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CATEGORY: Questioning the Foundations Essay Contest (2012) [back]
TOPIC: Cherished Assumptions and the Progress of Physics by Jonathan J. Dickau [refresh]
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Author Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Aug. 6, 2012 @ 15:50 GMT
Essay Abstract

For Physics to progress or advance, cherished assumptions about reality and the universe must give way to new notions that allow a better understanding. Ideas from sciences of the past seem quaint or misguided to modern scientists, and today’s Science will undoubtedly be seen to contain untruths or half-truths by folks in the future. However; we cannot know which assumptions are erroneous, without sufficient time for exploration and comparison. Scientists learn more by devising experiments that – if performed with care and precision – will reveal which assumptions are wrong. Unfortunately assumptions are hidden by nature, as when we assume ideas are true we take their reality for granted; we believe in them. Beliefs must be carefully separated from what we learn through observation or test by experiment. In Cosmology, there is an additional challenge as scientists cannot experiment with or observe some of the cosmos’ wonders up close, and must be content with observation at a distance. Thus; a number of explanations aptly fit the same evidence. Perhaps we need to be more playful with our assumptions. There will always be frontiers in Physics, horizons we cannot reach and must speculate about instead. It is best, therefore, to be aware that any of our cherished assumptions could be wrong, and to remember the assumptions we do not know we have made might be an even greater problem.

Author Bio

Jonathan lives in upstate New York and spends a lot of his time thinking, while caring for his aging parents and trying to run a multimedia business. He has written and lectured on a wide variety of topics including Physics and Math, Cognition and Learning, and Science Education. Jonathan has presented at a number of international Physics conferences, and is on the editorial board of Prespacetime Journal.

Download Essay PDF File

Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Aug. 6, 2012 @ 21:50 GMT
Dear Jonathan Dickau,

It's good to finally read your excellent essay! You make so many relevant points, but one of the most succinct and yet most important is that about dealing with linear approximations to non-linear equations. Your specific example:

"[FLRW] did something remarkable by allowing Einstein's Field Equations to be soluble, as they would otherwise be intractable. But if a homogeneous and isotropic a simplifying assumption they made to do it, it is fallacious to also see it as a prediction of the theory."

As I remark elsewhere, the C-field I focus on interacts with mass and hence with the mass-equivalent of its own energy, hence it is inherently non-linear, and the weak field equations are an approximation. In this regard you say, "Many exciting and paradoxical things are observed when we expand our purview to include non-linear behavior of systems. " Amen.

You also note that often "a number of explanations fit the same evidence." In cosmology this is probably inevitable, given the experimental realities, but in well studied data-intensive fields like nuclear physics Norman Cook probably says it best:

"In the context of nuclear structure theory, the various nuclear models can account separately for different data sets, but the necessity of jumping from one model to another is jarring for anyone who values coherency... and makes me think there are different understandings of what "understanding" means."

In other words, a number of inequivalent explanations is almost proof that we *don't* understand reality.

Even a first reading of your essay is rich in concepts. I may come back with a later comment on the octionic nature of the early universe and evolution of dimensionality, but let me now simply thank you for introducing the idea of entropy as as a 'spread of energy' and providing links to Lambert and Leff.

Finally, your repeated exhortation to "be more playful" reminds me of our friend Ray's trademark close:

Have fun,

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Steve Dufourny replied on Aug. 6, 2012 @ 22:04 GMT
hello Edwin and Jonathan,

Happy to see your essay Jonathan.

have fun indeed Edwin like said a friend.

Edwin and Jonathan, you know a little the p-adic numbers? I d like to learn more. Could you tell me more please ?


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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Aug. 6, 2012 @ 22:06 GMT
Thanks very much!

It looks like I managed to get my 'finger on the pulse' of a lot of interesting and exciting work in progress, some of which other authors have featured heavily. I find it amazing to note the degree of cross-fertilization this year's essays and authors enable. I followed my muse and my gut, but I think I picked good places to press my advantage and also chose well when to be circumspect. But my essay ties in so wonderfully well with several other author's work, it almost seems like a team effort to prove or bracket some points.

I playfully echo your choice of Ray's closing.

Have Fun!


Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Aug. 6, 2012 @ 22:30 GMT
Thanks also Steve!

Your entry snuck in while I was penning a reply to E.E., but your thoughts and greetings are welcome too. I know a little, but I think the real expert on p-adic numbers is Matti Pitkanen, and that he likes to expound on the subject.

I hope you are well, and appreciate your comment.


Author Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Aug. 6, 2012 @ 21:54 GMT
Greetings Folks,

It is my privilege to again be among the contestants in this prestigious Physics essay contest. I will attempt to answer all honest questions and concerns about the content of my essay, and regarding the broader topics it touches on. I will also attempt to read as many of the other essays as I can, and to leave appropriate comments whenever I have something cogent to say.

This year's contest is shaping up to be a very interesting event, and I applaud all of the excellent submissions I have seen from other authors. I am impressed with several entries, and pleased to be part of this elite group of authors. I think perhaps I had a head start, as the topic chosen was a variation of one of my suggestions for last year's contest, but in my essay you will find out why I made that suggestion. I assure you it is an interesting story!

My only regret is that friend and colleague Ray B. Munroe can't participate in this year's contest. But I am glad I got to collaborate with him before his passing. I wish all the other authors good luck, and good conversation on each author's forum.

All the Best,


John Merryman replied on Aug. 7, 2012 @ 03:09 GMT
Sorry to hear about Ray. He added a lot.

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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Aug. 7, 2012 @ 03:25 GMT
Yes John,

He sure did! I will miss Ray and his cheerful commentary. But at least I continue the threads we started a bit, in my essay.

All the Best,


Steve Dufourny wrote on Aug. 6, 2012 @ 22:09 GMT
ps to all, have you seen this robot on Mars. It is a wonderful new.We know that 3 to 4 billions years ago, water was on mars.If it existed water, so the life is rational considering the adatation of H CNO ....CH4 NH3 H2O H2C2 HCN....

It is fascinating, I will be happy to have datas about minerals,bacterias or this or that. They have alot of chance those people from Nasa. I am persuaded that a lot of discoveries shall be very relevant.Good luck to them.and still congratulations for this success.

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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Aug. 6, 2012 @ 22:32 GMT
Yes Steve, but thanks;

I congratulate the NASA folks for a successful beginning to the Mars probe's explorations.

all the best,


John Merryman wrote on Aug. 7, 2012 @ 03:20 GMT

Just started your essay, but it's late, so I'm stopping with a prediction on this comment;

" While we await more advanced detectors which will reveal the gravitational wave spectrum in greater detail."

I think we will eventually understand that gravity waves are all around us. It's called 'light." The energy released as mass condenses. M=e/c2.

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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Aug. 7, 2012 @ 03:28 GMT
Thanks for that, John;

Happy you are reading it. Glad to answer any questions you have.

More later,


Eckard Blumschein wrote on Aug. 7, 2012 @ 06:01 GMT
Dear Jonathan,

I appreciate your emphasis on the topic of this contest; which basic assumptions are wrong?

Let me stress your certainly correct conjecture; no two two things (in reality) are completely separated, no system is isolated.

What you expressed with the words playful and child, I called pre-mathematical. In that our views seem to be in very good agreement too.

You are in the comfortable position advocating nice ideas like emergent dimensionality and fractal large-scale structure. I have to admit tending to question what some mathematicians of the 19th century decided. Could you please explain to me what you meant with Möbius-like? Of course, you did not refer to the syndrome but to the well known strip. I see any coherent strip in reality a 3D object which has exactly two surfaces, an inner and an outer one.

The ideal complex plane has also two faces. Complex calculus is based on ignoring one of them. I wonder why this has obviously bee forgotten.

I sincerely hope your essay will be heard and make a difference. Wishing good luck I do not intend expressing doubts.



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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Aug. 7, 2012 @ 15:33 GMT
Thanks very much, Eckard;

They are studying numeracy in early childhood now. It seems we have in innate sense of more or fewer, but need to learn the distinction between none and one of something, in order to learn how to count. If we don't get in the way of the process, children learn some very cool stuff by playing. But it's too easy to get them fixated on finding the one right answer, by playing role model too often, rather than encouraging exploration.

As to the Möbius-like nature of the 3-sphere, my understanding is this. The non-trivial twist in the Hopf fibration of S3 means that one can find trajectories that allow a smooth or continuous traversal of both the inside and outside face, as with a Möbius strip or Klein bottle. In effect-there is no inner or outer, as one can cross from one face to the other without ever leaving the surface, or passing through the topological boundary or distinction. The point below the surface one arrives at by puncturing the spere is simply the antipode of the point you started on.

This seems a close relative of a class of figures known as compact tori. When one inflates a tire tube, it gets fatter; but what if you could shrink the center hole and then allow the fattening to continue beyond the center to the opposite wall? While the limitations of objects and surfaces in 3-d space forbid this a 3-sphere lives in 4-d space, allowing the maneuver described above to be accomplished as a simple rotation. That is; it's an easy and natural extension, that gives a sphere torus-like attributes, so long as we allow a rotation in an additional dimension to take place.

An interesting thought about the complex plane. If one observes the activity of the iterand, when working on points near the border of the Mandelbrot Set, the iterations for points along one wall take place in the opposite lobe, when plotting in the cardioid region, or tend to happen on the opposite side of the Real axis in general. One could make some generalizations about active and passive modes and hemispheres. But the mirror image is just as valid.

I appreciate the comments.

All the Best,


Steve Dufourny replied on Aug. 7, 2012 @ 16:10 GMT
Hello Eckard and Jonathan,

you like the play Jonathan and the strategy, me also now, I am begining to play you know. I will send you a book about my 3D spheres and its spherization, and don't say me that it is a lisian appraoch :)

The Nash equilibrium you know ?

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Steve Dufourny replied on Aug. 7, 2012 @ 16:19 GMT
Hello Thinkers,

a sphere torus, relevant like in the p- adic numbers and their taxonomy. The 3D is everywhere even at our walls. I invite you to insert the classment of numbers correlated with volumes in a pure Cantorian approach. The groups of spheres appear with determinism. The Reals R, the Rationals Q and the Qp can be harmonized. The limits must be inserted with the biggest universal 3D meaning. The hidden varibales are rational. The body of p- adic numbers show the real spherical road when the groups are well analyzed.the rotations spinal and orbital take all their meaning. The finite groups and the infinities can be classed in a pure spherical oscillation, periodic ! Don't forget the asolute value for a real understanding of or symmetries, don't forget that a symmetry fermions/bosons in a pure 3D is not a mathematical symemtry due to the -.Of course the 0 appears with 1 like a pure universal logic.

Don't forget also so that the axiom of dimensionality is not verified, so it implies a lot of things for our proportions due to the rotations of my spheres.


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Peter Jackson wrote on Aug. 7, 2012 @ 14:10 GMT

Another masterly overview, and I liked the emphasis on 'play', which I use myself but with different theatrical metaphore's. I also value the content highly, particularly the more cerebral view of entropy. Most in keeping with my own thesis is the concept of connectivity, or how there is no 'empty space' isolating systems. I develop this to consider the whole universe as co-joined media, with motion always creating boundary conditions.

Finally I agree but also extend the view that it's not just the public who rely on and cling on to 19th century science in the face of evidence and logical analysis.

But will science not just pay lip service to the ideals and carry on as normal? I propose they need a better and more consistent solution, but one which may take more intelligence than generally available, or at least more freedom in 'play'.

I very much hope you'll read my own essay and look forward to you comments on content.


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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Aug. 7, 2012 @ 15:49 GMT
Thanks Peter,

Please don't get me started on how many scientists are still making assumptions that come straight out of 19th century Physics, as though the 20th century never happened. One of the life sciences recently celebrated 200 years of success with reductionism, and it was almost enough to make me cry.

I advocate the view that Science benefits everyone, if approached correctly. But we need cooperation to crack some problems, as well as healthy competition. And we also need the playful exploration of a range of options, rather than encouraging monolithic thinking "so it will look like we know what we are talking about."

I think that there is some hubris in the air of certainty expressed by many String theory advocates, for example, but perhaps it is that sense that if they can put all the objectors in their place; these guys must know what they are talking about. That air of certainty, and the willingness to resort to intellectual put-downs, may be what is required to get finding these days - as that attitude is familiar to folks in the finance sector.

I'll read yours some time soon.



Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Aug. 7, 2012 @ 15:52 GMT

that should read.. "what is required to get funding these days."



Alan Lowey wrote on Aug. 7, 2012 @ 15:08 GMT
Hi Jonathan,

I enjoyed your easy-to-read essay upto the point where you said "But often, playing with ideas in theory suggests that a greater truth exists, as with Einstein and the study of gravity. Newtons Law of Gravitation is remarkably accurate within certain bounds or barring complications demanding Relativity. If an object and observer share the same local frame of reference and neither is a supermassive object, we dont need a more complicated formula."

This is much too simplistic a view imo. There are many anomalies and inconsistencies with the orthodox view on gravity. For example, how does your view of Newtonian physics explain the Flyby Anomaly?

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Author Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Aug. 7, 2012 @ 16:01 GMT
Thanks Alan,

I agree that Newton's gravity is too simplistic, and I discuss why "we don't need a more complicated formula" is just a convenient approximation in the endnotes. I have a lot of thoughts about the need to extend our understanding of gravity, but no more time to elaborate right now. I know a little bit about the Flyby anomaly, but have not tried to explain it yet.

Let me know if any questions remain when you are done reading my essay.

All the Best,


Thomas Wagner replied on Sep. 20, 2012 @ 19:27 GMT
Thank you for the nice remarks on my essay.

Here are some thought about gravity that are a bit different.

Einstein, who, more than anyone else gave us our current view of the nature of gravity, said that gravity is not a force and yet in most of contemporary physics gravity is treated as if it were. It appears that the presently held view of gravity is that it does not pull you into...

view entire post

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John Merryman wrote on Aug. 7, 2012 @ 19:19 GMT

You might consider further dissecting the intellectual dynamic in physical terms. Yes, children do explore in a non-linear, expansive fashion, but the end result is adulthood, where we settle into a stable, linear order and routine. Much as stem cells start out with the potential to be any part of the body, but to actually function as useful, mature cells, have to settle into a particular function. In many ways, this process is reductionism. It is quite useful and necessary in its linear, distillate focus. Eventually though, it becomes a closed set and subject to the old meaning of entropy, using up its stored energy and unable to access more, since that would disrupt its mature definition and routine. So it eventually dies and residual energy is dispersed out into the environment. There is this constant inductive/deductive cycle of expansion and contraction, that has no final goal, as that would simply be one more declining closed set of complete order, with no need for further expansion.

So we step back and see what stage of the cycle we currently inhabit and what lays in store, further along the pattern. I think that in current physics, just as with the current economic situation, we are at a frothy top, where efforts to continue on the present trajectory only result in blowing ever more ephemeral bubbles. So the slide back down from this top will be a form of reductionism, as all the weaker ideas struggle to survive and stronger ideas, like rocks poking through a crashing wave, become more evident. Obviously we all have different perspectives on which are the strong ideas and which are the frothy waves, but only time/evolution of the process will sort them out. Then we will repeat the process, using these new foundational concepts to further expand our understanding of reality.

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John Merryman replied on Aug. 7, 2012 @ 19:40 GMT
Not to imply this isn't what you are doing, but just wanted to emphasize how the intellectual process is a reflection of the physical process.

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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Aug. 7, 2012 @ 19:46 GMT
Thanks John,

I like those ideas.

Even mature minds don't need to harden, however. Pete Seeger, in his 90s, has a very active mind - even for scientific topic - and has still got a more youthful demeanor than some people in their 40s. Plasma physicist Padma Shukla has such playfulness and youthful exuberance for Physics that it's hard to believe he is in his 80s.

From what I have seen, playing keeps you in the game.



Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Aug. 7, 2012 @ 19:52 GMT
Thanks again,

Regarding "the intellectual process is a reflection of the physical process."

I agree whole heartedly! To costructivists, determination has a dual role that is part measurement and part a creative act; that's where the construction part comes in. One can certainly make generalizations to all of learning.

all the best,


Thomas Howard Ray wrote on Aug. 8, 2012 @ 11:48 GMT
Hi Jonathan,

Bravo! As both science and journalism, this essay rates with the very best. Tightly reasoned, impeccably organized and a pleasure to read. I appreciate the intellectual courage and honesty it takes to reference the Joy Christian affair. Not surprisingly, my own essay builds on Joy's results, and I hope you get a chance to read and comment.

In your notes, you make the point, "The 3-sphere is an odd-ball ... as it has a Möbius-like surface." Joy makes use of that nontrivial property in his quantum correlation function. In an earlier paper (ICCS 2006) I describe it as a continuous projection between S^2 and S^4. My conviction is only stronger that the best ideas in foundational physics are converging on a complete continuous function theory that only a topological framework can accommodate.

All best,


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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Aug. 8, 2012 @ 17:54 GMT
Thanks so much!

I value your opinion Tom, and hope I have earned your high praise. I'll have to finish reading your essay, which I did download and glance at, and then weigh in on your forum page. As I remember, it looked quite interesting, and was well-written. I felt like I had to mention Joy's work in my essay, because of its potential significance, but I consciously tried to maintain a certain journalistic indifference - so as to avoid some of the heated emotionality the debate has raised.

I share your belief that geometry and topology hold answers that inform Physics, and I think it works in ways we have only begun to understand. I feel it is silly (or contentious) to impute that other people's work has less value (or is falsified) because you have a better idea, but if you can show your model gives good predictions where other models fail - that is a very good thing. I think P. Grangier may be right to say that what Joy has created is not, strictly speaking, a disproof of Bell's theorem; but I feel it has great value or marvelous potential nonetheless.



T H Ray replied on Aug. 8, 2012 @ 18:30 GMT
Thanks, Jonathan. I agree with Grangier on this one point, and strictly from a mathematical viewpoint. Bell's mathematics is sound -- as I say in my essay, however, not correspondent to the foundations of physical reality.

Looking forward to further dialogue!


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Joy Christian replied on Aug. 8, 2012 @ 19:50 GMT
Hi Jonathan,

Yes, indeed, thank you for taking the risk to mention my work in your essay. In fact I have seen it mentioned at least in four other essays posted here.

As for the "disproof" issue, according to my former PhD supervisor Abner Shimony---an undisputed authority on Bell's theorem after Bell---"no physical theory which is realistic as well as local in [the senses specified by EPR and Bell] can reproduce all of the statistical predictions of quantum mechanics." I have decisively disproved this statement of the theorem by constructing just such a local "theory." Therefore Bell's mathematical theorem no longer has the fundamental significance for physics it was thought to have.

This however does not mean that any attempt to produce a local model of physics can be successful from now on. One still has to satisfy the locality and reality conditions specified by both EPR and Bell to produce a genuinely local model of physics.

In any case, in the memory of Ray,

Have Fun!


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Joe Fisher wrote on Aug. 8, 2012 @ 15:50 GMT
Dear Mr. Dickau,

Although your essay was exceptionally well written, your introductory comment about children (possibly being brainwashed) into obtaining symbolic thinking capability at age two and a half was one of the most saddening pieces of literature I have ever read. No so-called civilized child has ever been taught how to obtain its own food, or find its own shelter, or to exist clad only in its own skin. Not one Reality 101 class has ever been taught in any school. Yet every single child is taught to parrot the nonsensical abstract numbers 1,2,3. As I have thoughtfully pointed out in my essay Sequence Consequence, the sensible reality of here and now is obtainable by all. Unreasonable human addicted concentration on the abstractions of the mystical there and then such as mathematics is the province of the arrogant few.

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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Aug. 8, 2012 @ 18:13 GMT
Thanks Joe!

The fact is; I agree with you - at least on some level. We cut our children short from what they might learn through playful exploration by hooking them into a singular view of the world - the idea that there is one correct description. Alison Gopnik calls this distinction the "Lantern vs Searchlight" approach. Once the parents intercede in play a few times too often, the emphasis for the child shifts to pleasing the role model and doing things their way - the parents' way - in imitation.

This is indeed very sad. The same thing is observed in Music education, where very young kids are quite uninhibited and eager to join in for music making of all kinds, but a year or two later - it is as if someone flipped a switch and only the 'good singers' will open their mouths at all! Once we start to tell our kids they are doing it wrong, or badly, they stop trying to experiment on their own 'to see what comes out.'

As for numbers; little kids have an innate sense of more or fewer, but they need to learn the distinction between none and one of something, before they can grasp the abstraction of 1,2,3. I guess I'll have to check out your essay, Joe; but I heartily recommend the book "Biology of Transcendence" by Joseph Chilton Pearce. If you have not already found this work, I predict it will become one of your favorite books.

All the Best,


Author Frank Martin DiMeglio wrote on Aug. 8, 2012 @ 17:02 GMT
Mr. Dickau. The observations at a distance (in cosmology) that you reference are [importantly] related to creations of thought and to the uniformity/sameness (but unpredictability, on balance) and contradictions that they involve/reveal. Our understanding of outer space is significantly limited.

The basics of typical/ordinary experience (including vision) are fundamental to physics, theory, and the understanding. Please, open your eyes to the direct experience of/by the body. Do not lose sight of that. You have fine ability, and you are considerably more open minded than many at this site. Good luck with your work.

Combining, balancing, and including opposites is key.

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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Aug. 8, 2012 @ 18:23 GMT
Thanks. I shall remember the balance is important, Frank.

And yes the direct experience is key. Go out in the woods or country, far from city lights, on a clear night; you will see the sky is ablaze and experience the feeling that the Earth and yourself are part of the greater Cosmos. But it's hard to see the stars when you are standing in the city.

We're out in the middle of the cosmos either way, but these days people need to get away from the crowd, just to have that experience with their own senses.

All the Best,


Avtar Singh wrote on Aug. 8, 2012 @ 17:08 GMT
Dear Jonathan:

I enjoyed reading your well-written and comprehensive paper on the cherished assumptions. I completely agree with your statement:

“There will always be frontiers in Physics, horizons we cannot reach and must speculate about instead. It is best, therefore, to be aware that any of our cherished assumptions could be wrong, and to remember the assumptions we do not know...

view entire post

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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Aug. 8, 2012 @ 18:37 GMT

Thanks very much Avtar. I agree that missing insights may be the key, and that you have found an important insight that is often overlooked. I'm very pleased that you are aware of the inconsistencies you cite, especially with the current paradigm in Cosmology, and choose to grapple with them rather than let the cumbersome workarounds we now have stand as answers.

All of Physics is ripe for a shake up, right about now, and the next revolution will probably be more about things we knew but ignored - because they were assumed insignificant - than it will be about explicit assumptions made in error. Ofttimes people wrongly feel there are no better answers, and they try to make do with the answers offered by the current crop of experts.

But if people were willing to think for themselves, some of those answers would not stand. Let us hope we have a few free-thinkers on this forum.

All the Best,


Avtar Singh wrote on Aug. 8, 2012 @ 21:11 GMT
Dear Jonathan:

Continuing on my previous post, I also agree with your statement:

“The point is that reality and the universe are unified – existing as a congruent whole. Rather than seeking a route to the unification of fundamental forces and entities, scientists should observe how nature is already unified, and highlight the unity that is already there, or the unifying concepts already in play. ……. They are connected more directly too, and all things form a congruent whole. There are no truly isolated systems, as everything is part of its environment and also helps to create that environment. I think this assumption will stand the test of time.”

Yes, indeed, the above approach to science is again vindicated in my posted paper - “ From Absurd to Elegant Universe”, which provides the following new wholesome perspective on the universal reality encompassing the partial Newtonian, quantum, discrete, and non-discrete realities. The universe is shown to be a cosmos with a relativistic order and not chaos founded on uncertainty. The model also unfolds the following universal realities:

• The universe represents an eternal and omnipresent continuum of mass-energy-space-time following the conservation laws.

• Relativity, and not uncertainty, rules the universe’s connectivity and non-locality via space-time dilation.

• Quantum reality represents only partial reality and must be augmented with relativistic considerations to represent the universal wholesome reality. The relativistic universal reality exists irrespective of the observer. Paradoxes of quantum measurements and quantum reality (entanglement, tunneling, multiverses, multi-dimensions and anti-matter etc.) are artifacts of the observational limitations imposed by the fixed space-time. A measuring instrument interprets the quantum phenomena (V~C) from a Newtonian (V~0) frame of reference, hence the quantum realty represents a truncated (collapsed wavefunction) partial reality resulting in the observed weirdness. In order to describe the true universal reality, proper inclusion of the relativistic effects is essential in interpreting the quantum observations performed in and limited by the fixed space-time.

• There is no multiverse. There is only one single quasi-static universe entailing various relativistic states of the one whole continuum of mass-energy-space-time (uncollapsed quantum wavefunction). The various relativistic states (at various V/C) of one mass-energy-space-time continuum may appear (allude) to a quantum observer (situated in fixed space-time) as parallel universes (multiple sets of mass-energy-space-time at various V/C). GNMUE model described in the paper provides a bridge between the discrete (V

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Avtar Singh replied on Aug. 8, 2012 @ 21:15 GMT
The following got truncated from my post above:

• There is no multiverse. There is only one single quasi-static universe entailing various relativistic states of the one whole continuum of mass-energy-space-time (uncollapsed quantum wavefunction). The various relativistic states (at various V/C) of one mass-energy-space-time continuum may appear (allude) to a quantum observer (situated in fixed space-time) as parallel universes (multiple sets of mass-energy-space-time at various V/C). GNMUE model described in the paper provides a bridge between the discrete (V less than C) and non-discrete (V~C) realities via properly accounting for the relativistic effects.

In summary, your suggested approach to science, rather than sticking to the old cherished assumptions, is vindicated by my paper to provide a true wholesome reality and solution to many of the paradoxes currently paralyzing science.


Avtar Singh

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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Aug. 8, 2012 @ 23:49 GMT
Thanks Avtar!

I like it. A lot of mysteries go away when we remember that particle decay not only liberates energy, but nullifies the mass those particles held onto. It is a blessing that you are here to let people know the little things (sub-atomic particles) matter, and that when a portion of the universe's quota goes away, their mass does too. It makes sense, but is easily forgotten or assumed untrue if we imagine that various entities have a longer half-life than is real.

All the Best,


Philip Gibbs replied on Aug. 11, 2012 @ 14:05 GMT
Jonathan, A good essay about the way we use assumptions, well done.

Interesting point about the way homogeniety of apce became an assumption in cosmology. Did you know that Lamaitre actually looked at more general cosmological solutions in which space was not homogenious? I think it was just a working assumption that was adopted that the universe is homogeneous and it was supported by observation for a long time, especially CMB. The wroking assumption becomes a principle when people learn about the model and take it more seriously than it was originally intended. Homogeniety beyond the observable horizon is not supported by observations or logical necessity.

I also agree that spacetime may lose its dimensionality. Such things are probably emergent.

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Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on Aug. 16, 2012 @ 10:59 GMT
Dear Jonathan

I enjoyed your essay both for its general good sense about adopting new assumptions (and I suppose that includes negating old ones that conflict with the new) in a 'playful' attitude; and also for some interesting accounts of new research. Emergent dimensionality for example. I liked the idea of equating entropy with an ordered dissipation. You have given me a powerful new angle to support my belief that diffraction, or diffusion is the basis of both quantum probability and uncertainty. I have detailed this, among other things - to the best of my rather limited technical abilities - in my Beautiful Universe Theory . Wow, if that explanation also includes entropy as well that is three birds with one stone - thanks!

I was rather surprised by your saying that Anton Zeilinger cautioned against the point photon in his lecture - is there an online reference to that? Thanks. The reason I found that surprising is that rejecting the point photon, as I have argued, rejects the reality of the probabilistic interpretation, a staple of the maths used to interpret entanglement for which Zeilinger became famous.

Lastly in a recent fqxi discussion I found that someone has urged you to read Eric Reiter's fqxi essay. I had the honor to introduce the contest to him and urged him to publish his groundbreaking experimental proof against the point photon in fqxi. By all means please study and support his work as you see fit.

Lastly I would be honored if you read and evaluate my own rather free-wheeling fqxi essay my fqxi essay Fix Physics! .

Withe best wishes,


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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Aug. 20, 2012 @ 01:28 GMT
Thank You Vladimir,

I have a photograph of Zeilinger standing in front of a slide showing the book page regarding Einstein's letter expressing doubts about the light corpuscle theory. I got the sense from Zeilinger's lecture that he was telling folks don't trust anything to be true with absolute certainty, but suggesting photons might be wave-like after all. Keep an open mind.

Decoherence theory paints a different picture as well. The suggestion there is that the underpinning is wave-like nature, and that probabilistic surface appearances are a direct result of the fact that observation takes place from a localized framework, which induces the appearance or occurrence of a local collapse of wave-like nature into particle-like natures with probabilities.

I looked briefly at your essay, which has cool drawings as I recall, and I will comment further on your forum page.



Gene H Barbee wrote on Aug. 17, 2012 @ 16:53 GMT
Jonathan, I enjoyed your essay. Do you know when children start to assemble color images? I did some modeling of vision with one of Feynman’s equations and found that the wavelengths associated with blue, green, red and scotopic (black/white) are information theory numbers I have been “playing” with (the sequence 1x 0.0986, 2x etc). Obviously our minds are keenly tuned to color vision by evolution and there is some “hardwiring” of nerve connections but I had to ask myself why our senses so easily blend information into one experience. You mentioned a new interpretation of entropy but I would like to know your thoughts on entropy as an information theory quantity. I used information theory to develop models of fundamental particles (neutrons, protons, electrons, neutrinos, etc.) and fundamental forces, including gravity. (See my essay entitled “A top-down approach to fundamental forces”). The effort was similar to breaking a code and discovery of the Higgs particle fit right into the theory. Also, it made me feel more comfortable with quantum mechanics being probabilistic. The question remains “Are we experiencing an information based reality because our minds assemble information?” Information is not solipsism (sp?)….thermodynamics treats entropy as a physical variable.

BTW—I also live in upstate NY during the summer. Where are you?

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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Aug. 20, 2012 @ 01:40 GMT
Thanks Gene,

I appreciate the kind thoughts.

I note that Shannon's information entropy has the same equation as that for thermodynamic entropy, except without Boltzmann's constant. Professor Leff takes the question up in the last article in his 5-part series, suggesting that information loss is an important dynamic to complement the spreading metaphor and include other forms of entropy.

My thought is that if we expand the spreading metaphor into spreading in possibility space this could be seamlessly merged into quantum mechanical interactions. I'll get to reading your essay soon, and comment on your pages.

all the best,


Georgina Parry wrote on Aug. 21, 2012 @ 04:42 GMT
Dear Johnathan,

I want to let you know that I have read your essay and found a lot to agree with, which probably comes as no surprise. Well done. It seems to be what the competition asks for, accessible, enjoyable, relevant, well written. It ticks the boxes. I wish I could be even more enthusiastic and inspired to discuss its content. Unfortunately I have spent far too long on this web site talking about how I regard the many problems and how I think they can be resolved. Like Israel Perez' excellent essay, it feels to me like the inspiring team talk before the match. When what I'm really itching to see is the match started. Not your fault, entirely mine. Good luck in the competition. I hope lots of people read your essay and are inspired by its important message.

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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Aug. 21, 2012 @ 16:34 GMT
Thanks Georgina,

Rest assured that the match is on and the game is afoot for me already. While it may seem like I was casting about in this essay, and ticking the boxes, there is a big picture in my mind for which many of those scattered bits of information serve as evidence. I am working on a paper right now, spelling that thesis out. It is intended for publication, but I am not ready to post a draft here yet.

As to the other matter, I think being inspired by Science and wanting to learn about it go hand in hand. It is a real challenge for some teachers to make the subject interesting and exciting enough to hold kids' attention. I think making Science more fun should be a real goal in itself, as that is the prevailing attitude among those scientists who actually 'get the gold.'

I wish more kids were inspired to compete, though the demands of a field like Physics are necessarily rigorous, rather than sit and watch on TV (if at all). But I got the Science bug at an early age, and it's hard to pull me away once I get into some ideas and questions. I'd be an FQXi junkie, if I had more time.

all the best,


T H Ray replied on Aug. 21, 2012 @ 17:07 GMT
Hi Jonathan,

Great point about getting kids into science early. I have had the honor the past three years, of serving as a Cyberguide for middle school students, in an annual science competition program sponsored by the US Army. The kids are enthusiastic, serious and motivated -- the teacher sponsors are selfless with their time. I take every opportunity I can to tell scientists and teachers -- volunteer in any capacity you can. You will get as much if not more satisfaction from it, as the students.


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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 01:25 GMT
There you are,

Thanks for making my point Tom, and it does sound like fun. If we get the kids started thinking about Science while their minds are still open to being inspired, the next generation will produce some very able scientists.

All the Best,


Lawrence B. Crowell wrote on Sep. 3, 2012 @ 02:29 GMT
Your essay is food for thought. When experiments lead to difficulties it can often be the case that our postulates are incomplete or wrong.

Cheers LC

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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Sep. 4, 2012 @ 02:38 GMT
Thanks Lawrence,

I'm glad my essay provided inspiration for further thoughts. Getting a new perspective is what progress is all about, or how advances in Physics happen. Having experimental evidence in contrast with past observation breaks the pattern and is a wake up call - alerting us to the need to learn more, before we can truly understand.

Then the question becomes "which of our postulates got us into trouble?" So there is always something more to learn.



Lawrence B Crowell replied on Sep. 8, 2012 @ 02:12 GMT
I finally got my voting code, which I did not receive with the acceptance. I will try to reread your paper in the near future.

I indicated to Giovanni Amelino-Camelia the κ-Minkowski and his boost operator should have some connection to twistor theory. The boost operator P_μ that acts on [x_i, x_0] = ilx_i such that

P_μ > [x_i, x_0] = il P_μ > x_i

The coordinates (x_j, x_0) we write in spinor form

x_j = σ_j^{aa’}ω_{aa’}

x_0 = σ_0^{aa’}ω_{aa’},

where ω_{aa’} = ξ_a ω_{a’} + ξ_{a’}ω_a. This commutator has the form

[x_i, x_0] = σ_j^{aa’}σ_0^{bb’}[ω_{aa’}, ω_{bb’}]

= iC^{cc’}_{aa’bb’} σ_j^{aa’} σ_0^{bb’} ω_{aa’}

= i|C| σ_j^{aa’}ω_{aa’}

where the magnitude of the structure matrix is |C| = l. In general this may be written for

x_j = σ_j^{aa’}ω_{aa’}

x_0 = σ_0^{aa’}ω_{aa’} + iq_{aa’}π^{aa’},

where the commutator [ω_{aa’}, π^{bb’}] = iδ_a^bδ_{a’}^{b’} and the general form of the commutator is then

[x_i, x_0] = i|C| σ_j^{aa’}ω_{aa’} + iσ_j^{aa’}q_{bb’}[ω_{aa’}, π^{bb’’}

[x_i, x_0] = ilσ_j^{aa’}ω_{aa’} - σ_j^{aa’}q_{aa’}.

The boost operation B = 1 + a^l_jP^j on the commutator [x_i, x_0] is then equivalent to the commutation between spinors [ω_a, ω’_b] for ω’_b = ω_b + iq_{bb’}π^{b’},

[ω_a, ω’_b] = [ω_a, ω_b] + iq_{bb’}[ω_a , π^{b’}]

= C^c_{ab} ω_c + iq_{ab}.

Ed Witten demonstrated a "twistor revolution" in string theory. If this connection exists and can be explored further, it might mean that loop variables and other discrete quantum gravity ideas might bridge with string theory. It could then be that the two approaches will fix the various difficulties they have.

Cheers LC


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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Sep. 8, 2012 @ 14:57 GMT
Indeed Lawrence,

The 'twistor revolution' in string theory is the most important breakthrough for either twistors or strings in years. It as though String Theory has seen a lot of cloud to cloud lightning, but was stuck in the clouds having no clear path to ground. But Twistor theory provides 'leaders' from ground to air - so the air to ground lightning can connect. This explains a lot of the action we've seen with Nima Arkani-Hamed and his colleagues' work exploiting S-matrix dualities.

But the larger issues of emergent spacetime and building bridges allowing us to redefine loop variables and other causal elements that arise when considering Quantum Gravity need considerable work, at this point. It remains promising but, as I state in my essay, I think the Octonions also offer a natural approach to spacetime evolution. I thank you for the analysis of important terms in the above comments; unfortunately, I still have not read Giovanni's essay - so I have to trace these references back once I do.

all the best,


Stefan Weckbach wrote on Sep. 6, 2012 @ 21:35 GMT
Hi Jonathan,

i find your essay is great, well-elaborated, entertaining and informing at the same time on a well-founded, easy to understand and intuitive level.

My appreciation to this pice of analysis, i can subscribe every sentence of it!

Best wishes,


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Stefan Weckbach replied on Sep. 6, 2012 @ 21:36 GMT
Should read "piece" instead of "pice", sorry!

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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Sep. 7, 2012 @ 02:46 GMT
Thanks so much Stefan!

I had already planned to finish my first read through of your essay shortly, but there was a comment here and I found it was your enthusiastic message above. I am very glad you got something out of my essay and thought I presented my ideas well. There is plenty of interesting material to read this year, but I am happy I made your stop here a pleasant one.

All the Best,


Stefan Weckbach replied on Sep. 7, 2012 @ 05:31 GMT
Dear Jonathan,

you really earned this appreciation. Your knowledge of the relevant issues in physics is that broad and you did contemplate all of it. Thanks for having lead me to your essay!

Best wishes,


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Jonathan Kerr wrote on Sep. 8, 2012 @ 11:16 GMT
Hello Jonathan,

I've returned from holday and reread your essay, enjoyed it very much. Thinking about how we think and progress can be very helpful, and the points about child psychology were interesting. You mention that in cosmology there are sometimes a number of different explanations for the same data, rather than just one. This is similar to a point I make in my essay about how...

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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Sep. 8, 2012 @ 15:12 GMT
Wow Jonathan!

You hit the nail on the head, that conceptual models are somewhat lacking and should always inform our Math in Physics. In my research, I have encountered plenty of examples of the opposite - things which arise from pure Math that appear to have connections to, or applications in, Physics.

But without a clear conceptual model, these mathematical explorations have no connection back to the real world. There is always room for more than one conceptual model in my perception of the universe. As you point out, several conceptual representations can express the same Physics, or be coded by the same equations.

But modern adults tend to forget what children know intuitively. One Cognitive Science researcher I cite, Alison Gopnik, refers to this as the "Lantern vs Searchlight" phenomenon. While children shine their lamp here and there, in search of knowledge, adults say let's shine a LIGHT on it, in a narrowly focused way. Sadly, this cancels out a lot of healthy exploration.

all the best,


Jonathan Kerr wrote on Sep. 8, 2012 @ 16:04 GMT

Well as you say, an approach of general enquiry is good, rather than with too many presumptions. But I also don't mind shining a light in a particular direction, because I think there are specific clues to be examined on the conceptual side.

I think we forget how much conceptual progress can simplify the picture. Within the mathematics, people tend to say, well we haven't found any simple answers, so let's look for more complicated ones. To me there's a bit of that in your idea that the dimensionality of the universe is evolving. It's true that at present our theories disagree on the dimensionality of the universe, but I suspect that with conceptual progress, we might find it doesn't have to be as complicated as an evolving picture. That's my opinion - the simplicity of some of the mathematics suggests it. Anyway, let me know if you have any thoughts on my essay, I'd be grateful to hear them.

Best wishes, Jonathan

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Yuri Danoyan wrote on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 00:09 GMT

In my essay i catch new sense of Planck mass


My conjecture: There are Base Fermion and Base Boson of the Universe. Value of Planck mass is Geometric Mean of Values Mass of Proton(Neutron) and Mass of Hawking Black hole

Base Fermion is proton(neutron) ;Mpr=10^-24 g

Base Boson is Hawking primordial black...

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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 01:05 GMT
Thanks Yuri,

That sounds interesting. A new way to define the Planck mass? I'll be sure to check that out. I hope you enjoyed my essay, or will check it out too.

all the best,


Yuri Danoyan replied on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 01:31 GMT
Second law of thermodinamics is major barrier for confirmation cyclic universe.

I try get help from Dirac.

See my essay

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Michael James Goodband replied on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 15:39 GMT
The second law of thermodynamics is *not* a barrier to a cyclical universe, IF (and very probably only if) the effective number of dimensions available to radiative degrees of freedom changes. This is because the *definition* of entropy is dependent upon the number of dimensions in which it is calculated. This generally does not occur for real, but there are scenarios in GR where this could occur. In section 3 of my STUFT paper this dimensional dependence of entropy is applied to a simple toy model of a black hole, and I easily derive the form of the thermodynamic temperature and Hawking entropy of a black hole without touching quantum theory.

In a closed cycle that crosses a change in the number of dimensions there will exist an entropy anamoly because it's definition changes. This would be true for a closed cycle of mass falling into a black hole and being emitted as radiation - the apparent 'information paradox' of a black hole is very possibly an example of such an anamoly. A cyclical universe where some subset of dimensions compactified would also display a similar entropy anamoly - this is capable of giving a cyclical universe without violating the second law. Yes ... really! (it is fairly simple to check). Dimensional reduction is rather odd and has some unexpected effects - the definitions of physical quantities changing on you is one of them.


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Yuri Danoyan wrote on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 15:50 GMT
Dimensional reduction is only way to break an impasse.

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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Sep. 11, 2012 @ 02:51 GMT
Perhaps not the only way,

But dimensional reduction does open up some interesting possibilities. Researchers thought 2-d gravity was a dead end, until they figured out the scenario can still admit topology. That was a game changer.

The big deal for me is that adding or reducing a dimension gives you a different perspective on where you are now. Being in a 3-d space lets us see the whole circle on a 2-d page, a perspective we would not have from anywhere on the paper. But the reverse is apparently also true.

all the best,


Yuri Danoyan replied on Sep. 12, 2012 @ 10:45 GMT
Dimensional reduction put into question the existence of the Planck length and Planck time, but don't touch Plank mass.See my essay in 1413

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Michael James Goodband wrote on Sep. 11, 2012 @ 15:50 GMT

On your point about measuring rods and size is relative, the compactification of dimensions can give a significant example of this point. This is certainly the case in my model where there is a compactification-inflation see-saw between a spatial S3 universe and S7 particle gauge dimensions. As you say, size is relative which is why in GR the radial scale factor R of the universe is not physically defined as measurable. Extending GR to more dimensions doesn't make this go away. My S3 universe has the same radial scale factor R as normal GR, but the S7 dimensions has its own radial scale factor X. Neither R or X are definable in a measurable way, but one can be measured in terms of the other, i.e. R/X is a physically measurable quantity. This means that every physical scale is effectively measured in units of X, including the scale of the compactified dimensions, which gives X/X=1 and the artifical impression that the compactified dimensions are of a fized size! This would mean that the Kaluza-Klein condition of fixed scale compactified dimensions is highly misleading. This is what many physicists seem to object to about KK and compactified dimensions (I certainly used to) because the fixed scale seems artifical - and actually it is! The dimensional scale can be fixed in physically measurable terms and yet be varying in absolute terms ... except in GR all size is relative and so no absolute view exists.

A simple analogy of this measuring rod effect is given by a mass bouncing up and down on a piece of elastic but using the elastic to measure the length of itself - the measured length would be constant, giving the artifical impression that nothing is happening. This would correspond to a total energy view of the bouncing mass - which is constant - and the same sort of measuring rod effect with compactified dimensions would also give a distorted energy view as well. In addition, the definition of energy in GR is not fixed for a time dependent metric, such as that of an expanding universe.

So with the dimensional dependence of the definition of entropy as well, our set of measuring rods will be subject to highly significant changes with the compactification of dimensions. Not taking these measuring rod effects into account will give a highly misleading view of the universe.


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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Sep. 11, 2012 @ 17:11 GMT
Thank you Michael, for the insights and clarification;

The see-saw effect you describe above is one of the things I like best about your theory. The shrinking of one figure becomes the growth in another, because they share the same topological boundary. In many ways, topology drives the shape and geometry of space to evolve into what it has become. But looking straight at the fabric (or topological surface) gives us a clearer picture of what the space is doing.

We are used to having an environment full of objects with a well-defined size. The concept of size would be meaningless, in any given space, unless there were objects in that space to define a relativity of large and small. Nor can a single observation or measurement give you the full picture, as perspective makes closer objects look larger. But the same objects seen from enough different perspectives will give a more well-rounded outlook of relative scale.

all the best,


Gene H Barbee wrote on Sep. 13, 2012 @ 17:26 GMT
Jonathan, I posted a new paper entitled "Gravity in an expanding universe". It may help overcome reluctance to accept my essay's derivation of the gravitational constant. By the way, I am back in our Monterey, Ca house.

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Jonathan Kerr wrote on Sep. 16, 2012 @ 23:00 GMT
Hello Jonathan,

Did you have any thoughts on my essay? Some of the ideas are summed up in a good conversation with George Ellis on his page, Sept 9th - 10th (12.49 - 20.33). We agree on a lot of things, but he has the spacetime interpretation and block time modified, I think they need replacing. He agreed with what's in my essay, which is a rational argument that standard block time must be false. I pointed out a major weakness in the EBU picture (emerging block universe) on that thread, which he didn't really refute.

Anyway, have been enjoying the discussion on your page.

Look forward to talking with you,

Best wishes, Jonathan

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Member Benjamin F. Dribus wrote on Sep. 18, 2012 @ 17:19 GMT
Dear Jonathan,

Having noticed several insightful comments you have made on other threads, I was prompted to read your essay. It did not disappoint. In what follows, I hope you’ll forgive me if I mention how my own ideas relate to a lot of what you said. The fact is, you touch on many if not most of the points I think are crucial to advancing physics, and consequently these are things I have thought a lot about.

1. An important point you make is how little we actually know about cosmology. This should be self-evident from the mere fact that 95% of the postulated matter-energy content of the universe is “dark,” meaning we know not what. An important factor here, I think, is scale dependence; the strong/weak interactions, EM, gravity, dark matter, and dark energy all dominate on different scales. This suggests fractal concepts at work, which is exactly what you suggest. Bravo!

2. You mention noninteger dimension. Again, I think this is right on target. In particular, dimension is something I would like to try to explain, rather than assume.

3. On the subject of inflation, I will just remark that theories based on causal structure, rather than manifolds, may have an advantage here, since one of the main problems inflation seeks to explain is homogeneity, and there exist causal structures that may accomplish this in a more natural way than manifold inflation. Scale-dependence, fractals, non-integer dimension, and causal structures all play a role in my own approach, described in my essay here: On the Foundational Assumptions of Modern Physics.

4. You mention twistor theory. It’s very likely to be important; I wish I knew more about it!

5. You make some other interesting remarks about dimension, which I will have to consider more carefully.

6. Regarding the quaternions and octonions and the relations to spheres, I think you are talking about Hopf fibrations. These are important even in ordinary quantum information theory, whether or not they have anything to do with fundamental structure.

7. You mention holism; I think this definitely applies at the quantum level, and one way to think about it is Feynman’s sum over histories, in which the entire history of the universe is relevant even to local evolution on the quantum level. I also discuss this in my essay.

8. You mention the symmetry groups of the Standard Model. I think that ultimately we will have to replace group representation theory with something more primitive. See my essay again for details.

In conclusion, thanks for the great read. I would also be interested to know your thoughts on my own submission. Take care,

Ben Dribus

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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Oct. 3, 2012 @ 04:56 GMT
OK Ben,

On 1.) the lack of knowledge about what constitutes the dark sector is something several speakers touched on at FFP11. We don't know exactly what dark matter or dark energy is, so cosmologists are taking a lot on faith IMO. And as you note; the scale dependence of dimensionality is important to consider, and suggests a fractal character to spacetime.

On 4.) yes Twistors are very cool. They address some of the issues you mentioned were raised about points by Grothendieck - on Ian's forum page. They replace points with Rays, as the most fundamental level of structure. I imagine that relates to the concept of causal structure quite explicitly.

On 7.) a holistic approach is essential to complete understanding, and it offers insight that is complementary to those obtained through reductionist means. And as for the sum over histories; you need to learn more about Feynman's forgotten gem - Hamiltonian Phase Space Path Integrals.

Basically you are then looking at dynamism straight on, as a Hamiltonian in phase space, rather than working in the kinematic space of the conventional Lagrangian formulation. The cool thing is that this incorporates quantum uncertainty at the outset, but often resolves into a simpler functional integral along the way. I'll look up a paper by Steven Kenneth Kauffmann you should have.

All the Best,


Author Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Sep. 25, 2012 @ 03:13 GMT
Hello everyone,

I heartily thank Gene, Jonathan, and Ben for their comments above. Sorry for my absence from this forum. I've been sidelined with unexpected responsibilities, but things are now getting back to normal. I'll be making more comments and reading more essays, over the next few days.

I expect to post some supporting materials here, to make a summary of important concepts covered in my essay, and also a brief review of concepts that carry over from my past FQXi essays, some time soon.

All the Best,


Sergey G Fedosin wrote on Sep. 25, 2012 @ 16:41 GMT
Dear Jonathan,

Studying the question of connection of entropy and gravitation, I found Lorentz-invariant formula for entropy in the book: Fizika i filosofiia podobiia ot preonov do metagalaktik. Perm, 1999, 544 pages. ISBN 5-8131-0012-1. In short the question is described in the book: The physical theories and infinite nesting of matter. Perm, 2009-2012, 858 pages. ISBN 978-5-9901951-1-0 in such way: Using the stress-energy tensors for the substance and the gravitational and electromagnetic fields allows us to write the equations of thermodynamics explicitly in the Lorentz-invariant form. As a result the entropy, the amount of heat, the chemical potential, the work and thermodynamic potentials can be represented as tensor functions of microscopic quantities, including the electric and gravitational field strengths, the pressure and the compression function. This allows us in § 21 to find out the meaning of the entropy as the function of the system state - it is proportional to the ratio, taken with the negative sign, of the absolute value of the ordered energy in the system to the heat energy, which is chaotic by nature. The ordered energy means the energy of directed motion of the substance, the compression energy from pressure and the potential energy of the substance in the gravitational and electromagnetic fields. When the system achieves equilibrium, part of the orderly energy inevitably is converted into thermal form and the entropy obtains a positive increment. I hope it may be interesting for you.

Sergey Fedosin

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Hoang cao Hai wrote on Sep. 26, 2012 @ 08:34 GMT
Dear Jonathan J. Dickau

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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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Oct. 3, 2012 @ 04:31 GMT
Thank you Hoang Cao Hai,

As your query is a generic message that relates to your essay content (rather than mine), I shall attempt to address your concerns on your essay's forum - instead of here - assuming I can get to reading it in a timely manner.

all the best,


Peter Jackson wrote on Sep. 28, 2012 @ 19:48 GMT

I agree with your comment above on topology, and extend that to the need for a physical boundary topology for inertial frames, which I offer.

Do let me know if you've read my essay yet as promised, I do look forward to your comments as I'm deluded enough to really believe I've uncovered an astonishing new insight, which I think you amongst not too many will grasps the kinetics of quite quickly. You may also enjoy the superficial touch of theatre.

I also think your own essay deserves to be very much higher and it's slipped in at the top of my score list. Glad you're back in action. Personally I'm nearly essayed to death!

Best wishes


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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Oct. 3, 2012 @ 04:16 GMT
Thank You Peter,

I appreciate your kind remarks. I have started reading your essay several times, and gotten distracted. What I have read looks very interesting. I shall make a special attempt to finish up and comment soon, before the cut off, as you were one of the first to visit my essay and forum page.

All the Best,


Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on Sep. 29, 2012 @ 11:34 GMT
Dear Jonathan I enjoyed our discussions on this and my page.


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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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Oct. 3, 2012 @ 04:23 GMT
A tall order Vladimir!

Thank you for your kind remarks, regardless.

I will see how many from your list I can get to in time. The ones I did read were quite interesting. But I have quite a few essays already in my queue. We shall see how quick the time goes.



Sergey G Fedosin wrote on Oct. 2, 2012 @ 16:20 GMT
After studying about 250 essays in this contest, I realize now, how can I assess the level of each submitted work. Accordingly, I rated some essays, including yours.

Cood luck.

Sergey Fedosin

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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Oct. 3, 2012 @ 04:11 GMT
Thank you Sergey,

I appreciate the time taken to read and your input, and I hope to give you the same courtesy soon.



Don Limuti wrote on Oct. 3, 2012 @ 03:07 GMT
Hi Jonathan,

I liked the easygoing flow (play) of your essay that gives a 3D view of what is happening in flatland.

It is also good to be with you in another essay contest.

Best of Luck,

Don L.

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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Oct. 3, 2012 @ 04:09 GMT
Thanks Don,

It is my pleasure to be in this contest with you, as well. I am glad you enjoyed my essay, and got that I was playing tour guide about our journey through dimensional space. I hope to read your essay soon, and I wish you great luck too.

All the Best,


Domenico Oricchio wrote on Oct. 3, 2012 @ 21:18 GMT
Thank you for the post in my essay: I am weak in bibliographic search (I apply the Poincaré method)

I am reading the article that you suggest, that is true for a simple (oscillator) system, but have the property to maintain the Plank constant (the weak point in my demonstration) in the Hamiltonization.

I understand that this is a starting point of a possible complete theory, but I share all my ideas because I think that the puzzles are solved combining small pieces of the solution: I shall try to develop more carefully my theory, but it is important that others had, and develop, the same ideas.



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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Oct. 4, 2012 @ 01:44 GMT
Thank you so much Domenico!

I think you will find Steven Kauffmann's work excellent. He is obviously brilliant, yet I once helped him to get a paper published, breaking a blockade. There is another paper of his, that focuses on the Hamiltonization procedure. I think he cites that work in the paper I forwarded though.

I am glad I could help you out, and I wish you the best of luck.



Author Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Oct. 4, 2012 @ 03:18 GMT
Hello All,

My essay 'Cherished Assumptions and the Progress of Physics' shows how a playful approach to making assumptions yields swifter research progress, which is essential in times where the available knowledge is growing very fast - like the present day. The time lag in the general public, for the adoption of new knowledge from Physics, is apparently about a century.

But for those on the forefront of scientific research; knowledge is doubling every ten years or less. Obviously, scientists must be more agile in their thinking strategies than the average individual. A conceptual approach is what is needed sometimes, but the fact there is more and more information to be learned means that there is a lot of memorization. It's important to also learn how to think and how to learn.

Scientific progress is about learning how to learn about the universe better. This is different from trying to learn all the details perfectly. It is all about trying out possible answers and getting the universe to tell you its secrets. Physics is really about how we learn about the universe.

That's all for now,


Cristinel Stoica replied on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 13:20 GMT
Dear Jonathan,

You are right that there is too much to know in science. Yet, your managed to write a well-documented and interesting essay. I appreciate the playful style. I also agree that from time to time at least it is important to try to conceptualize more what we do.

Good luck,

Cristi Stoica

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Sergey G Fedosin wrote on Oct. 4, 2012 @ 07:39 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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Peter Jackson wrote on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 22:45 GMT

I hope you may still read, absorb and comment on my essay. I did enjoy yours, and think it deserved a higher place, but this years competition runs deep. None the less a high score from me.

Best wishes


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Anonymous wrote on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 00:23 GMT
Thank you Peter,

Your thoughtfulness is appreciated. So that I may finish reading and rating papers all the papers I can, before the cutoff, detailed comments will have to wait. Be assured yours was included in those I read.

All the Best,


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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 00:35 GMT
I wrote that.


Author Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 03:30 GMT
Hello All,

I wanted to thank everyone participating for a very lively contest and conversation. If you have time for just one more essay, I would recommend this one Cherished Assumptions and the Progress of Physics, To everyone who reads this; the best of luck.



Author Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Oct. 6, 2012 @ 14:50 GMT
Hi Folks,

My gratitude to FQXi, Scientific American, the Gruber foundation and Submeta. I am glad I could be a participant in this contest. At this point; I would like to congratulate all who made it into the finals. Since displayed rankings changed between midnight and morning, I am not certain whether my essay is among that number, or just below the cutoff, but I realize that it was a close race near the top - so I am privileged to be among the uncertain few.

I thank everyone who took the time to read my essay, and I am thankful I took the time to read so many of yours.

All the Best,


Author Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 02:01 GMT
My Thanks!

To all who gave me a high rating, you have my appreciation. It is my pleasure to be in this contest with you, and to still be in the game. I will continue to field any questions that come my way, and to actively participate on the pages of many of the other essay writers. So feel free to comment or ask questions here.

I only got to read about one fifth of the total number, but I made a special effort to read and rate the essay of every visitor to this page. I hope that by giving some of you high ratings, I added to your overall rankings to give you the attention you deserve. I shall continue to read and comment, so long as there is an interest in discussion on these pages.

All the Best,


Rick Lockyer wrote on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 16:35 GMT

Congratulations on a well written finalist essay. Your insights have justly been rewarded. Good luck in the final process.


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Member Ian Durham wrote on Oct. 8, 2012 @ 17:01 GMT
Hi Jonathan,

Sorry again for taking so long to get to your essay. At any rate, I enjoyed it and had a few comments. Regarding the cosmological theories you discuss on the second page, I think that for all theories, the question is how well they work with other theories. I look at it this way. Physics should aim to explain the world in the most complete but simplest manner possible. So it is often a balance between simpler v. more encompassing. That said, when presented with competing theories that are essentially equivalent in what they encompass, I see no reason not to go with the simpler theory.

I thought you had some excellent points to make, notably that we should not conflate simplifying assumptions with predictions and I particularly liked what you had to say about space and dimensionality (and I tend to agree - it makes little sense to talk of dimensionality in completely empty space as it has no meaning). I also agree with your point about entropy and have long tried to make the same point myself (it's interesting that you mentioned Sean Carroll's take on that since it was a bone of contention at the FQXi meeting last year, though not one captured on all the conference videos).

I'm not sure I understand, though, your comment that we should stop looking to unify the forces and start observing how nature is already unified. In my mind, those are the same things. I don't particularly agree with the current field-theoretic approach since it is largely predicated on a non-emergent spacetime, but I still think it is, to some extent, "observational" (string theory being the potential exception).

My only other criticism is that I'm not sure I saw a convergence of your ideas to a single answer to the posed essay question. Rather it seemed more of a general critique of how science operates. While valid, I wonder if it wasn't a bit too general.

Anyway, nice essay though.



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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Oct. 9, 2012 @ 03:16 GMT
Thanks Ian,

Good comments all.

My point regarding unification was mainly that we need to assume the unification of fundamental entities already exists in nature, in order to find it. It is absolutely accurate that crafting a solution to the problem of unification and finding out how nature has unified reality at some fundamental level are exactly the same.

I think the statement you cite was probably my advocacy of Osheroff's ideas on scientific advancement I'd cited earlier in the paper - that we should enter the process with open minds (after making our best guesses) and see what nature shows us. But he is, after all, an experimentalist and not a theoretical physicist. I obviously believe it's OK to 'peer behind the curtain,' though, by crafting theories that attempt to reproduce the form we observe in nature.

But I agree that I did too much casting about, in this paper, talking about one questionable notion after another - without a clear theme to tie it all together. Be assured there actually is a unifying theme, however, which I am developing behind the scenes. I have a paper in progress, using many of this essay's points as stepping stones. I will inform you when it is published.

All the Best,


Thomas Howard Ray replied on Oct. 9, 2012 @ 14:09 GMT
It's not that I think Ian's criticism is not valid -- it's that what he considers a weakness, I consider a strength. The point was strongly made in the beginning (Osheroff) and throughout that good science is theory-driven; in the immortal words of Yogi Berra, "If you don't know where you're going, you might end up somewhere else."

So I think that in itself does question the foundations of physics, along with the foundations of science itself. One sees a hearty dose of inductive reasoning, in these fora and elsewhere, from those who would replace theory with experimental data. Is that a good idea? Definitely, a foundational question.


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Jonathan Kerr wrote on Oct. 9, 2012 @ 18:38 GMT
Hello Jonathan,

Well done, and good luck in the finals...

I see you say that you'll continue to read and comment - thanks, (there's certainly interest in discussion from my end, if you feel there's reason to discuss anything - but far from essential). Ben Dribus posted this about my essay on my page:

"I think your essay is right on target, and it rates very high in my opinion", and some others made similar comments.

Anyway, best wishes, Jonathan

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Author Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Nov. 28, 2012 @ 04:18 GMT
Hello to all,

While I have remained available for questions here, I have not seen any, but I have made several comments about questions raised on other essay forum pages, and raised a few of my own. So those who wanted comments from me can find plenty elsewhere on the FQXi site. However; I want to take this opportunity to thank everybody who read my essay and commented, as well as the folks who had exchanges with me on other pages - and have not gotten here yet.

As this year's contest draws to a close, I wanted to again thank FQXi, Scientific American, the Gruber Foundation, and Submeta, for providing the means for this event to take place. I am still a bit surprised I made it into the finals, given all of the high-quality essays I read from other entrants. There were at least twice as many essays that deserve top-tier placement as were allowed, and some folks who did not qualify - despite the high score I gave them - wrote essays I liked better than mine. So I am humbly grateful for your support.

I just want folks to know that this has been a learning experience for me, and that I have used the opportunities afforded by this contest to further my Physics research in many areas. My essay may seem like a laundry list of my pet peeves and favorite answers, but it is actually almost entirely about a single line of research - a theory to which I alluded time after time without actually stating the details. I was admittedly testing the waters with bits and pieces of my ideas - but you may rest assured that I have a big picture in mind.

Over the coming months; you will see some of the ideas in my essay linked up into a single congruent thread. And since what I am doing is linking up the learning process and the creative process, this seems quite appropriate for the FQXi major grant offering for the current cycle. So with luck, and quite a lot of work preparing; I'll be among the people applying for those grants. I'll say more about my proposal in another post below - at some point.

All the Best,


Paul Reed wrote on Nov. 28, 2012 @ 10:28 GMT

I will pick up a few threads:

1 “For Physics to advance; we must set assumptions aside…”

Attempting to start from no assumptions, which is impossible, is about as bad as starting from flawed ones. The start point must be how is existence detected and hence, generically, how does that (ie physical existence) occur. If you went to woodwork classes, you...

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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Nov. 28, 2012 @ 16:05 GMT
Oh well,

My reply appears as a new item below, Paul, but I'll continue the thread where it makes sense later. Gotta go now, though.


Author Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Nov. 28, 2012 @ 16:01 GMT
Wow Paul,

That's a meaty post indeed, which I will have to address in installments. For the record; I do make some assumptions in my schema, but I assert that 'how is existence detected' is NOT a starting place. Rather; we start from oneness or indistinguishability, and detection of existence is a product of openness - which is properly the SECOND stage of our process of learning about reality. That is; we must start from where we are, and until we make and test some assumptions (albeit non-verbal ones), the object-observer distinction does not appear.

Specifically; we start from a unified state where we make no distinction between ourselves and our environment or surroundings, but this is quickly forgotten or glossed over, once we arrive at the stage of objectified consciousness and symbolic reasoning. Nor is the subject-object distinction an obvious and natural one, but is rather the product of the structure and syntax of Western language.

In Chinese; everything is viewed as a process or story, and individual characters (at least in their original calligraphic forms) spell out the story of how that character came to be constructed. In the Algonquin languages, there is no word for time, which is the title of a book by my friend Evan Pritchard. So I reject your start point as false - given that one must make four or five assumptions before arriving at your starting gate.

I make no hard distinction between myself and the universe, but it is uncommon for people to reject the assumption that we and it are distinct from one another. If this is obviously so, as you suggest later in your post, then it invalidates your statement about what our starting point must be. Somehow; the fact that object constancy was learned so early in our lives makes this the most deeply hidden assumption, and one of the hardest to unlearn.

More later,


Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Nov. 28, 2012 @ 19:26 GMT
A correction:

In the last paragraph above, it should state "if the illusory nature of separateness and isolation is obvious" which you affirm, then "how is existence detected" is not primary, and your claim that is where we must start is shown to be invalid. In the space below, I try to explain why in more detail.

Sorry to get caught up in the very first point, but this subtlety (or elucidating the process of how we get to your starting point) is a crucial part of my theory.



Paul Reed replied on Nov. 29, 2012 @ 09:39 GMT

“Rather; we start from oneness or indistinguishability…”

You cannot do so, because you are part of it. There’s an echo in there of another human presumption that is ontologically incorrect, ie we are separate from existence. The start point incidentally is not detection, it is: there is existence, then, so how do we know that, which leads to, by sensory detection,...

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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Nov. 29, 2012 @ 20:22 GMT
Hi Paul,

To avoid truncation and disappearing messages, I acknowledge your comment here and reply below.


Author Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Nov. 28, 2012 @ 19:10 GMT
Hello again,

I am going to say a little more about the unified state. If we seek to have a unifying theory of nature; it seems proper or best to assume that nature, or natural law and the universe, are already unified - and to seek or discover the ways unifying principles are expressed in specific observable forms. As you point out; our observations are a separate issue and should not be confused with what actually exists. But this does not keep a child from crying out when you put his or her toys away, or when Mommy goes into the next room. An infant needs to learn that Mommy and toys still exist, even when they can't be seen or touched. And this is a big lesson! It is NOT a given; it is something that must be learned and is thereafter assumed.

It is now known that neonatal infants do not distinguish between themselves and their surroundings or environment. On some level this is a survival instinct, because they are absolutely vulnerable, and they are subject to the prevailing conditions where they are - with no real freedom of choice. But on the other hand, infants enjoy a happy state; so far as they are concerned, they are the universe. Once object constancy is grasped, and especially once they are mobile and have had a chance to observe, explore, and compare - over and over again - they gradually develop a sense of what separation is. Still later, after more of same, and variations on the theme of exploration; there emerges an ability to put things in perspective - so that a sense of size and distance emerges.

According to DeLoache, this usually happens around two and a half years of age; but it is only at that time that children develop the capacity for symbolic thinking. I believe these two are causally linked, where being able to put things in perspective, and developing a sense of dimensionality for objects and spaces, are essential to having the mental structures that support symbolic thought. But it seems obvious to me that a whole slew of assumptions are made by children, and a whole lot of learning has taken place - before we get to that point. By that juncture, it is clear that a sense of separation has developed, but that is not the whole story. According to Jill Bolte Taylor; our right brain is continuing to present us with the unified state, at all times, even into adulthood - but once the left brain becomes dominant we learn to block that awareness out.

All the Best,


Paul Reed replied on Nov. 29, 2012 @ 09:55 GMT

All this is irrelevant. As I keep pointing out to Georgina and others, I am not interested in the subsequent processing of physical input received. This is unfortunately(!) another layer of grief which just gets in the way of discerning physical existence. It does of course need to be understood, but it is not physics.

There are physically existent phenomena (aka light, noise, vibration, etc) which can be received if the receptor of the appropriate sensory system (aka eye, ear, etc) is in the line of travel. Upon reception those phenomena cease to exist. They were created by a physical interaction with other physically existent phenomena (what is commonly referred to as reality). We want to know, what was received, and on the basis of how that works, what was intereacted with to cause it. Obviously, so we all don't go mad, we can then simplify this for most occasions, but one can only do that properly, and concsiously, having first understood what is happening existentially.

Stick to the physics!


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Georgina Parry replied on Nov. 29, 2012 @ 20:34 GMT
Hi Jonathan,

I think you are making an important point. That our normal perception of the way things are is due to the development of the brain and its capacity to make sense of the sensory data it receives from the environment.

However , you wrote: "It is now known that neonatal infants do not distinguish between themselves and their surroundings or environment." I wonder whether that is a false notion based upon attempted interpretation of responses. There is not yet the ability to read a newborn's mind.

Like a number of other people, I have retained some pre-birth and very early life memories. My personal realisation of the limits of my existence occurred in utero. Prior to that I was self aware but with no perceived spatial limits. I can't of course prove that, but I do know it. I presume the transition in awareness was around the same time as the nerves from my fingers and toes began sending sensory impulses to the brain, which could be interpreted by it as being from my extremities. So subsequent to a certain level of development of the nervous system. I was most definitely aware of my separateness and individuality and the separateness and individuality of other people in my local environment at the time of birth.

Jill Bolte Taylor's video is very interesting giving an account of a perspective that thankfully relatively few of us get to experience. I.e. To have conscious awareness of the unprocessed (,or ill / under processed) sensory data input during a stroke. It is good evidence of the 'division' between the material world and the image that we have of it. Which provokes the question -what is each area of physics modelling? The perceived image, the sensory data, or the material sources of data.

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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Nov. 29, 2012 @ 21:06 GMT
Perhaps not quite irrelevant Paul.

If Georgina and I have pointed out that you are doing a bit too much pre-filtering or pre-processing - which we do not confuse with the issue of subsequent processing as you seemingly do. Come on Paul; you are trying to ride a dead horse. You are a victim perhaps of a confirmation bias, but one which somehow locks out the continuous aspect of reality described in the papers I cited by Zeh, and highlighted in the article by David Tong in the December Scientific American, which was one of last year's FQXi contest essays.

A comment in Sci Am about the way things turned out last year focused on there being more writers who favored an analog view than expected. But trying to push objective materialism on theoretical physicists as you do, gets a bit stale. I appreciate that you bring the conversations down to Earth sometimes, and help to keep things real. But to assert that Physics should stick to describing only that portion of reality that adheres to objective realism, is somehow a bit unrealistic IMO. I will try to focus more on the Physics, but if some pre-conditioning on your part (or mine) makes important or relevant points appear irrelevant, the reasons why our views differ must be examined - before we can determine it to be a perceptual matter or about the Physics.



Author Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Nov. 29, 2012 @ 20:25 GMT
Let me make it simple.

A circle has an interior and an exterior separated by a topological distinction - a boundary. Its mathematical definition is simple too - r equals a constant (one perhaps), where r is the radius of the circle. But of course; that same definition also designates a whole family of figures we call spheres. If we have an empty space, absent of topological form - an unbroken expanse - this is a different animal. Placing an observer anywhere in that expanse, as pointed out by Tom Ray in his essay, induces a sense of toward and away; I like to say that observation is centric, and so nearby and distant become defined in relation to a particular center - the location of the observer.

If we trace on an empty piece of paper, all of the points equidistant from a given center, we end up with a circle. I like circles, and they were one of the first conscious symbols employed by our ancestors, but they are also the simplest possible example of a figure with a continuous boundary, where the one-dimensional version is a pair of points - which is not continuous. Remember the definition for a unit circle - r equals one. That formula also defines the unit sphere - but it is not a trivial matter that all of the higher-order spheres are defined likewise.

Let me explain. In constructive geometry nothing is assumed to exist, besides an unbroken space of unknown dimension, until some (constructive) process of determination allows a statement to be made. A very cool thing is that constructive proofs actually allow you to construct the object under study, so they are very useful both to humans and to nature - assuming only that natural evolution makes sense logically/geometrically. But I would argue that the universe we observe didn't just happen, so Physics MUST consider how observable form first came to be.

I'll continue below,


Paul Reed replied on Nov. 30, 2012 @ 08:13 GMT

“In constructive geometry nothing is assumed to exist, besides an unbroken space of unknown dimension”

But is this a proper representation of physical existence? Because we do not know that ‘nothing exists’. What we do know is that there is ‘stuff’, of different types, and depending on what we define, then there is ‘space or ‘distance’ between those...

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Author Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Nov. 29, 2012 @ 20:27 GMT
From a cognitive perspective;

We come into the world with few or no assumptions, and a fuzzy perception of ourselves and the universe. At birth; we have no clear sense of self and other, or location and surroundings. Clearly, any one infant occupies a specific location, has a well-defined topological boundary, and so forth. But there is some evidence that neonatals do not distinguish between self and others or environment, and perceive all of it as a continuum. In this way; they start with an unbroken reality of unknown dimension, just like constructive geometers.

One could draw an analogy to algebraic rules. Determining what is part of, or inside of, what (interiority/exteriority) is like learning the associative property, and determining what is bigger/smaller and nearer/farther is like learning the commutative property. Interestingly; while rotations on the surface are commutative (so the illusion is complete) 3-d rotations are not - so children born in space might grow up with an intimate knowledge and visceral understanding of non-commutative geometry.

Anyhow; I boldly assert that the process by which we learn about nature and the process by which nature created the form we see around us is one and the same. That is; in any creative process or any learning process, levels of abstraction need to be evolved or unfolded, and procedural steps and/or process stages need to be realized. One could say that possibilities lead to actualities, but then specific actualities make new things possible or evident. In my view; this scheme describes both bits of knowledge or perceptions and bits of structure or objects.

I'll talk about how that answers 'what 4 or 5 assumptions?' in more detail next.


Georgina Parry replied on Nov. 29, 2012 @ 21:15 GMT

I have disagreed with your portrayal of the newborn's cognition following your earlier reply to Paul. However I am not disagreeing with the important point you are making about the necessity of learning about geometry and spatial relations of things. That growing cognition goes along with development of motor skills to interact with the environment, exploring, experimenting and building mental models.

I was looking for the sensory deprivation experiment done on kittens, who were shown only vertical lines, resulting in a kind of blindness to horizontal lines presented later on. Found This- Slideshow re. Perception I think that summary clearly shows that the mental models that are built, though enabling us to function well in our environment, are not infallible representations of the external material reality.

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Author Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Nov. 29, 2012 @ 21:30 GMT
Thanks for this!

Gotta go now, though.

All the Best,


Paul Reed replied on Nov. 30, 2012 @ 08:21 GMT

I think it is sufficient to say that this all concerns processing-see above.

On the subject of my supposed 4 or 5 assumptions, I have somewhat pr-empted that with a restatment of the argument above, though I did react to some of your original articulation as to what you thought my presumptions were.

Anyway.....but do remember, we have to start somewhere, so one cannot just declare it a presumption because it was the start point, as such. And, as I said previously, what is more important is, does it work and do hypotheses based on alternatives not work?


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Author Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Nov. 30, 2012 @ 05:27 GMT
Hi Folks,

I see the contest is drawing to a close. However; it has been and remains engaging for me to interact here on the FQXi forum, especially on this and your other essay pages. I expect to be available to respond to questions and comments for some time, but I apologize if it takes a little longer. I'll treat any honest queries and comments respectfully, including any open threads of conversations above.

This year's topic was one I felt especially well suited to answer, having posed it as a suggestion for last year's contest. Or rather; FQXi chose an essay question that was a variation on one I'd suggested. You can read the story of my experiences at CCC-2 in the essay, to learn why I did so. It was there I first learned that just changing one or two key assumptions can completely alter the face of cosmology and our picture of the universe.

Two other entrants in this contest - Avtar Singh and Don Wilson - also attended that conference, so they know whereof I speak. But I've since attended talks by some of the respected founders of our current view - like Paul Steinhardt - who now assert that we need to question some of our key assumptions in cosmology very seriously, because otherwise there are gaping holes in the fabric of our knowledge about the cosmos. So I commend FQXi for choosing a wonderful question that let such a great number of participants tell the story a different way.



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