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Sergey Fedosin: on 10/4/12 at 7:49am UTC, wrote If you do not understand why your rating dropped down. As I found ratings...

Vladimir Tamari: on 9/29/12 at 11:21am UTC, wrote Thanks Ulf, you may be right of course, and too-simple ideas may not be...

Steven B. Kaplan: on 9/28/12 at 20:20pm UTC, wrote Dear Prof. Klein, It is rather amusing to me that people, such as you and...

Alan Kadin: on 9/27/12 at 13:22pm UTC, wrote Prof. Klein: As one superconductivity specialist to another, I was...

Sergey Fedosin: on 9/26/12 at 16:22pm UTC, wrote Dear Ulf, I suppose it may be interesting for you to look to the model of...

Hoang Hai: on 9/26/12 at 6:37am UTC, wrote Dear Ulf Klein Very interesting to see your essay. Perhaps all of us are...

Juan Ramón González Álvarez: on 9/22/12 at 19:36pm UTC, wrote Dear Ulf Klein, I agree with you on that the Individuality Interpretation...

Benjamin Dribus: on 9/20/12 at 21:43pm UTC, wrote Dear Ulf, I enjoyed reading your essay and find myself in agreement with...


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August 14, 2022

CATEGORY: Questioning the Foundations Essay Contest (2012) [back]
TOPIC: Is the Individuality Interpretation of Quantum Theory Wrong? by Ulf Klein [refresh]
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Author Ulf Klein wrote on Aug. 1, 2012 @ 12:58 GMT
Essay Abstract

We analyze the question whether or not quantum theory should be used to describe single particles. Our fi nal result is that a rational basis for such an 'individuality interpretation' does not exist. A critical examination of three principles, supporting the individuality interpretation, leads to the result that no one of these principles seems to be realized in nature. The well-known controversy characterized by the names of Einstein (EPR), Bohr and Bell is analyzed. EPR proved 'predictive incompleteness' of quantum theory, which implies that no individuality interpretation exists. Contrary to the common opinion, Bell's proof of 'metaphysical completeness' does not invalidate EPR's proof because two crucially di fferent meanings of 'completeness' are involved. The failure to distinguish between these two meanings is closely related to a fundamentally deterministic world view, which dominated the thinking of the 19th century and determines our thinking even today.

Author Bio

Until 2005 I worked on various topics in the theory of superconductivity, including surface effects, vortex states, and paramagnetic pair-breaking effects. Since 2005 I became interested in foundational questions.During the following years I experienced a rather radical change in my own understanding of quantum theory.

Download Essay PDF File

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Aug. 2, 2012 @ 02:35 GMT
Dear Ulf Klein,

Congratulations on an exceptional essay. You beautifully state that the Copenhagen interpretation "shows several strange features, which have as a common origin the switching forth and back between reality and un-reality of properties as observation begins and ends."

You note that the cornerstones of Copenhagen are the interpretation the uncertainty principle that...

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Ulf Klein replied on Aug. 14, 2012 @ 12:21 GMT
Dear Eugene Klingman,

Thank you for your favorable comments. I am

particularly glad to read that you agree with

the logical analysis of the EPR, Bell complex,

which presents a central point of my essay.

Your essay "The Nature of the Wave Function"

contains several interesting and thought-provoking

assumptions. As far as the analogy between

gravitation and electromagnetism is concerned I

would like to draw your attention to a possibly

relevant paper, entitled "The statitistical origins

of gauge coupling and spin" which may be read


Best wishes

Ulf Klein

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John Merryman wrote on Aug. 2, 2012 @ 03:06 GMT

A very interesting and thought provoking entry. You might find Edward Gillis' paper compatible with your thinking. He provides a different perspective on the same issues.

My own essay focuses on a simple concept, that our perspective of time as a series of events, from past to future, which is re-enforced by treating it as a measurement, overlooks the basic physical reality of a dynamic presence, which collapses probabilities into actualities; The future becoming the past. One of the points which arises from this, is that since time is then simply an effect of motion, similar to temperature(statistical scalar), a dimensionless point in time would be an oxymoron. It would freeze the very motion creating it.(A temperature of absolute zero.) So a particle, micro or macro, cannot be isolated from its action/momentum. Thus, in a sense, the particle(s)/position and wave/momentum, cannot be separated.

Good luck in the contest.

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Ulf Klein replied on Aug. 14, 2012 @ 12:40 GMT
Dear John,

Thanks for the hint to Edward Gillis excellent essay. I agree there is considerably overlap with mine but his interpretation of EPR seems to differ from mine. I will reread this essay more carefully.

I found your essay very interesting. A comment on the role of time in the statistical interpretation of quantum theory (which I prefer): According to the latter time loses its meaning as far as individual microscopic particles are concerned. The reason is indeterminism with regard to individual events.

This fact implies a contradiction between special relativity and quantum theory which has been mentioned very early in a paper by Schroedinger (dont ask me the reference, would take me a lot of time) but is hardly discussed today because people belive (in my opinion erroneously) that quantum theory is a theory about individual particles. The usual meaning of time is recovered for statistical ensembles or macroscopic bodies.

Best wishes


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Lawrence B. Crowell wrote on Aug. 2, 2012 @ 23:46 GMT
There has been a growing debate over whether quantum states are ontological or not. The negation of the individuality of a quantum state amounts to assigning an ensemble of ontic states; each state corresponds to a probability outcome. We may of course perform a quantum transformation (unitary rotation) of the basis so that different pure states of the model have overlapping distributions over ontic states. This touches on the issue of contextualityThis amounts to equating ontic states with the particular eigenstates a pure state is expanded according to. The unitary structure of the Hilbert space is such that this expansion is something chosen by the analyst, and the experimenter orients their apparatus to measure eigenvalues corresponding to this expansion. The quantum transformation, unitary transformation, mentioned is a rotation in the Hilbert space which will influence to defined ontic states or a distribution over them. This makes claims of wave function ontology problematic

I think that Willard Quine made an interesting thesis with the concept of ontological relativity. While particle ontology can't be assigned to a wave function, contrary to the Bohm interpretation, the wave function as an epistemological entity does give rise to physically ontic states under a measurement. So we might think of quantum physics as having two realizations. The first is |epistemic> + ε |ontic>, for ε an infinitesimal number, which describes dynamics of a pure quantum state with the limit ε --- > 0. Under a measurement the state is reduced to one of the so called ontic states so that ε |epistemic> + |ontic> describes the physics. If we think of this as two linearly independent vector directions, with epistemic along the imaginary axis this amounts to an abrupt rotation R(εt) given by -i = e^{-i π/2}in the limit ε -- >0. This process occurs in a very short period of time εt 0}R(εt)(|epistemic> + ε|ontic>)/εt

which is not analytically tractable in any trivial manner. This does in this quasi-mathy way illustrate the prospect for something similar to Quine's ontological relativity.

I am not sure that Bell’s theorem pertains only to m-completeness. I will have to think about this some, but the violation of the inequalities pertains to expectations of measurements. As such I think this is a physical statement.

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Ulf Klein replied on Aug. 14, 2012 @ 12:45 GMT
Thank you for your comments. A clarification: the term 'metaphysical completeness' (m-completeness) should not be misunderstood as describing something unphysical. It refers to the way this property can be verified. To study M-completeness of a (p-incomplete) theory requires investigation not only of the theory, whose m-completeness is under discussion, but of an infinite number of other theories (in order to find out if the statement "no better theory exists" is true). The 'infinite number' was my reason to invent the term 'metaphysical'.

Example: Bell's theory is based on certain assumptions. It belongs to the set of theories to be studied. An infinite number of other theories based on different assumptions, belong also to this set. M-completeness can only be tentatively true.

In contrast, to test p-completeness of a theory only the theory, whose p-completeness is under discussion, has to be considered.

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Aug. 3, 2012 @ 01:14 GMT
Hello Ulf,

At the urging of Edwin Eugene, I downloaded and glanced at your essay, which already looks very interesting. Anticipating I'd be making similar comments to at least a few authors, because of common threads in several essays, I have begun to write a brief paper talking about a conceptual model for decoherence I've developed in past works and I attach a draft thereof.

I shall have specific comments about your paper and an update of this work before long. Perhaps by then, my essay submission will post.



attachments: 1_DecoherenceReviewDraft.pdf

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Wilhelmus de Wilde de Wilde replied on Aug. 13, 2012 @ 16:04 GMT
Dear Jonathan, Thanks for your explanation of decoherence. Zeh is also an example to me, but I found another way to explain decoherence in my essay : "The Consciousness Connection". I should aprreciate your reaction.Wilhelmus

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Jason Mark Wolfe wrote on Aug. 5, 2012 @ 01:53 GMT
Is it possible that quantum states are just "free will" from another point of view? In other words, something about the quantum system is able to choose an available eigenstate, but quantum physicists cannot predict exactly which one because the quantum system has free will. The quantum system will pick the eigenstate that it feels like picking. To an experimentalist, it looks like a random detection.

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Ulf Klein replied on Aug. 14, 2012 @ 12:54 GMT
It is possible (and has been done) to interpret quantum states this way. The question is, of course, which basic assumptions one considers as most appropriate. My own assumption is to make only a minimal number of basic assumptions (Occam's razor).

If, on the other hand, quantum states are considered as "free will", the conventional borders of physics - as a theory describing inanimate nature - are exceeded and a number of rather complex - and untestable- assumptions are implicitly introduced. The distinction between physics and philosophy is lost in such interpretations and I do not see the necessity for such an extreme step.

On the other hand, to speculate e.g. about the connection between microscopic indeterminism and 'free will' is a fascinating and legitimate philosophical question.

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Eric Stanley Reiter wrote on Aug. 5, 2012 @ 09:39 GMT

I did not understand much of your essay, but this part I do understand, and I strongly disagree. The wave pattern emerging from one-at-a-time forces the idea of a wave across space. So a transformation to the particle-like event must happen at the detector:

"Recent experiments by Tonomura [31] and others have shown that single particles are always particles and never waves. A video on the Hitachi website [30] shows the development of a double-slit interference pattern as a consequence of an increasing number of electrons arriving at the screen. As pointed out by Silverman in his discussion of the Tonomura experiment [29]: "The manifestations of wave-like behavior are statistical in nature and always emerge from the collective outcome of many electron events" Thus, no mysterious transformation between particles and waves is required. The origin of the miraculous 'particle-wave duality' is poor resolution of early experimental data."

How you can say that is beyond me. The Tonomura experiment shows there must be waves. Particle models fail without the wave.

My experiments that show two detections for one emission shows that a particle is not going across space, and it must be a wave. There is no particle transmitted in space through the slits, and the particle-like effect is due to a loading at the detector. My evidence in the essay contest is at odds with your theory. There may be parts of your theory that are consistent with my evidence. See essay:

A Challenge to Quantized Absorption by Experiment and Theory

Also, please show me the source of this link I found on a google search for "fqxi essay"?:

"Is the Individuality Interpretation of Quantum Theory Wrong? by ...I believe that this FQXi contest is producing some important essays, and yours is one of the very best. Edwin Eugene Klingman view post as"

Thank you, Eric Reiter

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Ulf Klein replied on Aug. 14, 2012 @ 13:01 GMT
Dear Eric,

Thank you for your critical remarks. I hope my following answer will convince you.

In the Tonomura experiment electrons are sent out individually, with arbitrary long time intervalls in between. After passing the double slit they arrive at the screen as shown by the creation of a localized spot. (The exact position of any one of this spots cannot be predicted by quantum mechanics). This localized spot has nothing to do with a wave and this is why I (and others) say that a single electron is always a particle and never a wave. Other experiments with other elementary particles lead to the same conclusion.

Wave like phenomena develop as a collective effect of many electrons, as a superposition of many spots (in contrast to the position of the single electrons, the shape of the interference pattern can be predicted by quantum theory). In this sense, wave-like phenomena can be associated with an ensemble of identically prepared particles but not with the individual particles.

Please note that I do not deny the presence of wave-like phenomena. Our disagreement may be (partly) due to the fact that my distinction between particle and wave concepts is guided by experiment.

I am not sure if I understand the question correctly but your last paragraph describes obviosly a part of a comment by E.E. Klingman on the essay we are talking about.


Ulf Klein

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Eric Stanley Reiter replied on Aug. 16, 2012 @ 01:34 GMT
OMG. I heard your kind of argument many times, and I am guided by experiment just as much as you are. The clicks & spots are easily explained by thresholds from wave loading. This is a very old argument we are having. This idea that a click happened, or a spot, is what had many fooled to say it must be particles for a very long time. The fact that a wave pattern forms shows we are NOT dealing with particles going across space. The wave property leads to the interference pattern in one-at-a-time experiments, and there is no way to make that happen with particles going across space. Many have tried to make it work with particles, but their arguments fall short. The resolution to our very old argument is in my new experiments. Actually they have been shown, but in relative obscurity since 2003. The new experiments show that a loading must be happening, and draws a distinction between the loading theory and QM.

Please read my work before your next attempt to "convince" me.

Thank you. Eric Reiter

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Ulf Klein replied on Aug. 16, 2012 @ 09:45 GMT
I am using quantum theory and not your 'loading theory' to interpret the Tonomura experiments. Threshold effects have not been taken into consideration as an explanation by Tonomura.

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Jayakar Johnson Joseph wrote on Aug. 5, 2012 @ 17:12 GMT
Dear Ulf Klein,

I think, incompleteness of ‘individuality interpretation’ in accordance with the Schrödinger equation on single non-relativistic particle, is by the indeterminate point like nature of particle.

With best wishes


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Ulf Klein replied on Aug. 14, 2012 @ 14:47 GMT
Dear Jayakar,

Thank you for your comment. Could you please explain in more detail what you mean by "the indeterminate point like nature" ?

Best wishes


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Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on Aug. 8, 2012 @ 05:31 GMT
Dear Ulf,

Reading through your essay I am impressed once again by the earnestness dedication and ingenuity of of researches like you to come to terms with what is going on in QM. Old interpretations that have become dogma and newer concepts are juggled to make sense of what is analyzed theoretically and observed experimentally. Despite your obvious stamina and the clarity with which you dissect the claims and counter-claims of CI, EPR, Bell, the UP and so forth, the best you come up with is again asserting the probabilistic statistical nature of events at the smallest scales. I see that in his above post Eric Reiter has ably countered the common interpretation of the double slit experiment of electron interference, a view I fully share and have come independently upon albeit in a qualitative way.

I was interested in your statement "Astonishingly, the practical basis for the IUP seems to be still Heisenberg's famous light-microscope Gedanken experiment - despite the fact that it says nothing about the simultaneous measurement of position and momentum." But in a way it does! In in my studies of diffraction I showed how the diffracted streamlines for example in the focused image of a microscope, carry momentum across the field in various well-defined directions at any given point. Diffraction (or more correctly diffusion in an ether lattice) is the basis of uncertainty.

My view is that the assumed probabilistic interpretation is the natural outcome of causal, linear, local energy transfer at the smallest scale of a supposed ether lattice of ordered energy nodes rotating at angular momentum in units of h. To see how this may come about please refer to section 2.7 of my Beautiful Universe Theory .

I would be grateful if you would momentarily suspend your disbelief, and try to understand what I have so briefly and sketchily presented as a new starting point and judge whether it makes some sort of sense.

My alternate views of the origins of QM probability (and much else!) are reflected in my fqxi essay Fix Physics! .

Taking a hint from your being at Linz I will now clear my brain by listening to Mozart's Linz symphony No. 36.

Best wishes, Vladimir

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Ulf Klein replied on Aug. 14, 2012 @ 14:50 GMT
Dear Vladimir,

Thank you for your comments. I read your essay which touches a large number of open problems and contains several curageous ideas.

I would like to comment only on a single fundamental point. After some thought about all that I abandoned the idea that the whole of phyics can be reconstructed from a single fundamental, universal theory (principle of reductionisms). My present point of view is similar to the one described by R.B. Laughlin in his book "A different universe".

Best wishes


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Member Benjamin F. Dribus wrote on Sep. 20, 2012 @ 21:43 GMT
Dear Ulf,

I enjoyed reading your essay and find myself in agreement with your conclusions.

Perhaps an interesting viewpoint on this (and one that arrives at the same conclusion in a slightly differen setting) is to consider Feynman's sum-over-histories method in light of general relativity. As you know, Feynman re-derived standard nonrelativistic quantum theory by considering particle trajectories in Euclidean spacetime, with probability amplitudes determined by the classical action. However, GR teaches us that spacetime interacts dynamically with matter-energy, so different particle trajectories represent different spacetimes, however minute the differences may be. Whether one wishes to view this in a "many-worlds" context or simply as a way of talking about the superposition principle, the individuality interpretation is out the window. Even the most humble "particle trajectory" changes the background.

Of course, I understand that you are arguing the case that the individuality interpretation is untenable even in nonrelativistic QM, and I also think this is true. However, throwing in relativity dooms this interpretation even further. Take care,

Ben Dribus

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Juan Ramón González Álvarez wrote on Sep. 22, 2012 @ 19:36 GMT
Dear Ulf Klein,

I agree with you on that the Individuality Interpretation of Quantum Theory is Wrong and that Einstein has finally won the debate over Bohr.

In the section 3 of my essay I propose a generalization of the Schrödinger equation of motion for a stochastic state vector |\Psi>. It can be shown that if we split this stochastic vector into an average vector |\psi> plus...

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Hoang cao Hai wrote on Sep. 26, 2012 @ 06:37 GMT
Dear Ulf Klein

Very interesting to see your essay.

Perhaps all of us are convinced that: the choice of yourself is right!That of course is reasonable.

So may be we should work together to let's the consider clearly defined for the basis foundations theoretical as the most challenging with intellectual of all of us.

Why we do not try to start with a real challenge is very close and are the focus of interest of the human science: it is a matter of mass and grain Higg boson of the standard model.

Knowledge and belief reasoning of you will to express an opinion on this matter:

You have think that: the Mass is the expression of the impact force to material (definition from the ABSOLUTE theory of me) - so no impact force, we do not feel the Higg boson - similar to the case of no weight outside the Earth's atmosphere.

Does there need to be a particle with mass for everything have volume? If so, then why the mass of everything change when moving from the Earth to the Moon? Higg boson is lighter by the Moon's gravity is weaker than of Earth?

The LHC particle accelerator used to "Smashed" until "Ejected" Higg boson, but why only when the "Smashed" can see it,and when off then not see it ?

Can be "locked" Higg particles? so when "released" if we do not force to it by any the Force, how to know that it is "out" or not?

You are should be boldly to give a definition of weight that you think is right for us to enjoy, or oppose my opinion.

Because in the process of research, the value of "failure" or "success" is the similar with science. The purpose of a correct theory be must is without any a wrong point ?

Glad to see from you comments soon,because still have too many of the same problems.

Kind Regards !


August 23, 2012 - 11:51 GMT on this essay contest.

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Sergey G Fedosin wrote on Sep. 26, 2012 @ 16:22 GMT
Dear Ulf,

I suppose it may be interesting for you to look to the model of electron in the book: The physical theories and infinite nesting of matter.

Sergey Fedosin

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Alan Kadin wrote on Sep. 27, 2012 @ 13:22 GMT
Prof. Klein:

As one superconductivity specialist to another, I was interested in reading your FQXi essay, and subsequently viewing your website But while you make some excellent points, I feel that a purely statistical interpretation means giving up on the heart of physics: real objects undergoing real dynamics in real spacetime. I would suggest, contrary to established wisdom, that a radical reinterpretation of QM can preserve local reality. Please see and references therein. I am proposing that QM is properly not a universal theory of matter, but rather a mechanism to confine continuous primary fields in discrete bundles that then behave as classical particles. This concept is analogous to the spontaneous formation of ferromagnetic domains, which act as macroparticles but are composed of interacting microscopic spins. This further requires that composites such as nucleons and atoms are not quantum waves. Neither are electron pairs, requiring a reinterpretation of BCS in terms of single particle interactions. This reinterpretation is based in part on Fröhlich's early analysis of charge-density waves, and does indeed reproduce BCS including h/2e, without pairing. I would be interested in your analysis of these proposals.

Alan M. Kadin, Ph.D.

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Steven B. Kaplan wrote on Sep. 28, 2012 @ 20:20 GMT
Dear Prof. Klein,

It is rather amusing to me that people, such as you and I, who have been so involved with superconductivity, have become interested in similar aspects of quantum theory. The theoretical calculations I did early in my career led in my later life to a questioning of what exactly the wave function represents.

I thoroughly enjoyed your essay, especially the examination of what the EPR paper sought to accomplish, and what Bell's later work added to these constructs.

However, my mesoscopic experiments involving electron waves in small structures leads to an understanding of the electron as a physical wave filling the space it inhabits. The idea of a simultaneous point particle and an associated wave is not necessary.

I don't think of neutrons and protons the same way -- the associated small bag of quarks is really confined to a small region. Multi-neutron scattering events for, say, crystallography can be described by a flux of confined (read that PARTICLE) states impinging on a crystal lattice, which responds with its characteristic phonon modes, leading to the the emitted neutron pattern. Within the neutron, however, the elementary quark states are again true quantum waves.

Therefore, I suggest that a statistical description of fundamental particle waves are physical waves (with quantized spin and charge) that naturally lead to the measurable quantities we observe.

My views are in line with Dr. Kadin' essay He is trying to build QM from first principles, making sure all the assumptions handed to us as grad students are valid before proceeding with the next step.

I would be interested in how you believe the Pauli exclusion principle arises from fermionic wave functions. I have not yet seen a discussion of how it can naturally arise from the self-energy or any self-consistency principles.

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Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on Sep. 29, 2012 @ 11:21 GMT
Thanks Ulf, you may be right of course, and too-simple ideas may not be able to reconstruct physics.


Hello. This is group message to you and the writers of some 80 contest essays that I have already read, rated and probably commented on.

This year I feel proud that the following old and new online friends have accepted my suggestion that they submit their ideas to this contest. Please feel free to read, comment on and rate these essays (including mine) if you have not already done so, thanks:

Why We Still Don't Have Quantum Nucleodynamics by Norman D. Cook a summary of his Springer book on the subject.

A Challenge to Quantized Absorption by Experiment and Theory by Eric Stanley Reiter Very important experiments based on Planck's loading theory, proving that Einstein's idea that the photon is a particle is wrong.

An Artist's Modest Proposal by Kenneth Snelson The world-famous inventor of Tensegrity applies his ideas of structure to de Broglie's atom.

Notes on Relativity by Edward Hoerdt Questioning how the Michelson-Morely experiment is analyzed in the context of Special Relativity

Vladimir Tamari's essay Fix Physics! Is Physics like a badly-designed building? A humorous illustrate take. Plus: Seven foundational questions suggest a new beginning.

Thank you and good luck.


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Sergey G Fedosin wrote on Oct. 4, 2012 @ 07:49 GMT
If you do not understand why your rating dropped down. As I found ratings in the contest are calculated in the next way. Suppose your rating is
was the quantity of people which gave you ratings. Then you have
of points. After it anyone give you
of points so you have
of points and
is the common quantity of the people which gave you ratings. At the same time you will have
of points. From here, if you want to be R2 > R1 there must be:
In other words if you want to increase rating of anyone you must give him more points
then the participant`s rating
was at the moment you rated him. From here it is seen that in the contest are special rules for ratings. And from here there are misunderstanding of some participants what is happened with their ratings. Moreover since community ratings are hided some participants do not sure how increase ratings of others and gives them maximum 10 points. But in the case the scale from 1 to 10 of points do not work, and some essays are overestimated and some essays are drop down. In my opinion it is a bad problem with this Contest rating process. I hope the FQXI community will change the rating process.

Sergey Fedosin

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