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October 28, 2017 to January 22, 2018
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January 9, 2014 - August 31, 2014
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It From Bit or Bit From It
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Is Reality Digital or Analog?
November 2010 - February 2011
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What's Ultimately Possible in Physics?
May - October 2009
Contest Partners: Astrid and Bruce McWilliams

The Nature of Time
August - December 2008

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Anonymous: on 9/1/12 at 19:34pm UTC, wrote Just... awesome.

David: on 2/27/12 at 11:20am UTC, wrote It's been a pleasure reading your posts. ...

Daniel: on 2/27/12 at 11:19am UTC, wrote I was really impressed with your writing. Corian Worktops

rapid share download: on 10/6/10 at 18:53pm UTC, wrote I read it with the great interest! Don't be confusing and share wit your...

Robert: on 11/12/09 at 11:40am UTC, wrote Hello,Richard! Your essay is very nice and I read it with the great...

Phil: on 10/25/09 at 21:08pm UTC, wrote Richard An excellent fable, is it deja vue that I seem to have heard...

Terry Padden: on 10/11/09 at 12:57pm UTC, wrote Richard There are ants and there are ants. Around here we have little...

Steven Oostdijk: on 10/10/09 at 21:35pm UTC, wrote Hi Richard, Really liked your story. It's easy to read and well to the...


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December 13, 2017

CATEGORY: What's Ultimately Possible in Physics? Essay Contest (2009) [back]
TOPIC: ant among giants. . .a fable by Richard P Dolan [refresh]
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Author Richard P Dolan wrote on Aug. 20, 2009 @ 13:54 GMT
Essay Abstract

The Foundational Questions Institute has invited all creatures great and small to opine on what is ultimately possible in physics. While many things can be proved impossible, to say what is ultimately possible would seem to involve more than a little prophecy. Most people are extremely bad at prophecy. You might as well ask an ant. Here is a fable about an ant who dabbled in physics and metaphysics.

Author Bio

Dick Dolan’s work brings metaphysical subjects such as ontology and consciousness into the domain of physics. A purely physical outgrowth of this work, his inflaton spacetime model, was recently published. His predictive metaphysics explains the motivation and justification for his spacetime model. Yes, he is a retired electrical engineer.

Download Essay PDF File

Florin Moldoveanu wrote on Aug. 21, 2009 @ 01:08 GMT
Dear Richard,

I am not sure what your essay has to do with this contest, but it surely was extremely entertaining and I liked it a lot until the end, when the ant died. I did not like the ending because . . . was identifying with the ant myself, and I wanted a happy ending, ha, ha.

Now seriously, if you have a new idea, then you should derive mathematical consequences from it, philosophical ideas are never sufficient by themselves. Please fell free to disagree and present counter arguments.

Florin Moldoveanu

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Brian Beverly wrote on Aug. 22, 2009 @ 07:03 GMT

Ants have tough exoskeletons. Are you sure physics giants can crush ant(s)?

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Anton W.M. Biermans wrote on Sep. 20, 2009 @ 04:27 GMT
It seems to me, Ant-on, that some present giants are but ants on steroids, their drug of choice Gi, named after the God who, according to ancient religion, created the universe. Gi-ants are famous for writing books with exciting titles like The Big Bang, Singularity and Exponential Inflation, books you can find in the metaphysics section of your local bookstore.

So if the ant of your fable is to prevent being squashed to antpaste he should perhaps investigate to what extent their theories are infected with, invalidated by religious prejudices and instead of humbly asking for an audience with some pontiff, show him to wear the proverbial emperor’s garments.

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Steve Brenner wrote on Sep. 23, 2009 @ 14:52 GMT
Hi Richard,

I enjoyed your essay. It was very readable. In a way you are addressing one part of the mission of the FQXi community. I see a great leveling going on here. Ideas, no matter how far they may stray from conventional thought, are given a voice here. Perhaps we learned a second lesson from Einstein, not about his breakthrough theories, but about how someone who was so much an outsider to the established academic community could offer such gifts to humanity. That says a lot about how our institutions operate. They may be excellent at propagating and expanding on an existing knowledgebase (and mind-set) but not so great at exploring brave new paths. This is understandable; Institutions tend to be self-perpetuating and tend to lean in the direction of where grant money is sourced.

And I guess another question that arises from your essay is What is the best way to foster innovation in science?. That may be a great topic for the next FQXi essay contest. :-) How do we find and cultivate those mini-Einsteins out there? Forums like this do provide welcome exposure to new ideas. And I for one would be quite happy to find just a few individuals who could deeply relate to my theories.


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Arjen Dijksman wrote on Oct. 7, 2009 @ 20:29 GMT
Dear Richard,

Your essay is a nice easy read, wherein every non-conventional thinker may recognize parts of his own story. Your conclusion about open-mindedness makes sense. As one of the aims of FQXi seems to be to open discussion about physics with non-physicists, I think a great deal of us is sensitive to your message. I had a look at your website. You are essentially interpreting conventional theory in your own words, aren't you? Or do you have new ideas, new predictions?

By the way, I promote this contest on twitter and on my blog. May I quote some phrases from your work, linking to this page?



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Author Richard P Dolan wrote on Oct. 8, 2009 @ 04:36 GMT
Hello Arjen,

I'm interpreting and explaining the standard models in the light of a new spacetime model that details the structure underlying the standard models. I would say many of my ideas and predictions are new. Of course, giants might use other adjectives.

Yes, you may quote from and link to any of my pages.


Dick Dolan

Florin Moldoveanu wrote on Oct. 9, 2009 @ 02:19 GMT
Dear Richard,

I also agree with Arjen and I think most of the participants in this contest identify with the ant (myself included). While you do not present new physics in your essay, I do think you deserve a special commendation prize for your entry.

PS: why not share your actual physics ideas with everyone else participating here. You can attach a file on any post in this forum.

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Steven Oostdijk wrote on Oct. 10, 2009 @ 21:35 GMT
Hi Richard,

Really liked your story. It's easy to read and well to the point with respect to the essay challenge, though it will have little chance off course since there is not enough math or metaphysics detail in it.

I would mostly agree with the statements in the essay, except the ones stating that the Standard Model is a such a huge success or that the latest century advances have been so great. I like to quote Carver Mead who stated that "the last 70 years of the twentiest century will be known as the dark ages of theoretical physics". Mostly due to math overkill and the closed fortress of the physics/math community. I think an outsider like Einstein would stand very little chance in this day and age.

Steven Oostdijk

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Terry Padden wrote on Oct. 11, 2009 @ 12:57 GMT

There are ants and there are ants. Around here we have little sugar ants that get into anything nice and sweet and make it uneatable. We use ant-rid on them. Then there are big bull ants that bite and sting like mad when you sit down on grass for a picnic. We pour petrol down the shafts to their nests and strike a match. Then there are white ants (termites) that if they get into the foundations of a structure eat it up from the inside until the structure collapses and becomes useless. We spray with pesticicides to protect our structures / homes.

I think your ant is a white ant and the Giants are merely being sensible and protecting a sound structure from being destroyed by pests.

After all only a pest would write this "There was still full employment for physicists," when there isn't; and many qualified physicists are forced to look elsewhere for any kind of a job. Just look at the BIO's for this competition.

Enrollments for physics and maths are declining. Biology is where the action is. Maybe the ant will be welcome there and not treated like a pest - but perhaps not; even biologists like untainted food, enjoy a picnic, and protect their homes from pests.

If the ant really wants to get into the Giants home, re-incarnation is the way. He should pray to come back as a Bull (like the one in a china shop) and then the Giants may not be able to stop him going anywhere he chooses - but watch out for physicists with sharp knives..

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Phil wrote on Oct. 25, 2009 @ 21:08 GMT

An excellent fable, is it deja vue that I seem to have heard similar tales before? It really seems to identify the main problem with physics. But you seem to have a giant ant friend in Peter Jackson with his 'Perfect Symmetry' essay, but you need to dig a bit into it to find it's power. The question is, can giants stand up to giant ants?

Best. Phil

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Robert wrote on Nov. 12, 2009 @ 11:40 GMT

Your essay is very nice and I read it with the great interest! Don't be confusing and share wit your ideas and thoughts with people who are fond od of philosophy and physic! I loaded very interest information about philosophic work of yours and if you will be interest in it may find from

Wait for your reply!

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rapid share download wrote on Oct. 6, 2010 @ 18:53 GMT
I read it with the great interest! Don't be confusing and share wit your ideas and thoughts with people who are fond od of philosophy and physic! I loaded very interest information about philosophic work of yours and if you will be interest in it may find rapidshare download

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Daniel wrote on Feb. 27, 2012 @ 11:19 GMT
I was really impressed with your writing.

Corian Worktops

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David wrote on Feb. 27, 2012 @ 11:20 GMT
It's been a pleasure reading your posts.

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Anonymous wrote on Sep. 1, 2012 @ 19:34 GMT
Just... awesome.

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