Search FQXi

If you are aware of an interesting new academic paper (that has been published in a peer-reviewed journal or has appeared on the arXiv), a conference talk (at an official professional scientific meeting), an external blog post (by a professional scientist) or a news item (in the mainstream news media), which you think might make an interesting topic for an FQXi blog post, then please contact us at with a link to the original source and a sentence about why you think that the work is worthy of discussion. Please note that we receive many such suggestions and while we endeavour to respond to them, we may not be able to reply to all suggestions.

Please also note that we do not accept unsolicited posts and we cannot review, or open new threads for, unsolicited articles or papers. Requests to review or post such materials will not be answered. If you have your own novel physics theory or model, which you would like to post for further discussion among then FQXi community, then please add them directly to the "Alternative Models of Reality" thread, or to the "Alternative Models of Cosmology" thread. Thank you.

Contests Home

Current Essay Contest

Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation and Scientific American

Previous Contests

Trick or Truth: The Mysterious Connection Between Physics and Mathematics
Contest Partners: Nanotronics Imaging, The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, and The John Templeton Foundation
Media Partner: Scientific American


How Should Humanity Steer the Future?
January 9, 2014 - August 31, 2014
Contest Partners: Jaan Tallinn, The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, The John Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American

It From Bit or Bit From It
March 25 - June 28, 2013
Contest Partners: The Gruber Foundation, J. Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American

Questioning the Foundations
Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?
May 24 - August 31, 2012
Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, SubMeta, and Scientific American

Is Reality Digital or Analog?
November 2010 - February 2011
Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation and Scientific American

What's Ultimately Possible in Physics?
May - October 2009
Contest Partners: Astrid and Bruce McWilliams

The Nature of Time
August - December 2008

Forum Home
Terms of Use

Order posts by:
 chronological order
 most recent first

Posts by the author are highlighted in orange; posts by FQXi Members are highlighted in blue.

By using the FQXi Forum, you acknowledge reading and agree to abide by the Terms of Use

 RSS feed | RSS help

basudeba: on 3/20/11 at 6:18am UTC, wrote Sub: Possibility of manipulation in judging criteria – suggestions for...

John Merryman: on 3/15/11 at 16:51pm UTC, wrote Paul, Thank you for taking the time to reply and consideration of my...

John Merryman: on 3/15/11 at 16:46pm UTC, wrote Sreenath, I'm going to try to get to your essay soon. Sorry I haven't...

Paul Halpern: on 3/15/11 at 13:40pm UTC, wrote John, Although I have constructed my essay with the purpose of offering a...

John Merryman: on 3/15/11 at 0:09am UTC, wrote Peter, I admit that given the large number of essays, I haven't read too...

Peter Jackson: on 3/14/11 at 15:11pm UTC, wrote John Hope you got to read my essay as promised. Just to confirm, you got...

John Merryman: on 3/14/11 at 0:41am UTC, wrote Paul, Thank you for reading my essay and viewing it favorably. I've read...

John Merryman: on 3/13/11 at 17:47pm UTC, wrote Constantinos, You have my support, but i can't vote twice.


Rajiv Singh: "Dear Stefan, Sometimes, the website does not offer a login option, so you..." in FQXi Essay Contest 2016:...

Anonymous: "Dear Stefan, So far, I had been avoiding to comment on certain aspects of..." in FQXi Essay Contest 2016:...

Georgina Woodward: "Hi Community, I could probably have done something better but it gets the..." in Alternative Models of...

appzoro Technologies : "Informative post and all threads. I am new here and wants to share me..." in New Podcast: A MICROSCOPE...

Georgina Woodward: "A proposition for the cause of gravity, and inertia, and its relation to..." in Alternative Models of...

Anonymous: "So, Ginger, What is your thinking on whether Planck's yet to be..." in Purifying Physics: The...

Ginger Grey: "When we studied Physics at Central Washington University, we used to hire..." in Purifying Physics: The...

click titles to read articles

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.

Riding the Rogue Quantum Waves
Could giant sea swells help explain how the macroscopic world emerges from the quantum microworld? (Image credit: MIT News)

April 27, 2017

CATEGORY: Is Reality Digital or Analog? Essay Contest (2010-2011) [back]
TOPIC: Comparing Apples to Inches by John Brodix Merryman [refresh]
Bookmark and Share
Login or create account to post reply or comment.

Author John Brodix Merryman wrote on Dec. 29, 2010 @ 16:01 GMT
Essay Abstract

Reality is both analog and digital. The question is why.

Author Bio

John Merryman is a horseman by profession and an independent thinker by inclination.

Download Essay PDF File

Peter Jackson wrote on Jan. 6, 2011 @ 20:50 GMT

Very heartfelt, intelligent and logical, which is mostly alien to most physics of course.

I agree with almost all, including; "an analog emission of energy, of which the smallest measurable quantity is what is required to trip an electron to a higher energy level." And perhaps expend itself tripping a detector.

Can I ask you to consider the consequences of this; A 'particle' (perhaps concentration of superposed 'spin/oscillating' energy) pops up from the field when it's perturbed (say locally compressed perhaps due to a lump of mass in motion). It floats around innocently in the vacuum near the mass, moving with it at v, perhaps with many mates as part of a gas or plasma cloud.

A bunch of waves arrives. We might call it a 'signal'. Our particle gets charged up ('polarised is the term) and re-emits, or scatters the signal, at 'c'. This is standard atomic scattering.

If the mass was 'moving', it was wrt something, so the signal will have arrived with (your) space between the 'peaks' at N, but will be emitted with the speed adjustment v to make c. This is of course refraction, which slightly changes the path of the signal.

Our particle has mass due to it's motion, 'inertial mass', which as we know is equal to gravitational mass, increasing the effective mass of the big lump of mass it's hanging around with. if that lump slows down, our 'particle' will just evaporate away again, (just like photoelectrons in colliders) or perhaps even be 'annihilated'. This is all pretty well known physics.

Now take a different 'Bragg' view of curved light paths due to curved space time around mass, and gravity increasing with speed, and light always magically becoming 'c' locally no matter what speed the receiver/observer is moving at.

If you spend some time thinking that through, and with 20-20 vision, you may find a dark energy 'ether' is now allowed again, to allow communication for gravity and entanglement (but with a touch of red shift over distance, eventually taking it beyond the visible spectrum). So I think you were dang close! Let me know if there's anything is physics you can't see how it resolves.

Best wishes


report post as inappropriate

Marius Buliga replied on Jan. 8, 2011 @ 00:38 GMT
Dear John,

Very nice! Yes, that is the question.

report post as inappropriate

John Merryman replied on Jan. 9, 2011 @ 03:34 GMT

I think I get a bit of what you are saying. Bit of thinking out loud here...

Consider it in terms of a version of the uncertainty principle as applied to the relationship between infinity and the absolute. With all of reality being expressed as manifestations on the scale between these logical parameters. Infinity is pulling the waves out to completely flat dissolution, while the absolute is constantly tripping them up as an inertial state of point particles. Now take it down to the range physics like to work in. Particles/waves, position/momentum. Does it fit that physical reality is a manifestation of the tension between inertia and infinity? Consider the idea of the holographic universe, where every point is a reflection of the whole.... Entangled particles?

It seems physics is more willing to consider an absolute, with the singularity, possibly black holes, but there is a tendency to shy away from infinity, yet what draws light out so far and so fast, except the void? If the universe were truly finite, it would seem the boundary would be evident, yet all we really see is what we don't see, the horizon line imposed by the limit of how far light can travel, before it completely fades away/ is redshifted off the visible spectrum.

These distances get thrown around as bunches of numbers, but think for a moment just how far that light from the edge of the visible universe has traveled. It has been moving at the speed of light for over 13 billion years! and we can still isolate it as coming from a specific galaxy. Could it be sufficiently clear, if it actually traveled as individual quanta? Given the ways this light has been bent through all the intervening gravity fields and crossing other radiation, it only seems comprehensible as a continuous emission, such that there is a continuum of light hitting that detector and the photons all develop at the same point on it.

I guess I'm getting off the idea of infinity and absolute, but it's a relationship I'm trying to find a way to understand.

I'm not arguing against the idea of C being relative to the particular field, such that this field could be moving at v, relative to another, but I do sense there is some element of inertia/absolute which is at the basis of mass and the tendency of energy to collapse into it.


Thanks. These thoughts don't always line themselves up very clearly, so it's nice to get some confirmation that others see logic in them.

report post as inappropriate

Peter Jackson wrote on Jan. 10, 2011 @ 12:57 GMT

I entirely agree about red shift. Space had impedance. But I'm not seeing what you're seeing, and confused between infinity/ absolute/ inertia, which I see more as perhaps red wine, a continent, and a gyroscope. I do believe science is far more connected than we think, but I can't help you with those at present! except perhaps...;

From here, I see many local 'absolutes' as relative inertial frames. Do read my response to Edwin which explains better. You say 'bent', I say yes, but that is simply refracted by the plasma (which we know refracts) and also thus delayed.

And, yes, it's eventually red shifted into the infra red. It's so simple that black holes may even be red giants first before they accrete enough mass to fade from our visible spectrum, as with distance. Betelgeuse may even be close to becoming a black hole! It would be 'pulsating' in size as the event horizon moves with gravitational potential (and with a Lagrangian point not an 'infinite' singularity at it's centre of mass).

Are we all crazzy or is it me?

Best wishes


report post as inappropriate

John Merryman replied on Jan. 10, 2011 @ 19:45 GMT

Think of it in terms of basic whole numbers, zero to infinity. There seems to be a tendency to treat fractions as another form of infinity, a la Zeno's paradox and to treat zero as little more than the point between positive and negative.

The question with physics though, is what is the primary state and how do we derive this complex reality from it. Many people like to focus on something, be it anything from a platonic mathematical realm, to a spiritual entity, to spheres, to photons, to singularities, to primordial intelligence. They all raise the question of where did the god/photon/singularity/etc. come from?

The only way to get beyond that question is to propose it all came from nothing. So what is nothing? Is zero a point between a particle and its anti-particle? What if there are many such dualities? Is there a field of "nothing?" If we can have a point as nothing, wouldn't it be worth considering nothing as a field? Doesn't it really make some basic sense, that rather than zero being the center point of the coordinate system, that it be the blank sheet of paper? The non-fluctuating vacuum?

Rather than the entire universe arising from a singular point of nothing, wouldn't it possibly make at least equal sense that nothing would be an infinite field underlaying reality? If every point in this field is potentially fluctuating, wouldn't that have the effect of expanding space? And since this fluctuation would be mutually attractive, couldn't it then collapse into vortices of negation? Isn't that effectively what we see, stripped of theory; expanding distances, interspersed by vortices of collapsing residual mass, which then pretty much radiates the energy back out across the vacuum?

So back to the question of why do I associate absolute and inertia;

For one thing, I'm considering a slightly different understanding of inertia. Conventionally inertia refers to an object in motion staying in motion. Yet this motion requires some initial force, so if we go back a step before even that initial effect, there is motionlessness. The idea of perfect motionlessness might seem meaningless in the context of a point singularity, but not if we are looking at this as a field. As the neutral state, this vacuum field is the zero point between all positive and negative elements.

With temperature, the absolute is the negation of all motion, yet not of space and what is inertia, but the absence of effect, even that of the initial effect?

report post as inappropriate

John Merryman wrote on Jan. 19, 2011 @ 03:51 GMT
Scored 8 on two votes! This is going to ruin my carefully nurtured crackpot image.

FQXi is giving away 1.8 million to discuss time.

Why didn't they give that away in the first contest? Oh, wait, I didn't win anything anyway.

report post as inappropriate

Cristinel Stoica wrote on Jan. 24, 2011 @ 14:20 GMT
Dear John,

beautiful essay. I particularly like your question, "apple or inch?".

Best regards,


report post as inappropriate

Georgina Woodward wrote on Feb. 8, 2011 @ 23:47 GMT
Hi John,

I enjoyed your essay. You have packed a lot of good ideas in there, as usual, and never a moment to loose interest. I agree that the difference between counting and measuring is very important for how we comprehend reality.An interesting and original way of approaching the competition question.

I am reminded of the art lesson in which one must draw the spaces between objects rather than the objects themselves, to correctly portray their relationships. While the image produced allows the objects to be recognized it is irrefutably different from the image of the objects drawn without particular regard for the gaps between them.

report post as inappropriate

John Merryman replied on Feb. 9, 2011 @ 18:16 GMT

Your point about the art lesson reminds me of the dichotomy between eastern and western ways of thinking. How they think in terms of context and we think in terms of objects. I wonder if modern physics had evolved primarily in an eastern environment, whether it would be anything like we have now, with the focus on particles, waves, fields, strings, etc, rather than seeing them as artifacts of a larger context. It's like we can see the other side and know it's there, but we still just don't see it from that side. It's like the spinning ballerina;

In discussing the point I make about time being the future becoming the past due to activity, rather than the present moving from past to future, it's been pointed out to me that in eastern and native American thought, the past is in front of the observer and the future is behind, because one can see what is in front and knows the past, but can't see behind, or knows the future. From an objectively physical point, it makes sense as well, since events occur, then are observed and then the information moves beyond the observer. We, in the west, actually have the more primitive view, since the past to future perspective is essentially based on the subjective perspective of the observer, as they move through their context. Even in Einstein's fourth dimension, it is the motion of the point of reference in the three dimensional space that is the fourth dimension.

I guess the inherent physiology of this goes to the heart of why it is really difficult to change peoples views, since it's not even a conscious decision and people have built their entire world view on a particular perspective.

One of the reasons I focused on the cosmological question is that I know I'm not getting any attention from the PTB, so I took the chance that serious evidence against BBT might start showing up by the time these essay's are being examined. Quite a long shot, but there have been some interesting observations of very distant galaxies since then. Though, of course, no one is actually questioning the model. It will be interesting and Good Luck.


Sorry for not responding, but I became a bit overwhelmed trying to examine the various essays and have been only taking it in in small doses.

report post as inappropriate

Georgina Woodward wrote on Feb. 9, 2011 @ 23:12 GMT

It seems to me that the point of your essay is that it is the way we think about things that creates in our minds what they are. The physics being built with those imagined realities. But that in itself may have been misleading and needs reconsideration. Which you do in your essay. Starting from scratch would not be easy at all. But getting the Duplo together right before the fiddly Lego pieces is essential.

report post as inappropriate

John Merryman replied on Feb. 10, 2011 @ 04:19 GMT

Another part is the way things are that creates our minds, such as the right brain being a thermostat and the left a clock. I originally got this insight from E. O. Wilson, who described the insect brain as a thermostat. The point being it doesn't have any complex analytical or conceptual abilities, but merely reacts to energetic inputs. Which in many ways, describes the basis of our emotional functions. Hot/cold, attraction/repulsion, etc. It's that on/off, up down dichotomy.

On the other hand, our linear, rational side is effectively a form of clock, it that it's constantly calculating cause and effect, ie, using one click of the series to predict the next.

Then accord these two effects of motion, time and temperature with their spatial counterparts, distance and volume. When Einstein used three dimensions to describe space, he was using the vector of dimension to try to encompass the scalar of volume. When he was relating space to time, it was as a function of distance to duration. As I've argued previously, we could use ideal gas laws to say temperature is another parameter of volume, since changing the volume of a quantity of gas will have an inverse effect on its temperature. As a way of analogy, think of it as a balloon. If we reduce the volume, the temperature goes up, so like a ballon, squeeze it in one way and it bulges out another way. Just as with time and distance, if we accelerate mass close to the speed of light, its internal clock slows down, thus by increasing its external motion, we have the opposite effect of decreasing its internal motion.

Now because our rational side of the brain is the linear side, this correlation of vectors seems far more conceptually fundamental than the correlation of scalars, so "four dimensional spacetime" rings more bells than volume and temperature.

It's recently been proven that ants do know how to count footsteps, so they have a "clock" in their brains too.

report post as inappropriate

Alan Lowey wrote on Feb. 10, 2011 @ 14:14 GMT
Yes, yes, yes! I couldn't agree more John. This is just my kind of essay. This bit stuck out for me incidentally:

"What if there is some other way for light to be redshifted, proportional to distance? For one thing, it would make a far less complicated cosmology."

Yes, there is another way if the structural visualisation of the photon is envisaged. This is what's missing imo, a common sense pictorial representation of reality. Just as we know someone so much better if we've known them as they've grown up, so we will know the truth when we finalise a simulation model of reality from the moment of creation. It's not impossible or even too difficult imo. Just ditch everything and start from scratch. That's what I did and I think I've just about cracked the lot. Thanks again for an excellent essay which I've given you 10 for.

report post as inappropriate

John Merryman replied on Feb. 11, 2011 @ 04:48 GMT
Thanks Alan. Not so much ditch everything, as question everything.

report post as inappropriate

Alan Lowey replied on Feb. 11, 2011 @ 10:27 GMT
Yes, of course, I was getting a bit over excited. Not so much ditch everything, but assume a fundamental error had been made in the course of science history, is what I meant. Thanks again John.

report post as inappropriate

John Merryman replied on Feb. 11, 2011 @ 20:20 GMT

I think one of the primary conceptual fallacies afflicting physics predates the discipline. It is the basic assumption of time as the present moving from past events to future ones. While this is our evident experience, so is it evident that the sun moves across the sky from east to west. The problem was trying to construct of physical theory to explain it, prior to understanding the elementary fact that it is the earth which rotates west to east.

Same for time. It is the changing configuration of what exists which turns future potential into past circumstance. We don't travel the fourth dimension from yesterday to tomorrow. Tomorrow becomes yesterday because the earth rotates. Time is an effect of motion, not the basis for it.

Reality doesn't split into multiworlds at every quantum superposition. It's the collapse of those possibilities which is the future becoming the past.

There can be no dimensionless point in time because that would freeze the very motion creating it. Much like trying to take a picture with the shutter speed set at zero. This lack of an absolute instant means an object cannot be distinguished from its activity, whether its a particle from its wave, or a car from its context.

We can't have free will if the present is dimensionless point between past and future, since we can't change the past or affect the future, but if it's the motion of the present turning potential into effect, our actions are part of the whole.

I think there are various other conceptual issues causing trouble for physics. For one thing, it's based on a western, object oriented view of reality, rather than an eastern context oriented view. So we keep isolating objects/particles/waves/strings/etc. from their situation and then find it's all kind of fuzzy and not as absolutely precise as we assume it must be. Just think how different modern physics would be, if it had evolved in the east. It probably wouldn't even be physics, but called something like "contextuality." We wouldn't be looking for supersymmetric particles, because we would understand opposites are not something which annihilate each other, but balance each other and give context and deeper dimension to reality. The yin and yang, up and down, positive and negative of everything.

It's sort of a simplistic view, but complexity only covers errors in logic, it doesn't cure them.

report post as inappropriate

T H Ray wrote on Feb. 14, 2011 @ 13:04 GMT

We have always fundamentally disagreed, so there's no point rehashing the physics of spacetime.

However, I do appreciate that mathematics agrees with you on the difference between counting and measuring, and that it does lie at the heart of "why" digital and analog coexist. We measure probabilities (a continuous interval between zero and one) for a particle to exist; we count the discrete particles. There's a delightful story about the great Polish mathematician Sierpinski, who was waiting on a train platform with his wife, in a high state of agitation. "What's wrong?" she asked. "We're missing a bag," he replied. "No," she said, "all six bags are here." "They are not!" he shot back -- "I've counted them several times now: zero, one, two, three, four, five!"

How one starts counting determines the outcome, and certainly quantized spacetime depends on that "smallest measurable quantitity." Zero isn't measurable, however -- it's a number, but not a quantity. That's what Einstein was up against, the appearance of singularities.


report post as inappropriate

John Merryman replied on Feb. 14, 2011 @ 20:25 GMT
Thanks Tom.

While I haven't followed the thread of logic to really make this point before, I've wondered whether math doesn't treat fractions as a form of infinite regression, a la Zeno's paradox and effectively avoid dealing with some of the complications of nothing/zero. Using zero as a marker is necessary, but that really makes it a one. Geometry treats the center point of the coordinate system as zero, but if it is a one, doesn't that mean the blank sheet of paper, without any marks, is the real zero?

report post as inappropriate

John Merryman replied on Feb. 14, 2011 @ 20:38 GMT
In that sense, we exist within this zero/absolute and that's why everything balances out, but can't collapse in toto, only as particular points scattered across the void.

report post as inappropriate

T H Ray replied on Feb. 16, 2011 @ 17:29 GMT
That's the thing, John. A blank sheet of paper, analogous to spacetime without matter, is a "real" zero insofar as the continuous functions of classical physics are concerned. The warping caused by matter makes it possible for us to differentiate that nothing from the curvature that is something. What's fascinating is that we know by observation that the overall curvature is very nearly 1.0 -- like a sheet of paper with a single symbol on it. Very suitable for a T-shirt, no? :-)

Geometry, OTOH, is abstract. The point is dimensionless, just the case of a line of measure zero.


report post as inappropriate

Constantinos Ragazas wrote on Feb. 19, 2011 @ 19:21 GMT

I enjoyed reading your essay. Most was familiar to me from previous discussions we had in these blogs. But the style of writing was easy, smooth and clear. I liked it. Since we agree in many fundamental views (especially as it concerns cosmology) I hope your essay makes it to the 'finals' -- along with Peter's and Georgina's and Eckard's and many others that now seem to converge on the same 'view' of physical reality. Who knows. If a sizable number of essays in the final round play on the same central theme then our call for greater 'physical realism' may begin to be taken more seriously by the judges. I will definitely give you a good rating and hope you make it to the final round!

Recalling our discussions on cosmology. I have a curiosity and concern I like to share with you.

In my essay I show that Thermodynamics (The Fundamental Thermodynamic Relation as well as The Second Law) requires that physical time be 'duration', t-s, rather than 'instantiation', t=s. Thermodynamics as I argue asserts that 'every physical process (event) takes some duration of time to occur'. This, of course, fits well with my claim that 'there is accumulation before manifestation' of energy. My curiosity -- and physicist's concern -- is that Thermodynamics thus would seem to invalidate GR where 'events' in the Universe are given (x,y,z,t) coordinates in a spacetime continuum. Clearly, time so used in GR is 'instantiation' t=s, and not 'duration' t-s as I argue is required by Thermodynamics. And if GR violates Thermodynamics, wont then the Cosmology based on GR and deeply Thermodynamical, also be false?

This goes well with your notion of 'counting clicks' (instantiation) rather than 'counting the time between clicks' (duration).

Wishing you well,


report post as inappropriate

John Merryman replied on Feb. 20, 2011 @ 04:02 GMT

I think spacetime geometry is equivalent to epicycles, in that it is trying to give a physical explanation for how time goes from past to future, since that is the bedrock of rational thought. As opposed to the simple fact that we have the relationship inverted, much like it is actually the earth which is rotating and not that the sun actually moves. Remember that for their time, epicycles were extremely advanced math and laid the foundations for much of the cosmology and physics that came after, once the correct pivot was established and all the parts came together in a much more simplified whole.

Safe to say, for those who have spent their lives loading the old program, this just "does not compute."

Having been following the news out of the LHC, they have pushed many of the boundaries for super symmetry quite far and haven't found any of what they are looking for. Combine this with the likelihood that evidence for a galaxy to be discovered, further away than the universe is presumed to be old, within the next few years, considering the current oldest discovered one is 13.2 billion lightyears away and I suspect the physics world is going to have some major earth guakes rattling in in the coming decade. Who knows, by the time this contest is finished in June, some discoveries, or lack thereof, might be rattling the china.

report post as inappropriate

Chris Kennedy wrote on Feb. 19, 2011 @ 19:38 GMT

As usual - very thought provoking stuff!

report post as inappropriate

John Merryman replied on Feb. 20, 2011 @ 04:05 GMT

Thanks. Good to hear from you again. I haven't been reading too many of the entries, but am meaning to get to yours. I burn mental fuses reading too much of this sort of stuff.

report post as inappropriate

James Lee Hoover wrote on Feb. 22, 2011 @ 19:05 GMT

Great title, catchy and somewhat profound.

"The main reason why particles won out over waves is because there is no suitable

medium in which such quantum waves might propagate and this is a very valid concern."

I contend that models can only simulate reality.

Jim Hoover

report post as inappropriate

John Merryman wrote on Feb. 23, 2011 @ 18:12 GMT

Thanks. It is a bit scatterbrained, but I tried to cover a fairly broad range of ideas and bring them into some degree of focus in as few words as possible.

Here is another possible explanation for how light could be redshifted due to distance, courtesy of Israel Perez;

From Dan Benedict's footnotes, here is another large hole blown in Big Bang theory;

As with the many other problems with this belief system, if it can't be plastered over, it gets ignored.

report post as inappropriate

Joseph Markell wrote on Mar. 1, 2011 @ 04:46 GMT
Hello John:

I'm no horseman like you but have been around them a bit. Standing next to a scared horse is very scary and somewhat predictible, kicking and running etc. Figuring out the universe is much less predictible... but possibly someday, a divergent and thought provking essay like yours (or mine) might eventually aid understanding. It is great to have this essay contest available!

I enjoyed your essay. Good luck!

Joseph Markell

report post as inappropriate

John Merryman replied on Mar. 6, 2011 @ 03:21 GMT

Sorry to have not replied to this, but I thought I would read your essay first, yet still have not found the opportunity.

Horses actually are quite predictable, but like anything, it comes with lots of practice and a bit of pain.

Good luck.

report post as inappropriate

Eckard Blumschein wrote on Mar. 4, 2011 @ 08:59 GMT
Dear John,

I very much appreciate the title of your essay, your courage to address some holy but perhaps nonsensical flocks of cows and the current discussion that arose from this attitude.

It does not matter that I do not agree with you on all details. For instance, I am left-handed and familiar with a lot of details concerning the hemispheres of brain.

I just feel challenged to take issue because you wrote:

"We can't have free will if the present is dimensionless point between past and future, since we can't change the past or affect the future, but if it's the motion of the present turning potential into effect, our actions are part of the whole."

Of course, our actions and our free will are part of the whole. Nobody doubts that the past cannot be changed. However, why do you contradict e.g. Shannon? Why do you deny the possibility to affect the future? I see no logical alternative but to strictly separate in physics between past and future by means of a mathematical ideal, a point, something that does not have parts.

I consider at lest Georgina Parry and Albert Einstein people who are called presentists. They do not consider the present in the sense of an intangible demarcation between past and future but deliberately imprecise as for instance in expressions like today, this year, or in the time being.

The more I am dealing with the idol Einstein, the less I respect him. When I read his seminal 1905 paper on relativity, I could not understand many details because they were obviously incompletely stolen from Poincaré without any hint. Perhaps, the editor Max Planck did not see any problem because he was familiar with this stuff. Recently, a German minister of defense lost his job because his dissertation plagiarized work without giving all due references.

While my judgment on Poincaré's method of synchronization is not yet complete, the book "The Special Theory of Relativity" by David Bohm did not convince me. Has the question really settled?



report post as inappropriate

John Merryman replied on Mar. 4, 2011 @ 18:48 GMT

I agree mathematically separating past from future with the present as a point is a very effective and logical model of the relationship, but it's still a model. To the degree I see the effect of time as a consequence of motion, I feel that being able to understand the process creating this effect means peeling away those concepts to see the foundation from which they rise. Georgina is better at fleshing out the argument, but we seem to be in agreement on the principle that there is simply energy, in its various forms, moving about in space. Due to our particular physical situation of being both personally mobile and immersed in this field of motion, it does create a dichotomous effect of whether we are moving through it, or it is moving around us. We conflate the effect of change in the environment with our own motion through it. Therefore we consider the future as being in front of us and to which we are physically moving toward. In many respects, this forces us to focus on that point of contact our immediate consciousness perceives, with our context and thus reality is perceived as existing at this point of the present. As Georgina has pointed out, all the information consolidated in that point of perception travels different distances and for different durations, so it is an amalgam of motion. In this sense, the concept of four dimensional spacetime is actually a very useful model, but must be understood as a model of how information and energy interact.

As I keep pointing out, there can be no dimensionless point in time, as that would be like taking a picture with the shutter speed set at zero. Conversely, too long a shutter speed and everything is blurred together. Essentially our minds do function as just such a series of near instants, otherwise the world would be a blur.

So it's not as though I'm completely disagreeing with the various interpretations and understandings of time, but just trying to put them together as different perspectives of a larger reality. In that regard, I do focus on the two directions of time, etc, as a way to challenge convention.

As for Einstein, he has doing this work 100 years ago, at a time when monarchies still prevailed in Europe, the automobile, airplane, telephone, etc, were in their infancy and narrative structure had yet to meet deconstructionism. Yes, he does have many precedents and his hagiographers tend to edit these foundations, but that is life. It chews up the past in order to feed the future.

report post as inappropriate

Eckard Blumschein replied on Mar. 4, 2011 @ 23:48 GMT

Do you really deny the line because it is too small for your car to drive on it? After its shutter is closed, your camera does not get input anymore. I hope you and Georgina will distance yourself from Einstein's presentism. Is there really a mysterious somewhere hidden process that creates time or could we agree that we need the notion time as to describe all processes?

I do not consider "the future as being in front of us and to which we are physically moving toward". I rather consider two aspects of the notion future:

- something particular that we can steer to some extent but not predict for sure and

- in a more general sense an abstract order of all not yet observable features of and events within certainly ongoing processes.

I do not see "our immediate consciousness" perceiving something "as existing at this point of the present". I rather see our consciousness a quite normal spatially distributed process located in the past as are all processes in reality. The point now is as abstract as central point of earth.

You wrote: "In this sense, the concept of four dimensional spacetime is actually a very useful model, but must be understood as a model of how information and energy interact."

Here I strongly disagree. I did not take the effort to read Georgina's discussion after I realized that her arguments got diffuse. Can you please summarize what if any I should try to understand on a clean logical basis?

What about Poincaré and Lorentz, did you deal with the synchronization on which spacetime has been based?

While I guess, the dissertation by zu Guttenberg was not important, Einstein might have stolen something wrong with definitely serious consequences for the history of physics, not necessarily something valid for good.


report post as inappropriate

John Merryman replied on Mar. 5, 2011 @ 02:34 GMT

As I've said, I see time as an effect. We see evidence of things which occurred in the past, but as the energy radiates around, it moves from that event to our eyes and as our eyes are processing the information, it is of some prior event, but the occurrence of our perception is our existence. Now is as abstract as past and future.

"- something particular that we can steer to some extent but not predict for sure and

- in a more general sense an abstract order of all not yet observable features of and events within certainly ongoing processes."

I agree with both points. As I point out, the changing configuration of what is, turns potential into actual. Future possibilities merge into actual events.

The problem with the past to future arrow of time is that to the extent physical laws are fundamental, events which occur are those with the highest probability and thus effectively deterministic, but we don't know all potential input until the event occurs, since information can be arriving from opposite directions at the speed of light. So the total causes of any particular event are in the future until that event occurs and all probabilities are calculated by those fundamental laws of nature. The event then recedes into the past. In this sense, cause is in the future and effect is in the past.

In that sense, a big problem with physics is trying to incorporate the past to future arrow of time as a fundamental factor, rather than an emergent effect of motion. Projecting the deterministic past onto the probabilistic future leads to the concept of multi-worlds, as all probabilities exist as a function of the percentage of their occurring.

Pretty much the basis of human rationality is the result of past to future examination of cause and effect. So it is natural for us to consider it as fundamental, but this chronology is a function of examining prior occurrences and their subsequent effects, not a consideration of the physical processes in the act of occurring.

Time is different kettle of fish when we read about it in books and the linear series is known, then when it is occurring in our face and the possibilities are coming from all directions.

report post as inappropriate

Peter Jackson wrote on Mar. 4, 2011 @ 12:15 GMT

Good blog post, and excellent link from Israels refs. I also attach an up to the minute one Wilhelm has passed to me, and it's probably about time you followed that by looking at a recent preprint of mine ref a full paper in formal review.

Wills is a short review of another imminent publication;

y own is very fundamental and takes the discrete field (DFM) solution to CSL to some extraordinary logical conclusions. It's also consistent with your own views on the BB, and provides resolutions to a myriad of major issues, the smooth profile, the re-ionisation issue, the 'spiral' CMB assymmetry, etc etc etc.

It should not have been lost on you that while the redshift paper is quite brilliant, and fully consistent with the DFM (as is the other item above and all other latest data), they are all absolutely unequivocal in requiring an effective 'fluid medium' condensate of some sort (below condensed 'matter' - which cannot condense from nothing any more than it could in a big bang!).

Your arguments are generally excellent, but if you'll forgive me, and for positive reasons. I see two glaring weaknesses; One; the troglodytes will use and write you off with - the reversed tiem thing which is a perfectly reasonable way of looking at it but almost entirely semantic. .. And Two; the denial of any 'energy field' continuum (even though it's 2.7 degrees), which will neither let you in to the troglodyte society or endear you to the enlightened! (although I haven't heard you promoting that recently). With those two cleaned up a bit I think you have the basic concepts of a cast iron coherent theory.

Please read the enclosed and considering before responding. (It may prove a test of whether or not you can doing what you're asking the relativists running with blinkers to do, forget initial beliefs and go with the logic)!

Very best wishes


PS I'm waiting with interest for a response from Tom on his essay string.

report post as inappropriate

John Merryman replied on Mar. 4, 2011 @ 19:15 GMT

I find your ideas of moving fields quite interesting, but given my own serious limitations of time, education and intent, can't really give them the attention they deserve and so tend to leave such more focused observations to those with the abilities to address them.

I do understand the two directions of time is semantic on some levels, but it does does address some vexing issues on other levels. It could equally be argued that whether the sun moves across the sky, or the earth rotates on its axis is an equally semantic distinction. Both are true, but the delineation of the relationship had significant effects on how humanity understood its relationship with the universe. That it gets dismissed, I find amusing, to put it bluntly.

It's not that I'm denying the energy field continuum, as I do feel my concluding observations on light as a continuous medium requires it as implicit, but that I feel there is a deeper issue about the function of space which gets overlooked. I'm not saying it even has any physical effect of attraction or repulsion, as both are forms of energy acting on other forms of energy, but that its very non-existence sets parameters that have consequences. Rather than go over the various points, simply consider that the alternative to an infinite and absolute field is the singularity. In simple geometric terms, zero is posited as the centerpoint of the coordinate system rather than the blank space. So before simply dismissing space as an effect of measurement, consider the parameters intrinsic in any alternative.

I will read, I promise!!!

Pardon me, but I have many friend who are complete troglodytes. Some of whom I have to go work with shortly.

report post as inappropriate

Chris Kennedy wrote on Mar. 6, 2011 @ 19:22 GMT
John, I went back and did another read. Below is an interesting statement from your essay, but can you explain it a little further:

In fact, if light is an expanding radiant energy in an infinite universe, which could not further expand, it might also go toward explaining the effect ascribed to dark matter.Rather than some additional force of attraction within galaxies, it would be a source of external pressure on them. Given it is the rate at which the outer bands of these galaxies move that is in question, this external solution would be fitting.

Forgive me if you covered this in a previous post.

report post as inappropriate

John Merryman replied on Mar. 7, 2011 @ 05:12 GMT

If space "expands," but the universe is infinite and therefore cannot expand, as all areas maintain equal pressure on other areas and this expansion is balanced by the contraction of gravity, resulting in overall flat space which it appears to be, then not only is gravity pulling mass inward, but what would be causing space to expand, whether simply radiation from all galaxies within the billions of lightyears which light can travel, or vacuum fluctuation, would be external pressure on these systems.

The assumption is that this additional spin must be due to extra attraction within the galaxy, but why couldn't it be due to external pressure on the galaxy? Especially since the motion in question is primarily on the outer edges.

Obviously this would seem a negligible amount of pressure, but I think that the idea the entire universe is only 13.7 billion years old is like thinking the earth is only the biblical 6000 years old. Currently the oldest discovered galaxy is at 13.2 billion lightyears. Which means it would have to grow large enough to shine that far in only 500 million years. So I think the universe is infinitely old and these processes take much longer to develop momentum and size.

Also the gravity fields of galaxies extend much further out than the visible edges, so the combination of various forces, electromagnetic, gravitational and external pressure would combine to make what amount to the middle range, even though it is the edge of what is visible, spin at close to the same rate as the inner bands.

I agree it's one of my less clear points, but I thought I'd stick it in there anyway.

report post as inappropriate

John Merryman replied on Mar. 7, 2011 @ 11:32 GMT

Here are a couple of links. From Dan Benedict on a very large theoretical miss by Big Bang theory which is overlooked:

From Israel Perez on another possible explanation for redshift as a function of distance:


report post as inappropriate

John Merryman replied on Mar. 7, 2011 @ 11:56 GMT
That last site:




report post as inappropriate

Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Mar. 8, 2011 @ 01:07 GMT

I noticed that in a comment to John Gadway you said: "I first began studying physics in a search for objectivity, but find the field rife with many of the same conceptual and professional contradictions inherent in other fields."

Welcome to the real world.

You also said: "I think we are all waiting for the denouement, such as not discovering super-symmetric particles by the LHC, or the discovery of galaxies older than the presumed age of the universe, in order to have the space for new ideas to flourish."

As I've remarked to you elsewhere, my GEM theory has for five years predicted no Higgs and no SUSY (Super-Symmetry) and no other new particles.

The response to this from many has been "There has to be SUSY!"

But this morning my 3 Mar 2011 issue of NATURE said that over a year of searching at LHC has failed to find any evidence of super-particles (or the Higgs), and if SUSY is not found by the end of the year, the theory is in serious trouble (some already say that 'SUSY is dead'.)

Nature says "SUSY's utility and mathematical grace have instilled a "religious devotion" among its followers" some of whom have been working on the theory for thirty years.

The key statement in the article is this:

"This is a big political issue in our field. For some great physicists, it is the difference between getting a Nobel prize and admitting they spent their lives on the wrong track."

Explains a lot, doesn't it.

Edwin Eugene Klingman

report post as inappropriate

John Merryman replied on Mar. 8, 2011 @ 02:42 GMT

I've been keeping tabs on the LHC site and that article was linked through there. It will be interesting to see how this shakes out in the physics establishment.

report post as inappropriate

Eckard Blumschein replied on Mar. 8, 2011 @ 10:55 GMT
Dear Edwin,

You quoted: "This is a big political issue in our field. For some great physicists, it is the difference between getting a Nobel prize and admitting they spent their lives on the wrong track."

Didn't my essay 527 last year claim that these options might have overlapped?

So far, I suspected all those who attacked transfinite numbers and SR to be just cranks. I beg FQXi for pardon if I have to admit that discussions here opened my eyes.

I do not yet entirely agree with John Merryman, and his mathematical background might be limited. Nonetheless I acknowledge his honest and perhaps correct attitude and decided to rate his essay together with the discussion it sparks worth 10. If you aren't one of the two 8 voters, I would like to ask you for doing the same.



report post as inappropriate

John Merryman replied on Mar. 8, 2011 @ 17:45 GMT

Edwin and I have some philosophical agreements, but we disagree on the necessity of Big Bang cosmology. Since it is foundational to his physics and I'm trying to refute it in this particular essay, he can't really afford to grade me too highly.

That I'm doing as well as I am surprises even me. He would be rating me in the community rating and those are the public ratings that are numbered. If you push the community ratings link at the top of the essay list, it will organize them in order of current preference, but not give any scores.

I guess the fact I only have two high scores on the public rating means 1) few are reading it, or 2) They down quite know what to make of it sufficiently to score it.

report post as inappropriate

JOE AVERAGE wrote on Mar. 11, 2011 @ 15:06 GMT

1/3 F=MA+ 1/3 E=MC^2+ 1/3 E=MC^2= 1

report post as inappropriate

Chris Kennedy wrote on Mar. 12, 2011 @ 20:44 GMT

Thanks - I read the Disney article. I tried to open the Perez link but it is down. I will read the longer articles after I read a few more essays by the deadline. You know - I once wrote a crazy paper on Dark Energy that I sent to about a dozen physicists. In it (among other things) I asked: if the more distant galaxies are traveling faster than the nearer ones, but the light is older from the more distant galaxies, then doesn't that make a case for galaxies moving slower now than in the past and hint at deceleration???

Anyway - I hope you get a chance to read my essay before the deadline. I always look forward to your perspective.


report post as inappropriate

Constantinos Ragazas wrote on Mar. 13, 2011 @ 03:42 GMT

I just had to share this astonishing new result with you. Just posted on the web last night!

“If the speed of light is constant, then light is a wave”

Can I count on your support? I am currently at 38



report post as inappropriate

John Merryman replied on Mar. 13, 2011 @ 17:47 GMT

You have my support, but i can't vote twice.

report post as inappropriate

Paul Halpern wrote on Mar. 13, 2011 @ 03:44 GMT

Interesting essay. I enjoyed the analogies and descriptions, and your reflections about alternative explanations for dark energy, dark matter and the redshift of light.

Best wishes,


Paul Halpern, The Discreet Charm of the Discrete

report post as inappropriate

John Merryman replied on Mar. 14, 2011 @ 00:41 GMT

Thank you for reading my essay and viewing it favorably. I've read yours and am considering how to comment. Thomas Mcfarlane also proposed a digital view, but his approach was more of a philosophy of science view and I made a counter argument, but your approach is a concise, but very detailed history of the evolution of current theory, which makes it much more complicated to construct a coherent rebuttal, as my issues with current theory have much more to do with the primary assumptions, than the details of its construction.

report post as inappropriate

Paul Halpern replied on Mar. 15, 2011 @ 13:40 GMT

Although I have constructed my essay with the purpose of offering a possible solution to the vacuum energy problem, and to examine the implications of a minimal-wavelength field, I try very much to stay open-minded, especially since the scope of reality is so vast. I applaud your analysis of light and matter that looks at a variety of aspects, including how our brains perceive luminous input. I would certainly agree that light is wavelike as well as particle-like, well-established by the double-slit experiment, Compton effect, photoelectric effect, and so forth. In fact, my essay addresses a "smallest wavelength."

I enjoyed your detailed response on my page (and I have offered my own comments). It is great to have the opportunity to read essays such as yours and to be able to consider a variety of viewpoints.

All the best,


report post as inappropriate

John Merryman replied on Mar. 15, 2011 @ 16:51 GMT

Thank you for taking the time to reply and consideration of my somewhat undisciplined efforts.

report post as inappropriate

Sreenath B N wrote on Mar. 13, 2011 @ 12:02 GMT
Dear John Merryman,

You have very good knowledge of what is going on in the cosmos and your essay is exhilerating.You say that both digital and analog concepts are needed to comprehend reality and relating their origin to both parts of the brain.But how both parts of the brain,if they are seperate,coordinate to say that both digital and analog concepts are needed to comprehend reality unless the brain assimilates information from its both parts as one bit and thereby comprehends reality?

So for this I have a different kind of answer.Please,read my essay.

I enjoyed reading your essay.

best regards and good luck.

Sreenath B N.

report post as inappropriate

John Merryman replied on Mar. 15, 2011 @ 16:46 GMT

I'm going to try to get to your essay soon. Sorry I haven't replied earlier, but this contest is overwhelming the time I have to devote to it.

report post as inappropriate

Peter Jackson wrote on Mar. 14, 2011 @ 15:11 GMT

Hope you got to read my essay as promised. Just to confirm, you got the high rating from me your clear thinking and reality basis deserves, I hope you've done the same for me or will do as time's almost up! My thread's also very interesting, but now also very long!!

Any more questions, just ask away.

Best wishes, and best of luck


report post as inappropriate

John Merryman replied on Mar. 15, 2011 @ 00:09 GMT

I admit that given the large number of essays, I haven't read too closely those whom have been participating in the conversations, but on those who might have input I haven't heard before.

You do have my vote and congratulations on making the finalist list.

Good luck in the finals.

Have to admit, with the news lately, that what little computer time I have, has had many distractions.

report post as inappropriate

basudeba wrote on Mar. 20, 2011 @ 06:18 GMT
Sub: Possibility of manipulation in judging criteria – suggestions for improvement.


We had filed a complaint to FQXi and Scienticfic American regarding Possibility of manipulation in judging criteria and giving some suggestions for improvement. Acopy of our letter is enclosed for your kind information.

“We are a non-professional and non-academic entrant to the Essay...

view entire post

report post as inappropriate

Login or create account to post reply or comment.

Please enter your e-mail address:
Note: Joining the FQXi mailing list does not give you a login account or constitute membership in the organization.