Search FQXi

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

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

Contests Home

Current Essay Contest

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

Previous Contests

Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability Essay Contest
December 24, 2019 - March 16, 2020
Contest Partners: Fetzer Franklin Fund, and The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

The Nature of Time
August - December 2008

Forum Home
Terms of Use

Order posts by:
 chronological order
 most recent first

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

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

 RSS feed | RSS help

Benjamin Dribus: on 10/5/12 at 5:35am UTC, wrote Dear Chris, This is an interesting idea. I have not thought about this...

Sergey Fedosin: on 10/4/12 at 6:05am UTC, wrote If you do not understand why your rating dropped down. As I found ratings...

Georgina Woodward: on 10/3/12 at 5:42am UTC, wrote Dear Chris, I found your essay to be making a very novel suggestion. I am...

Chris: on 9/21/12 at 18:17pm UTC, wrote Hi Peter, I did read your essay/paper and liked it. As you point out, there...

Peter Jackson: on 9/21/12 at 17:28pm UTC, wrote Chris The DNA structure emerges directly from a translating toroid, also...

Anonymous: on 9/12/12 at 15:07pm UTC, wrote Jonathan, I recognize that my ideas as not mainstream, but that's what...

Jonathan Dickau: on 9/12/12 at 2:25am UTC, wrote Hello again, Chris; Pulling Young's book off my shelf, and reading from...

Jonathan Dickau: on 9/12/12 at 1:22am UTC, wrote Hello Chris, Your essay was interesting and fun, and it does have an...


Lorraine Ford: "John, I would say that you need to think what you mean by “physical..." in Emergent Reality: Markus...

John Cox: "Lorraine, That clarifies, thanks. I'd be in the camp that argues for a..." in Emergent Reality: Markus...

Steve Dufourny: "We have a big philosophical problem with the strings and the photons like..." in Alternative Models of...

Steve Dufourny: "If my equation is correct, E=mc^2+Xl^2 , so how can we take this enormous..." in Alternative Models of...

Lorraine Ford: "Re "I tend to speed-read then review before scoring after reading a good..." in Undecidability,...

John Cox: "George, We shouldn't conflate contradiction with inconsistency. QM has a..." in Watching the Watchmen:...

John Cox: "Georgi, by and large I agree. Near the end of the discussion panel,..." in Watching the Watchmen:...

click titles to read articles

First Things First: The Physics of Causality
Why do we remember the past and not the future? Untangling the connections between cause and effect, choice, and entropy.

Can Time Be Saved From Physics?
Philosophers, physicists and neuroscientists discuss how our sense of time’s flow might arise through our interactions with external stimuli—despite suggestions from Einstein's relativity that our perception of the passage of time is an illusion.

A devilish new framework of thermodynamics that focuses on how we observe information could help illuminate our understanding of probability and rewrite quantum theory.

Gravity's Residue
An unusual approach to unifying the laws of physics could solve Hawking's black-hole information paradox—and its predicted gravitational "memory effect" could be picked up by LIGO.

Could Mind Forge the Universe?
Objective reality, and the laws of physics themselves, emerge from our observations, according to a new framework that turns what we think of as fundamental on its head.

January 21, 2020

CATEGORY: Questioning the Foundations Essay Contest (2012) [back]
TOPIC: Atomic by Chris Lisle [refresh]
Bookmark and Share
Login or create account to post reply or comment.

Author Chris Lisle wrote on Aug. 28, 2012 @ 15:16 GMT
Essay Abstract

This paper posits the idea that DNA on earth originated from a “memory” or “code” embedded in atoms. Although the originations of DNA cannot be proven as of yet, this idea deduces its originations based on what is currently known and can be observed using current technology.

Author Bio

I'm a 47 year old attorney fascinated with quantum theory and physics. I am married with three kids.

Download Essay PDF File

Bookmark and Share

Peter Jackson wrote on Aug. 29, 2012 @ 09:37 GMT

While your proposition seems unlikely to be recognised from a mainstream standpoint I have to say I agree entirely and indeed can even go a little further.

You say; "For all practical purposes, all atoms that exist have been around since the beginning of the universe."

If we assume the cyclic universe model, on the same basis as the quite well studied recycling of the matter in galaxies via Active Galactic Nucleus (AGN) accretion and ejection (Quasar jets), then the 'memory' encoded in the 'ion spin' may go back through any number of universes.

Cyclic models are not uncommon, and explain CMB anisotropy, although the Big Bang is still the ruling paradigm. Professor Robert Dicke formulated a sound one, as did others including the 'big bounce' and Penrose. I have one resolving issues with those and more consistent with recent findings here; The old is also mixed with fresh condensed matter to give the best new growth.

But of course most mainstream may consider such views warrant a visit by the men in white coats. I shall give yours a top 'community' score to help get it back up where it belongs for it's originality and honesty. In short supply in science. Please do also read and score my essay here, which gives very logical solutions to the problems of physics today, but again probably not recognizable to those with other embedded assumptions.

Perhaps most are better off not knowing anyway. What do you think?

Best wishes


Bookmark and Share
post approved

Chris Lisle replied on Aug. 29, 2012 @ 13:58 GMT
Peter, thanks for taking the time to read my essay. It is short and I'm sure controversial (but the contest was to question the fundamentals). I have always been perplexed as to why atoms form DNA chains. It has always surprised me that there is no scientific answer to the question. In fact, a few years ago I met with a local quantum physics professor to discuss the idea, and he honestly admitted "we don't know." The "theory" behind its formation (chemical reaction) isn't really theory, just scientific speculation. To me, the origination of DNA is an extremely important question that we must find an answer to. Thus, this is my attempt to answer the question - basically, they aren't empty vessels, they do carry information and act accordingly. I can't ascribe what encoded them or where that code comes from, but it is obvious they are acting according to a code and in fact we call it a code. I will read your essay and look forward to it.

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Chris Lisle replied on Aug. 29, 2012 @ 14:04 GMT
Peter, I meant to add that your cyclical view of the universe is more along my lines of thinking. I was a history major in college. In the past, humans had a cyclical view of history and thus the world they lived in (including the universe around them). The Greeks are but one example of a culture with a cyclical view of history. The linear view of the universe came later. Current culture has a linear view of history, and this cultural bias affects our view of religion and as you point out, since (big bang which begins at one point and goes on forever in opposite direction). Thus, I agree with your proposition that cultural bias affects fundamental beliefs about everything we "see" today, including science. Maybe there isn't a point of beginning? Tao thinkers didn't think so. And, if Einstein is correct, that time can be manipulated by speed of travel, then that supports the proposition that things aren't linear, but cyclical, as in a cyclical view any point in the circle can be reached from any other, but in a linear view, one cannot reach that which doesn't exist.

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Ted Erikson wrote on Aug. 29, 2012 @ 15:04 GMT

Nice focus on the "real" problem. I have proposed a scheme where conjoined mass and energy contain properties of emergentism and panpsychism as a probability, made permanent by repetitive cycling.

Perhaps you would review, and rate high?

Point of essay (vote high!, thanks) is based on

(1) Light "energy" seeks surface area of mass that mediates charge motions while

(2) Gravity is a content of mass phenomena that seeks time to exist by growth.

To Seek Unknown Shores

You obviously did not hold to FQXi guidelines, but your message is clear!

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Chris replied on Aug. 29, 2012 @ 15:51 GMT
Hi Ted, I will be glad to read your essay and thanks for taking the time to read and comment on mine. I hope to read all the essays, as they are all very fascinating to me. I certainly didn't intend to break any rules here.

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Peter Jackson wrote on Sep. 10, 2012 @ 13:41 GMT

I posted a while ago but it seems it was wafted away into cyberspace! I enjoyed your essay and agree there is a lot of sense in your thoughts, but particularly found parallells with my own work, which agrees some 'information' remains in re-ionized matter (we know all matter has been re-ionized within the last 10bn years).

I also here end up finding that the whole universe is re-ionised in a helical form!! which may be at ALL scales (i.e. the universe itself according to the evidence. It may be a more fun read that my essay, but I also added some theatre to that.

My essay deals with the fundamental implications in terms of unifying SR and QM. I hope you read it and can glean the, quite new view of the, kinetic mechanisms involved (I need some more community points!). Do please comment or ask questions, but just a 'skim' will miss all the value.

Best wishes


Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Peter Jackson wrote on Sep. 11, 2012 @ 14:17 GMT

A moving cycle forms a helix, a dipole a double helix. At rest it's a torus (see also Rick Kingsley Nixey's essay and last Fig. Views? Really bizarre my earlier posts above disappeared and have now returned. There are some spooky actions at a distance going on here!

Best wishes


Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Sep. 12, 2012 @ 01:22 GMT
Hello Chris,

Your essay was interesting and fun, and it does have an intriguing core notion, but it also contains some problematic points or factual errors. A single atom simply cannot store the full works of humanity, though the real minimum number is probably smaller than most people imagine. And yes; there is a lot of beauty coded in individual atoms and small molecules like water, so that every molecule encodes numberless snowflakes.

As Peter suggests; there can be carry-overs from another cycle - given that one assumes a cyclical universe scenario is reasonable or plausible. The idea certainly has a long history. But if there was a hot era or epoch, in the early cosmological history of the current cycle, that means atoms could only exist after decoupling, just as in the accepted picture. In fact; the term adopted by the mainstream 'recombination' seems to imply that atoms once existed.

You will find somewhat of a 'fit' to your concept or thesis in the theory of process advanced by Arthur Young in "The Reflexive Universe." His notions also suggest that individual atoms - once formed - are reaching to link up with others in more and more complex ways, with DNA being a logical goal of molecular evolution. But as Peter suggests; your idea is a bit far from the mainstream view - and the presentation would need to be cleaned up a bit to satisfy scholars or scientists.

all the best,


Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Sep. 12, 2012 @ 02:25 GMT
Hello again, Chris;

Pulling Young's book off my shelf, and reading from the chart in the middle of the book, for the Molecular kingdom; he suggests seven stages. They are:

Metals - metallic bond; Salts - ionic bond; Non-functional compounds - covalent bond; Functional compounds; Non-functional polymers; Functional polymers (e.g. proteins); DNA & viruses.

Is that something like what you are talking about?



Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Anonymous wrote on Sep. 12, 2012 @ 15:07 GMT

I recognize that my ideas as not mainstream, but that's what this process is all about right? Challenging the fundamentals. The heart of the problem is there is a lack of "fundamentals" regarding the formation of DNA, which is interesting to me, because until we understand how DNA is formed, then I would argue we really don't understand anything else, including our concept of...

view entire post

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Peter Jackson wrote on Sep. 21, 2012 @ 17:28 GMT

The DNA structure emerges directly from a translating toroid, also considered as a twin dipole moving along it's axis. But then it also emerges direct from the astrophysical jets of toroid AGN's as a helix, as the jets have precession around each other as they're both trying to emit on the axis. Google the HST photo's 'Centaurus A' (our nearest recycling galaxy) and the pattern is evident. (Or it's in the paper in the link I gave you above). Have you read that or my essay yet?

The re-ionized matter (when at full power) in the jets propagates fresh stuff from the dark energy field (Unruh effect and photo-ionization) but the basic oscillation of the particles remain as that motion is what they are made of! (twin vortex spin, forming a torus in fact). How's that for 'scale invariance'.

I hope it may give some answers as well as questions. But remember, by definition it's not and can't be mainstream because it all seems to fit too consistently! Thoughts?

Best wishes


Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Chris replied on Sep. 21, 2012 @ 18:17 GMT
Hi Peter, I did read your essay/paper and liked it. As you point out, there are reoccurring patterns in all things, and of course the question is why? I think I was taking a stab at the why question to show a basic lack of knowledge in why basic elements like atoms do anything? I agree that when trying to answer those questions, it doesn't appear to be random reactions, that things, as you point out, form patterns, which imply to me that "conscious" behind these pattersn is real and not a by-product of matter. I don't mean conscious in a way that implies "god" but to imply that there is something there, inside these most basic elements, that elements in the universe are operating like a binary computer system.

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Georgina Woodward wrote on Oct. 3, 2012 @ 05:42 GMT
Dear Chris,

I found your essay to be making a very novel suggestion. I am not sure it is saying which of our basic physical assumptions are wrong but it is an enjoyable idea. I still think that given particular geological and meteorological conditions, some stirring to bring the atoms into the ideal binding positions, the necessary inputs -might- be thrown together and bound by chance. From then on the development of complexity is a matter of survival in the environment to perform replication or being disassembled, natural selection. A higher level of control than the atomic level.

I don't think an atom is sufficiently large to have memory but I am amazed by the miniaturization of objects and magnifications that are now possible. If it carries on who knows? We might be writing on individual atoms, rather than using them to write with or building 'snowmen' out of them.I think you may find Sara Walker's essay interesting as she is talking about the informational content of living organisms. (Consideration of my own essay would also be appreciated.)

Kind regards, Georgina Parry

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Sergey G Fedosin wrote on Oct. 4, 2012 @ 06:05 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

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Member Benjamin F. Dribus wrote on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 05:35 GMT
Dear Chris,

This is an interesting idea. I have not thought about this specific possibility before, but I have thought about the possibility that atoms may be much more complicated and include many more layers of structure than currently acknowledged.

Based on my own study of quantum gravity (see my essay here), I believe that so-called "elementary" particles may actually involve vast numbers of causal relations (Avogadro's number or more!) This would certainly provide enough storage capacity for containing information about DNA.

Thanks for the interesting read. Take care,

Ben Dribus

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Login or create account to post reply or comment.

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