Contests Home

Current Essay Contest

Contest Partners: Fetzer Franklin Fund, and The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation

Previous Contests

Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability Essay Contest
December 24, 2019 - April 24, 2020
Contest Partners: Fetzer Franklin Fund, and The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation

What Is “Fundamental”
October 28, 2017 to January 22, 2018
Sponsored by the Fetzer Franklin Fund and The Peter & Patricia Gruber Foundation

Wandering Towards a Goal
How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intention?
December 2, 2016 to March 3, 2017
Contest Partner: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Fund.

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

October 7, 2022

Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability Essay Contest
December 24, 2019 - April 24, 2020

Additional Essay Contest Information

Frequently Asked Questions

Does FQXi have a preferred philosophical or scientific agenda?
No. We are equally interested in all relevant and interesting essays within the FQXi purview.

Can researchers from outside the U.S. apply?
Yes, entries will be welcomed from any country. However, they must be written in English.

My colleague(s) and I would like to apply as co-authors. Can we do this?
Yes. In such cases, any prize money would be equally split among the authors. Note that you can be author or co-author of at most one entry.

Can I submit multiple essays?
No, only one entry per person per Contest is permitted.

How and when do I apply?
Entries will be accepted from December 24, 2019, and March 16, 2020 (until 11:59 PM Eastern Time). When you enter is up to you, but keep in mind that earlier entries will enable more time for public reading and discussion, and also establish priority in print for novel ideas. On the other hand, later entries provide more time to write and allow authors to adjust their essays in response to earlier ones.

What if I am unable to submit my essay electronically?
Only entries submitted through the form on our website are accepted. If you encounter problems, please contact FQXi.

Can I save my online application?
No, you can not save the online application. We suggest that you collect all your information on a document and then cut and paste your information on to the FQXi form. This will ensure that you have a copy in case you need to resubmit for any reason.

I didn't receive a confirmation email after submitting my essay. Did FQXi receive my entry?
If you don't receive an email immediately after submitting your essay, please check your spam filter. If it's not there, then please contact FQXi.

I submitted an essay application and received a confirmation email, but my essay wasn't posted. What happened?
Immediately after an essay application is submitted, the applicant will receive a confirmation email containing their essay and contact information at their specified email address. However, the essay will not be published immediately; it will be reviewed for rule compliance first. Once the essay is approved, it will be posted automatically. Please wait 10 business days for this to happen before contacting FQXi. If 10 business days have passed since you received your confirmation email and your essay is still not posted, please contact FQXi, with your inquiry.

If you are among the first to submit your essay, please note that we will not post any until there are 5-10 essays submitted.

How will proposals be judged?
The proposals will be judged according to the criteria listed in Section II, following the procedure described in Section III of the Contest rules (see the main Essay Contest page).

Can you give me any guidance on my essay?
No— the Essay Contest rules above will be the sole material provided to entrants, and the basis upon which essays will be judged.

Can I also post my essay elsewhere on the internet, like the Arxiv or a personal blog?
No problem. But we do ask that you don't submit it to a journal, or otherwise publish the essay until after the Contest is completed, and if the essay wins a prize, only after consultation with FQXi.

What prizes will be awarded?
Up to US$40,000 will be awarded in this Essay Contest, following the list given in Section III of the Contest rules. The awards will be announced and distributed per the procedure described in Section IV of the Contest rules, on the basis of the criteria elaborated in Section II. In addition, all First and Second Prize Winners will receive a nomination for FQXi Membership, if the applicant is not already a Member. (Please note that Member nomination does not guarantee Membership; all nominees will be reviewed.)

What are the qualifications for a Contest entrant?
There are no formal qualifications; however, we do ask for rigorous and well thought out entries and reserve the right to decline entry of essays not satisfying minimal criteria of relevance and/or quality. Additionally, each applicant must provide a brief biography with their entry. Judges, as well as Public and Community evaluators, are free to consider or ignore this information.

Judges, personnel of Foundational Questions Institute (including subcontractors), Fetzer Franklin Fund, and The Gruber Foundation, and members of families of the same, are ineligible to win Prizes.

FQXi reserves the right to refuse to award any Prize if doing so violates any applicable laws.

Can entrants cheat or "game" the voting system?
FQXi expects community evaluators to vote based solely on the quality of the essay. Voting collusion or bartering, mass down-voting, and other such forms of "voter fraud" will not be tolerated, and participants in such will have (all) their votes discarded or in extreme cases their essays disqualified. Entrants should alert FQXi with information if they witness any of these activities.

Entrants are also not allowed to solicit votes through mass forum commenting or emailing (i.e. spamming other contestants). FQXi views such behavior as a form of attempted voting collusion or bartering. This is true even if the message simply asks for a “fair vote” and does not explicitly promise return voting. Repetitive, cut-and-paste comments that do not attempt to engage the content of their forum will be marked as spam and deleted.

As a rule, all forum commenting should follow FQXi’s forum guidelines for appropriate content. Please contact FQXi if you are unsure about the content of a post you are planning or that you find in the forums.

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Important Dates

December 24, 2019
Essay Contest launched!

April 24, 2020*
Essay Contest closes - Last opportunity to submit essays (Note: all essays must be submitted by 11:59PM Eastern Time).

May 18, 2020*
Voting closes - Last opportunity to submit public and community ratings (Note: all ratings must be submitted by 11:59PM Eastern Time).

July 31, 2020*
Essay Contest Winners posted around this date.

*Deadlines were extended on March 11, 2020.

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