creative. I have read and heard from scientists that their funding and positions are determined by the number of citations their work receives. By doing something creative you must want your colleagues children to starve. Now they will not cite you and additional say mean things while you starve. Are you a sociopath?

If this reasoning is sound then creativity is impossible in physics. I have falsified your essay.

Respectfully,

Brian

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Irvon E. Clear wrote on Aug. 21, 2009 @ 13:43 GMT
Hrvoje,

If the "we" (human understanding) was removed from your statement would anything still be ultimately possible with the universe?

One of the conditions that would seem to be necessary at the moment of creation of an evolving universe would be, "Ultimately, anything is possible." The other necessary condition would be the existence of a place where anything is possible could occur.

From these two conditions there is an observed relationship: the greater the magnitude of the place where anything is possible could occur the greater the possibility that anything is possible will actually occur. From this observation I am suggesting that the creation of our universe was not of "anything is possible" but of the place where anything is possible could occur.

Creating the place where anything is possible could occur in "sufficient" magnitude evolves the occurance of everything that is possible.

It seems that each unit of place contains possibility.

Irvon

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Brad A. Alford wrote on Aug. 21, 2009 @ 23:32 GMT
How does "knowing the final laws of physics" necessarily make anything impossible? It seems to me that your assertion, to be true, must assume the final laws to be such that it is the physical nature of things to be fixed rather than flexible with respect to their possibilities.

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Author Hrvoje Nikolic wrote on Aug. 24, 2009 @ 09:26 GMT
Irvon, your question is very interesting.

If we do not take into account human understanding but consider the question of possibility from the point of view of true facts, then it is no longer true that anything is possible. In fact, in this case there is ONLY ONE possibility - the one that is actually realized in nature. For example, if it is the fact that you will not go to shopping tomorrow, then it is not possible that you will. Your free will cannot change the facts.




Irvon E. Clear wrote on Aug. 24, 2009 @ 15:49 GMT
Hrvoje,

Assuming that there is an ultimate descriptive model of the universe that is completely accurate (ultimate physics) does not cancel the possibility of free will. Reality is the sum total of all objects, forces and relationships at the moment of observation. It is an observation of results not a controller of events but instead a container of events.

Your example suggests that my decision not to go shopping is absolute. There are far too many variables within the environment of that decision to assume absolute results. I can be influenced by my environment (including other free will agents) to alter my decision all the way up to the final second of tomorrow.

Take another example: all of humanity has vanished from the universe, there is still a frog sitting on a river bank. A leaf falls from a tree and lands onto the frog's back. It can jump in many different directions or it can remain motionless. There is no certainty in what happens until after the frog acts. The frog takes possibility and turns it into a fact only when there is an observed result. Free will is always a possibility and free will becomes a fact when it becomes part of a result.

Absolute truths exist only within the knowledge of all of possibility. An absolute prediction of the future would carry forward a description of all potential consequences of all possibilities within that future. Again, it would describe a container of many results and not a specific result.

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Brad A. Alford wrote on Aug. 26, 2009 @ 04:34 GMT
Dear Hrvoje,

To clarify my query (above): Your argument appears to assume no reality wherein possibilities or their absence reside independent of knowing. It seems anti-realist in its ontological assumptions, since knowing the final laws of physics in some way relates to what is possible in physics.

Is this position the one you intended to convey?

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Author Hrvoje Nikolic wrote on Sep. 4, 2009 @ 09:03 GMT
Irvon, I am not talking about decisions. I am talking about facts. If you decide that you will not go to shopping, it still does not imply that you will not go to shopping. But if it is the fact that you will not go to shopping, then you will not go to shopping. Otherwise, it would not be a fact.

Brad, my point is that the very word "possibility" does not refer to reality but to knowledge about reality. It does not mean that reality itself does not exist.




Irvon E. Clear wrote on Sep. 4, 2009 @ 13:35 GMT
Hrvoje, from my perspective, reality is a subset of possibility. Possibility contains not only the reality that has evolved to the state of fact that we are observing but also all other possible realities that did not evolve into our observed state of fact. Possibility must exist before there can be an evolved reality.

In the shopping trip example I would note that the fact that I did not go shopping is a possibility and not an observed fact until we reference a definite mark in time. After the mark it is a fact because all other possibilities cannot change it. A fact occurs in the present and is a point of reference for observing the past. A possibility occurs in the present and is a point of reference for observing the future.

As an aside, I am reading many interesting statements regarding what is ultimately possible in physics and now I'm wondering if the more important question is what is ultimately possible in human experience?

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Arjen Dijksman wrote on Oct. 8, 2009 @ 19:01 GMT
Dear Hvroje,

48 words in your abstract. Reminds me of Stan Ulam's "Whatever is worth saying can be stated in fifty words or less" which I came across in Alfred Tang's essay. I didn't succeed in it. Like I have asked other authors, may I quote from your essay and publish on my twitter profile and blog??

Cheers,

Arjen

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Author Hrvoje Nikolic wrote on Oct. 9, 2009 @ 08:43 GMT
Arjen,

Of course you can quote me wherever you want to. You can also give the link to my paper.

Hrvoje




James Putnam wrote on Oct. 19, 2009 @ 23:55 GMT
Dear Hrvoje Nikolic,

Do you see meaninglessness as possible? Is purposeless disorder possible? Is knowing the nature of cause possible? Are seperate, unrelated, non-communicative fundamental causes for the operation of the universe possible? Is it possible for unintelligent properties to give rise to intelligence? Is it possible for the Theory of Relativity to be wrong? Is it possible for mathematical equations to define love? This message is not meant to be confrontational though I think it appears that way. I want to know where you stand with respect to the value of physics theory? Is it possible for theoretical physics to correctly define the fundamental properties of the universe? You are welcome to describe theoretical physics, either today's or the future's, from your point of view.

James

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Eduwardus wrote on Aug. 12, 2010 @ 10:54 GMT
Dear Hvroje Nikolic.

I will answer your paper from a little different point of view.

'All which can be caused, is possible'

Is it possible to acelerate an electron to a superluminal speed in void?

Is it possible to reach 0ºK ?

Does a particle with imaginary spin exists ?

There are many posibilities like these, which seem to be restricted by physical laws, and our purpose as researches is to discover them, an this is the wonderfull meaning of physics research.

Eduwardus: eduwardus@yahoo.es

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Stephen Boemler wrote on Sep. 16, 2011 @ 01:55 GMT
I am studing your paper on Time in Relativistic and Nonrelativistic Quantun Mechanics and I find it genius. I have been hoping someone could clear the air on The Bohmian interpretation and your work is excelent. Well Done! steveboemler@cfl.rr.com or stephen.boemler@navy.mil

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