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Mark Feeley: on 10/7/12 at 20:34pm UTC, wrote Ben, Thanks a lot for the comments and good luck as you go forward. ...

Benjamin Dribus: on 10/4/12 at 19:29pm UTC, wrote Dear Mark, I enjoyed your essay! You have sound ideas, an excellent...

Sergey Fedosin: on 10/4/12 at 6:44am UTC, wrote If you do not understand why your rating dropped down. As I found ratings...

Sergey Fedosin: on 10/2/12 at 11:18am UTC, wrote After studying about 250 essays in this contest, I realize now, how can I...

Hoang Hai: on 9/26/12 at 8:00am UTC, wrote Dear Mark Feeley I like : "I have argued that atomism is logically flawed...

Eckard Blumschein: on 9/25/12 at 6:54am UTC, wrote Hi Mark, "... given the essay topic, all of the essays are highly...

Hoang Hai: on 9/19/12 at 13:56pm UTC, wrote Dear Very interesting to see your essay. Perhaps all of us are convinced...

Constantinos Ragazas: on 9/18/12 at 3:26am UTC, wrote Hello Mark Feeley, Thank you for your essay. You have raised a question...

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FQXi FORUM
June 20, 2019

CATEGORY: Questioning the Foundations Essay Contest (2012) [back]
TOPIC: An Ancient Error by Mark Feeley [refresh]

Author Mark Feeley wrote on Aug. 21, 2012 @ 14:29 GMT
Essay Abstract

The most fundamental error in physics is the ancient idea of atomism. This essay demonstrates why this so, considers aspects of the research program to exorcise atomism from physics, and examines the benefits of physics without atomism.

Author Bio

I received a Bachelors degree in Engineering Physics (UBC, 1980). I worked for roughly 2 years as a physicist (Research Associate, UBC). In 1982, I changed directions to work as an electrical engineer, first designing telecom IC's, then managing design programs, and later in business development. In 1999, I co-founded a venture telecom company, which was sold in 2005. After a period working on other start-up ventures, I decided in 2009 to return to the independent study of physics.

Peter Jackson wrote on Aug. 21, 2012 @ 19:15 GMT
Mark

Enjoyable, but can we really exist without the ancient atoms? I agree, even with your suggested unpopular formulation, as my own essay reveals, as it has impeccable logic once free of 'belief'.

I loved both your style and content. I have proposed Boscovich's 'spheres of influence' around mass extends to limits of other sphere's and equivalence to Einstein's 'matter is spatially extended.' The space belongs to the nearest /dominant system of matter, and is bounded by the means to implement the effects we attribute to GR SR and QM. My own essay explains, kinetically, and I hope you may read and comment.

Vladimir Tamari may suggest demolishing the whole structure from foundation up, and he has a point. The Shard proved we can rebuild both up and down at the same time, so this is my own choice.

My previous essay also described what you term as; "two boundary conditions imposed on the field by emission and absorption events, which create a

quantization of the field between them." Tjhis is at the hart of my essay, and the definition of a real physical local and mutually exclusive (shock!) inertial frames. Again Boscovich first found no two entities can occupy the same space. I find simply that no one entity can be assigned two states of motion.

Astonishingly I believe application of this gives the unification you precisely identify. Please do comment on the mechanism I describe.

Excellent essay. I was honoured to read it first. I feared the baby was leaving with the bathwater, but it did not slip your firm grasp.

Best of luck.

Peter

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Mark Feeley replied on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 16:38 GMT
Peter,

Yes, I do think we can get by without the ancient idea of atoms, and not only atoms, but the related idea of a space which exists without anything in it. Furthermore, as I argued in the essay, I think we might well make a good bit of progress without the idea.

You asked a question regarding your own proposal, and while I know that a short essay cannot capture the full extent of a theory, I will try to offer a few thoughts. The essence of your proposal, if I read it correctly, is that the speed of light is not constant, but is still always observed to be constant in any reference frame, based on a mechanism which you sketch. I can see two concerns. First, constancy of wave speed in linear and isotropic media seems to be a perfectly natural phenomena, so a constant speed of light seems like a pretty reasonable proposition and actually seems to be the simplest possible assumption, so I am not immediately convinced of the necessity to make any more complex assumptions. The next issue I can see is that your theory may not ever be falsifiable and might not make new predictions that are not obtainable with existing theory. Or course, given the essay topic, all of the essays are highly speculative and focus on possibilities of an idea rather than its problems, and so all of the essays (including my own) suffer from the same issue to a fairly high degree. I guess it is incumbent on any of us who propose ideas to try to suggest why the idea might be wrong, rather than why it might be right (although I admit we probably won't go overboard with suggestions why the idea is wrong within the context of an essay contest). So, while your idea is obviously possible, I can't really make a comment on the exact mechanism you propose without a clearer mathematical background or without some suggestion as to the ways in which this theory might eventually differ from conventional theory. Sorry if that doesn't answer your question, but that's the best I can do on a first read.

Thanks again for your kind comments, and good luck to you in the contest and in your work, Mark

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Peter Jackson replied on Aug. 23, 2012 @ 12:08 GMT
Mark

You manage to assimilate the kinetic relationships proposed well, unlike most it seems. Thank you. I address your 'concerns';

1. "constancy of wave speed in linear and isotropic media seems to be a perfectly natural phenomena, so a constant speed of light seems like a pretty reasonable proposition."

Agreed entirely. The 'frame boundary' conditions we discuss are all anisotropic, i.e. at the dense (ion) shocks around magnetospheres, and at refractive planes (inc. surfaces of ALL lenses). Obviously a different assumption is then required.

2. "The next issue I can see is that your theory may not ever be falsifiable and might not make new predictions that are not obtainable with existing theory."

Again a very fair point. Luckily it seems to be about the most eminently falsifiable theory that ever existed! I've just posted a long response on this on Robert Oldershaws essay blog so I hope you can pop over and read it.

Take for instance the kinetic reverse refraction (KRR) I discuss in the essay. this is unexplainable under current theory, but predicted precisely by the DFM, which is the only way to recover Snels law, otherwise violated by KRR. It is resolved because light changes speed by two independent factors; 1. By n to c/n for any static medium, and by relative v to c/n (Kinetically) to account for any media co-motion. The KRR is what shows up the kinetic element - so is apparent as local c when viewed by an observer at rest in the new medium frame. The Kerr effects (SMOKE etc) also at last emerge consistently.

I could go on ad infinitum, but do pick a topic to see what emerges. And check out the maths in the end notes. (lambda changes on the transform, not the wave function or any notional 'partial time derivative').

Checking out and better interpreting shock magnetohydrodynamic turbulence is also an eye opener.

Do ask any more questions or raise doubts. (A slower re-read of the essay seems essential).

Thanks

Peter

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Eckard Blumschein replied on Sep. 25, 2012 @ 06:54 GMT
Hi Mark,

"... given the essay topic, all of the essays are highly speculative and focus on possibilities of an idea rather than its problems, ..."

I speculate that there are possibly foundational mistakes to be found. This would of course include the option that you are right. When I decided to favor 1296, this was just a guess of mine.

Regards,

Eckard

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Frank Makinson wrote on Aug. 21, 2012 @ 19:54 GMT
Mark,

A new foundation is definitely needed. One of my mentors, now deceased, a Prof Emeritus of Electrical Engineering, stated, "We are all a specialized form of energy."

Your final sentence in section 4, "It really does not seem possible to unify quantum theory with gravity until quantum theory is much more coherent and indeed to some degree more "classicized", and a real monist field theory offers the possibility of progress on both fronts."

A couple of gentleman "classicized" gravity in papers they prepared in 2004. One paper was titled, "Electrifying Gravity", the other, which was prepared in parallel, "Newton's Gravitation Constant G as a Quantum Coupling Constant".

Electrifying Gravity

Newton's Quantum Coupling Constant

My essay, 1294, is much mathematically simpler than the above papers, it identifying a methodology that allows the sizes of two geometric structures to be mutually defined without needing to specify even one size ahead of time.

However, a paper that I considered not yet in a form suitable for this essay contest, contains the descriptions of an electromagnetic field structure that accounts for all the characteristics of gravity. I like the term "classicized", as my paper titled, "The helical structure of the electromagnetic gravity field", relies solely on classical physics.

Helical EM Gravity Field

I do not expect those that are dependent upon their livelihoods to abandon the current curved space-time gravity paradigm, but the above links provide seed ideas for a new foundation that can influence new generations of scientists.

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Mark Feeley replied on Aug. 22, 2012 @ 16:59 GMT
Frank,

Thanks for your comments. I will have a look at the works you suggest.

However, I must disagree with a suggestion in the last paragraph of your post. As I said in may essay, I think that physicists, including both professionals and amateurs, are wonderfully open to new ideas. Really, I think that physicists are perhaps the group of people most open to unconventional ideas and this essay topic and the range of contributions to the contest is a testament to that openness.

Thanks again and good luck, Mark

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Karl Coryat wrote on Aug. 23, 2012 @ 00:11 GMT
I wholeheartedly agree that atomism is a deeply problematic assumption. However, I'd argue that your conclusions don't go far enough. In my essay (topic/1286) I argue that it isn't just atoms, but objects altogether that need to be expunged from the fundamental picture. This includes fields and waves, which become emergent along with atoms in an "it from bit" world.

I fear that atomism is so deeply ingrained, a true it-from-bit picture (totally free of fundamental objects) is extremely hard to wrap one's brain around. But in the end it may be the one that ultimately triumphs.

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Mark Feeley replied on Aug. 24, 2012 @ 16:53 GMT
Karl,

Thanks very much for reading and commenting.

It would probably take at least another complete essay to argue against an entirely "it from bit" picture, so I can't really do the discussion justice, but I'll try nevertheless.

I certainly agree that information theory has a role to play in any new unified theory. Indeed, as I argue in the essay, in any theory where we...

view entire post

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Karl Coryat replied on Aug. 27, 2012 @ 21:49 GMT
Mark, thank you for the thoughtful reply. I just think that a world made of separate epistemic and ontic layers, like a world made up of atoms (or of advancing and retarded waves or what have you), is too complicated a fundamental description than it needs to be to account for observations. That is the key, I believe: What is the *simplest-case description* that can effectively account for observations and make the most useful predictions? I would bet that it isn't atoms, and it isn't dualism etc., but something that seems far more radical to our object-oriented tastes. I would also argue that just because a physical theory may share superficial traits with a vaguely developed and unsuccessful metaphysics of centuries past -- solipsism -- such resemblance should not, in and of itself, warrant its outright dismissal. (There has been some discussion regarding the solipsism question on my essay page.) Best of luck in the competition.

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DANIEL WAGNER FONTELES ALVES wrote on Aug. 23, 2012 @ 16:33 GMT
Dear Mark,

Your essay is very interesting and I think Parmenides ideas could drive actual theoretical innovations.

''The concept of atomism entered physics nearly 2500 years ago, when physics was really only protophysics [1]. Atomism rests on the dual planks of matter and space, and is very simply summarized as the idea that there exist indivisible particles of matter (atoms) separated by, and moving in, the void (space). In the atomist program, matter and space both exist, each cannot exist without the other, and both are separate and distinct.''

These old ideas had a proeminent role in the absolute vs relative debate about the nature of motion (see Barbour´s ''The discovery of dynamics'') and thus still have a big impact in physics and in our intuitive world view. I think the idea of having a distinct ''first metaphysical assumption'' may produce new physics, as I argue in my essay Absolute or Relative Motion...Or Something Else?.

However, I disagree when you say Parmenides quote is undeniable:

"Parmenides stated his opposition to the central idea that matter and space exist and are distinct, and the nature of his argument against atomism exposes the first ontological problem of physics. He asserts that the void does not exist, since it does not make sense to say that nothing is something: "It needs must be that what can be thought and spoken of is; for it is possible for it to be, and it is not possible for what is nothing to be."

The essence of his argument can be restated as "That which is, is. That which is not, is not." Phrased in this way, this is a logical tour de force - stark, beautiful, and unforgiving. Who would wish to defend the counter-propositions of "That which is not, is" or "That which is, is not" on any sort of logical grounds? The counter-propositions are in fact utterly indefensible and are all too easily mocked. We really have no choice but to accept Parmenides assertion that the void ("that which is not") does not exist."

I find this rather vague, and can´t see why the denial of atomism is a question of logical necessity. However, the idea of abandoning atomism (and background space with it) from the start could render a radically different mathematical structure to physics, and thus drive new theoretical paths.

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Joe Fisher wrote on Aug. 24, 2012 @ 15:57 GMT
Dear Mark Feeley,

This is the clearest essay about the science of physics I have ever read. As I have pointed out in my essay Sequence Consequence, it is physically impossible for real identical or imaginary concepts of objects to ever exist. I think the problem with atomism, (or fundamental particles or waves) is that they can only be graphically depicted as being seemingly identical, or by use of a repeatable identical mathematical symbol. In the one real Universe that is occurring once in one real dimension, real opposite states attract once, real similar states abide eternally, and real states on the point of becoming identical, after first exchanging most of their constituencies, merge into a new real state that has never existed before.

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Mark Feeley replied on Aug. 24, 2012 @ 16:58 GMT
Joe,

Mark

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Joe Fisher replied on Aug. 24, 2012 @ 17:43 GMT
Clearly, the abstract mathematical symbols 1 and 0 are opposite in nature and therefore attractive to contemplate. Indubitably, the symbolic mathematical symbols 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8, and 9 are sufficiently similar for them to abide. Unlike events in the real Universe that are always unique and new, mathematicians insist that all of the symbolic numbers are identical in value and appearance. Because of this logical misrepresentation, mathematicians cannot calculate the duration of real now and the extent of real here.

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John Merryman wrote on Aug. 27, 2012 @ 04:03 GMT
Mark,

I also thank you for presenting a logically deep argument, without resorting to mathematical shorthand, of which some of us are less than proficient.

While I agree atomism is conceptually limited, though in line with historical western object oriented assumptions, I wouldn't go so far as to do away with space and have problems with monism.

Space does provide us with...

view entire post

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Yuri Danoyan wrote on Aug. 27, 2012 @ 04:17 GMT
Mark

I think it is time to rehabilitate Parmenides

See my essay http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/1413

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Jeff Baugher wrote on Aug. 27, 2012 @ 16:13 GMT
Mark,

Great essay! There are quite a few essays on here that have much in common. Have you read CM Hahn's essay? I very much agree with most of your essay, but I would point out an exception.

In 4.1.General relativity without atomism, you state "Interestingly, despite Einstein's inherent atomist bent, general relativity is not fundamentally an atomist theory and really needs no adaptation in order to remove atomism." which I would disagree with. The energy momentum tensor Tuv is based off of "particles" making up a perfect fluid. Thus one links Guv=Tuv with particles, however the cosmological constant magnitude is linked to quantum field theory and there is no mainstream way to make these two compatible. (Please check my essay to view how I think this can be accomplished) What I would state is more correct is to say that Riemannian geometry is not an atomist theory and really needs to adaptation.

Regards,

Jeff Baugher

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Yuri Danoyan wrote on Aug. 29, 2012 @ 05:01 GMT
Mark

We belong the same confession http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pythagore

See http://vixra.org/abs/0907.0012

http://vixra.org/abs/0907.0014

fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/1413

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Nainan K. Varghese wrote on Aug. 30, 2012 @ 20:46 GMT
Dear Mark,

A very good essay.

“we should require a field theory wherein the field is all that exists and wherein the field should define anything that we might call space rather than reside in a pre-existing space – a background independent field theory”

As we live in material world and matter is the only substance we know, I would like to add that the proposed field is formed by matter. A real material field (with definite form, structure and ability to act), filling space in its entirety can substitute for currently-used functional space (without form or structure but with ability to act).

Thanks,

Nainan

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Mark Feeley replied on Aug. 31, 2012 @ 01:22 GMT
Nainan,

Thanks, for the comments. Your essay theme is indeed similar. Good luck to you.

Mark

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Anton Lorenz Vrba wrote on Aug. 30, 2012 @ 23:02 GMT
Mark,

Yes, the twin pillars GR and QM remain un-united as one or both are not true representations of nature.  You recognised that (and you have the courage to make very powerful statements) to criticise, in general, the ideas that emerge from the mainstream.

I look upon your "physics without atomism" as an abstract placeholder for "physics with alternate explanation" and not as a physical world without atoms. This way, your essay becomes a valuable contribution. I just hope the others see it this way too.

Regards and good luck

Anton @ (  /topic/1458  )

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Mark Feeley replied on Aug. 31, 2012 @ 01:52 GMT
Anton, thanks for reading and commenting.

Actually though, I do see physics without atomism as a physical world without atoms (which are quite distinguishable from field quanta, which we can certainly allow). Not only that, I also see physics without atomism as a physical world without a physical space which exists without matter in it - that is, without space as either a "theater of operations" or as an actor in its own right (although we may certainly allow spaces in the mathematical rather than physical sense). It really is only an argument for a background independent field theory, which is not really very outrageous - GR is already such a thing.

I think (at least I hope) that my essay explains clearly how physics, especially quantum theory and the process of unification, would benefit if we were to eliminate both localized particles and background physical space.

To relate a little to the theme of your essay, I would say that I do not think is sensible to say that empty space has a geometry. Empty space is the absence of anything, and therefore of any characteristics. We cannot travel 1 light-year through empty space, spend a fortnight in empty space, nor scoop up 2 cubic meters of empty space, nor for that matter even identify a point in empty space. I can certainly agree with the theme of your essay that new physics might require both new physical laws and new geometries, however I would simply argue that those laws and geometries should describe a continuum - a field - rather than a localized particles and space which somehow exists and has properties, even a geometry, without anything in it.

Best of luck and thanks again for commenting.

Mark

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Sergey G Fedosin wrote on Sep. 1, 2012 @ 14:02 GMT
Dear Mark

I quite agree with you that it is necessary to have an alternative to atomism. You think about a monistic field. Another idea is the Theory of Infinite Hierarchical Nesting of Matter as the matter of my Essay.

Sergey Fedosin Essay

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Anonymous wrote on Sep. 1, 2012 @ 18:18 GMT
That was an extremely great essay.

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Constantinos Ragazas wrote on Sep. 18, 2012 @ 03:26 GMT
Hello Mark Feeley,

Thank you for your essay. You have raised a question others instinctively avoid. I agree with you! I too think the 'particle view' that currently dominates physical theory and intuition is at the heart of many of the paradoxes of physics. This is the 'mind set' that has interjected 'photons' and 'discrete quanta' into modern physics; going back to Planck and Einstein more than 100 years ago.

In the Endnotes of my essay, “The Metaphysics of Physics”, I present a simple derivation of Planck's Law of blackbody radiation using only continuous processes and not statistics. This derivation shows that Planck's Law is actually a mathematical tautology describing the interaction of energy. And not some physical law based on the existence of 'energy quanta'. Furthermore, at the same endnotes I give a mathematical proof of the proposition: “if the speed of light is constant, then light propagates as a wave”. Thus showing the Photon Hypothesis of 'particles of light' is wrong!

I think you will enjoy reading my essay. I look forward to any comments you may have on it.

Best wishes,

Constantinos

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Hoang cao Hai wrote on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 13:56 GMT
Dear

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 - 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.

Regard !

Hải.Caohoàng of THE INCORRECT ASSUMPTIONS AND A CORRECT THEORY

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

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Hoang cao Hai wrote on Sep. 26, 2012 @ 08:00 GMT
Dear Mark Feeley

I like :

"I have argued that atomism is logically flawed and that its flaws continue to inhibit the development of physics."

would be great if you can specify the existing atomisms, a more specific way.

Regard !

Hải.Caohoàng of THE INCORRECT ASSUMPTIONS AND A CORRECT THEORY

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

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Sergey G Fedosin wrote on Oct. 2, 2012 @ 11:18 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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Sergey G Fedosin wrote on Oct. 4, 2012 @ 06:44 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
$R_1$
and
$N_1$
was the quantity of people which gave you ratings. Then you have
$S_1=R_1 N_1$
of points. After it anyone give you
$dS$
of points so you have
$S_2=S_1+ dS$
of points and
$N_2=N_1+1$
is the common quantity of the people which gave you ratings. At the same time you will have
$S_2=R_2 N_2$
of points. From here, if you want to be R2 > R1 there must be:
$S_2/ N_2>S_1/ N_1$
or
$(S_1+ dS) / (N_1+1) >S_1/ N_1$
or
$dS >S_1/ N_1 =R_1$
In other words if you want to increase rating of anyone you must give him more points
$dS$
then the participant`s rating
$R_1$
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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Member Benjamin F. Dribus wrote on Oct. 4, 2012 @ 19:29 GMT
Dear Mark,

I enjoyed your essay! You have sound ideas, an excellent historical perspective, and a pleasing command of the English language. A few thoughts come to mind.

1. The statement by Parmenides that you quote on page 2 might possibly be the earliest formulation of the principle of "background independence," which you cite on page 3. Thanks for pointing this out; I had no...

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Mark Feeley replied on Oct. 7, 2012 @ 20:34 GMT
Ben,

Thanks a lot for the comments and good luck as you go forward.

I think that the cause-effect picture and a continuum field picture are extremely closely connected. Before I wrote the essay I actually considered focusing the essay on the relationship between "events" and a continuum, but decided that some rationale for the continuum picture needed to be presented first.

I actually think that instead of neither continuum nor discrete, the answer is really more like both. This is essentially the idea that you refer to on in your 5th comment. If we consider both cause and effect to be "events", then causes and effects are necessarily countable or discrete entities. Conceptually however, an event picture requires two types of entities: events and connections between events. The follow-up question then is what is the nature of connections, and I have suggested that the connection between is a physical field, which we can indeed define in a background independent way. The relationship is even deeper though, and as I describe, suitably defined events can act as boundary conditions on the field and thus induce quantization effects in the field (in a quite classical way). Thus the cause-effect picture (what I would call the event picture) and a field picture are intimately and almost recursively connected. Both seem valid and necessary. I think it is a little easier to think of the field as more physical or "real" and the events as more abstract, but I admit this might really be nothing more than a naming convention or some sort of vague "realist" bias on my part.

Cheers and good luck, Mark

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