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Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability Essay Contest
December 24, 2019 - March 16, 2020
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What Is “Fundamental”
October 28, 2017 to January 22, 2018
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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
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Sergey Fedosin: on 10/5/12 at 15:05pm UTC, wrote Dear Anthony, thanks for your opinion. I do not believe in existence of...

Steve Dufourny Jedi: on 10/5/12 at 11:55am UTC, wrote Hello, I forgot this thread. Sorry for the late answer. You know Mr...

Sergey Fedosin: on 10/4/12 at 5:41am UTC, wrote If you do not understand why your rating dropped down. As I found ratings...

Anthony DiCarlo: on 9/28/12 at 15:44pm UTC, wrote Karl, It is a mystery to me as to why "measurable science" would not have...

Hoang Hai: on 9/28/12 at 3:13am UTC, wrote I am also a measure, literally.

Hoang Hai: on 9/28/12 at 3:10am UTC, wrote Dear Anthony DiCarlo Very interesting, specific, detailed and easy to...

Karl Coryat: on 9/28/12 at 0:27am UTC, wrote Tony, I enjoyed reading your essay. It is more enlightening and...

Anthony DiCarlo: on 9/25/12 at 16:30pm UTC, wrote Hector Zenil, (thank you for your reply!) If we do not physically define...


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: Unification of "Life" and "Information" by Anthony DiCarlo [refresh]
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Author Anthony DiCarlo wrote on Aug. 31, 2012 @ 11:34 GMT
Essay Abstract

This article focuses on those who measure, literally.

Author Bio

Currently the author holds the "Fellow" title at Texas Instruments. He is the inventer of the current DLP micro-mirror arrays scalable architecture. Prior to TI he was an Assistent Professor of Physics at Southeastern LA University. He received a PhD in Physics at Arizona State University and then served a postdoctorate position at the University of Utah. His undergraduate work was completed at Steven's Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ.

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Constantinos Ragazas wrote on Aug. 31, 2012 @ 18:09 GMT
Hello Anthony,

Good to meet again in these fqxi pages! You write,

"...unifying life with the fundamental rules of what constitutes measured information."

and also,

"The simplicity in the underlying concepts of the theory must also be deemed evident by many and not just by a selected few. How can anything at all be deemed grand when the “grandness” is a judgment call in the eyes of the beholder and beholders are merely a few scientists?"

I couldn't agree with you more! Though I realize your essay is much more than these quotes. As you suggest,

"... we can use string theory physics to model the physical sensory information that sustains a conscious life form that interacts with the universe."

This is a bold and insightful idea. It may also be correct! In my last FQXi essay I write,

"... if the view leads to physical explanations [based on mathematics] which are counter-intuitive and defy common sense, or become too abstract and too removed from life and not supported by life, than we must not confuse mathematical deductions with physical realism. Rather, we should change our view!"

We both agree that physics must make sense to ordinary people and not just to the few experts. Thus, the final arbiter of a physical theory is the collective mind of a culture. And in this sense (as well as many other) Physics is akin to Metaphysics!

My current essay, “The Metaphysics of Physics”, builds on this theme and takes it further. I think you will find it enjoyable and agreeable to your own thoughts on modern physics.

Best wishes!


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Anthony DiCarlo replied on Sep. 1, 2012 @ 19:44 GMT

It is good hearing from you again. I must admit that your essay last year influenced me to give this another go. I did like your essay again this year also. It appears we have similar views in many respects. Grand unification must include the observer in a way that even the observer is clueless too ... and why ... probably because it provides the utmost in elegant simplicity.

Best Regards,

Tony DiCarlo

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John Merryman wrote on Sep. 1, 2012 @ 04:18 GMT

May I offer a simpler description of how life models physics?

Information defines energy and energy manifests information. Animate, mobile organisms developed complimentary systems to process both. We have a central nervous system to process information and a respiratory, digestive and circulatory system to process energy. The processing unit of the nervous system, the...

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John Merryman replied on Sep. 1, 2012 @ 04:24 GMT
lousy proofreading;

yet there is no clear line where the chicken ends and the fox begins

since it expands to infinity, to the latter,

It is not the present moving from past to future, but the changing configuration of presence, turning future into past.

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S Halayka replied on Sep. 1, 2012 @ 05:37 GMT
You could also say that hot systems overtake cold systems, and that heat itself can cause mutations in systems, which would ultimately bring about the dominance of hotter and hotter systems -- so life is great at converting useful energy into heat, and life is very likely to get better and better at it. We exist to break stuff up in order to scatter about the binding energy, and by doing so we set ourselves up for evolution.

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Anthony DiCarlo replied on Sep. 6, 2012 @ 13:48 GMT
To S Halayka,

You state that "hot systems overtake cold systems." How about saying this: "Information spreads throughout the degrees of freedom offered?" If each life form represents your "systems" they then provide independent degrees of freedom to disseminate this information (the information being your heat). This would then imply that over time there will be a dominance of "informed" life forms over "un-informed" life forms. A "smarts vs. time" distribution moves towards making life forms a bit smarter over time, and therefore, they become aware that heat dominance is also a form of information dominance and do things like .... locally reverse entropy (refrigeration) ... etc,.

It's all about life and information!



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dan winter wrote on Sep. 1, 2012 @ 12:06 GMT
note how the fractal physics of optimized charge compression / fusion;

match the physics of measurement of life force


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Member Benjamin F. Dribus wrote on Sep. 2, 2012 @ 08:48 GMT

Interesting that you mention the zeta function in this context. I know of several physics applications of the zeta function, the Riemann hypothesis, etc., but I had never seen in mentioned in a biological context.

A question I have is the following: given your emphasis on the observer, what is your view of the principle of covariance? The reason I ask is because I am interested in alternate descriptions of covariance myself; I describe this in my essay

On the Foundational Assumptions of Modern Physics

Also interesting to see that you were at SLU. Did you know Zach Teitler? He was doing algebraic geometry there a few years ago. Take care,

Ben Dribus

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Anthony DiCarlo replied on Sep. 2, 2012 @ 15:34 GMT

On Zeta..

I think more of the Zeta function in the context of the space of all Holonomic functions (all can be built from elements on the critical strip).. the mathematical model of the space of information. r=0 being the electron (smallest) and r=1 being the outer edge of the volume containing information (the universe in the limit and including all other manifolds).... so the r measure is a representative measure of the information from that specific location in the universe in the limits for r (or manifold). Converging functions at r>1 solves Casmir force models... and there are many more quantum Sums that have converging solutions in the space beyond infinity (outside the manifold ... a space where there is convergence of information that leads to an accurate energy measure at r>1. With that being said (I'm rather long winded on occasion where I have the freedom of keystrokes w/ no interruption, so please forgive me!) biology may fall into the r>1 space in where models of the immense number of quantum #'s coming from the exact chemical concentrations that produce entropy gradients (2nd law) to drive thermodynamics ... that must all be summed to produce a measurable outcome... an immense convergence that supplies information on the biological levels (maybe driving measurable cell potentials.. local ionic concentrations....all physical measurables).


Hmmm, to be honest w/ you I just Googled the term. Would have to sit on this a bit and do a bit more thinking (following entropy gradients w/ Feynman rules) prior to hitting keystrokes.

Also, I did not know Zach. I left my Associate Professor role at Southeastern LA University in 1995.

Best regards,


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Anthony DiCarlo wrote on Sep. 2, 2012 @ 14:18 GMT
In response to John Merryman:

I believe that when you equate energy to information, you are doing the equivalent of knowing a measure, but, leaving out the detailed reasons for why you received the measure.... like knowing the answer and having to work backwards for the physical meaning. Instead, if we call every degree of freedom an information network, invoke the 2nd law of thermodynamics to evolve the system to follow the entropy gradient, while invoking Feynman's rules to combine .... this is Constantino Ragazas's"accumulation of energy period" which is actually much more interesting then the energy measure outcome. Recall where energy usually lands up in unification and how it combines with the "time of accumulation." We can't unify because the unification comes in the story that comes before the measured energy...plain and simple. This is the place where the 2nd law is driving the combinations that sample Fewnman's possibilities.... this is the thinking period .. the accumulation of energy period .... the thought that transpires prior to causing a physical, measurable action.

Therefore, your measure of energy is not mine .. THE paramount issue in unification is we all have our own story and this does not come with synchronization into what drives the entropy gradient in the decision making step in the thought process ... a reasoning period that results in performing the physical action that is soon, later, etc., to eventually transpire (tackyons that assure your future). It is when we unite on other grounds that we unify..... not with energy.... with the reasoning that led to the energy measure... that's it.

Best regards,


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John Merryman replied on Sep. 2, 2012 @ 15:09 GMT

I'm not equating energy to information, but relating energy to information. Information is the map of the territory of energy. Our perception of reality is a form of measure and we are trying to work backwards, as to how the reality behind that perception came to be. Meanwhile the reality is in constant flux, which gives us more information, but often distorting what we thought we previously knew. There is an adaptive tendency to stick with what has worked and brush aside other views. From religion to politics, our frameworks often go from being definitive to defensive.

I would say I fully agree with Constantino's accumulation scenario and voiced similar concepts in my digital vs. analog essay; Comparing Apples to Inches

"It seems to me, that when those early physicists were deciding what a photon was,

they were counting when they should have been measuring. They counted the clicks of

the detector, when they should have been measuring the spaces in between.

Not an irreducible little particle, but the smallest measurable quantity.

An inch, not an apple.

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Anthony DiCarlo replied on Sep. 2, 2012 @ 15:39 GMT


Thanks for your informative replys.


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John Merryman replied on Sep. 3, 2012 @ 02:00 GMT

You're welcome. We are all trying to figure out the same elephant, it just seems like different beasts on occasion.

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Anthony DiCarlo wrote on Sep. 7, 2012 @ 15:21 GMT
A closing from the author of this essay:

A famous man once said:

“It would probably be enough to understand the electron”

Being a student of David Hestenes at ASU, I became fascinated in the geometrical interpretation of electron spin and the utility in visualizing this spin plane as "acting" like a tiny mirror. Essentially every information measure in space-time comes...

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Member George F. R. Ellis wrote on Sep. 16, 2012 @ 10:05 GMT
hi Anthony

I thoroughly applaud the main stream of your essay, which goes so much beyond the narrow confines of physics that dominates most essays. You say "Information connects life’s physical conscious state of being to the surrounding environment that is suitable to the particular life form (environments immersed in air, in water, etc., for the many distinct living species identified)." Agreed. This is a top-down effect from the environment to life forms - and that is fully in consonance with my own essay.

Where I part with you is the nee dot involve M-theory in this. While information may well play a role in that theory, as is suggested by all the stuff on the holographic principle, ordinary everyday physics will handle what you are talking about. The brain is essentially based in electromagnetism, biophysics, and molecular biology; it does not need M-theory.

George Ellis

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Member George F. R. Ellis replied on Sep. 16, 2012 @ 10:06 GMT
type: need to involve

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Anthony DiCarlo replied on Sep. 16, 2012 @ 14:28 GMT

I believe that the biggest mistake in doing science is that those that do it forget to consider if we measured 'who' is really doing it. Until we physically define "who" the rest is bolderdash!

Life being the top/down scaling from the universe/galaxy/life/orgen/cell/ ... yes, absolutely! The top/down rings with many essays, except, all fail to describe exactly what's...

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Anthony DiCarlo wrote on Sep. 18, 2012 @ 12:56 GMT
George F. R. Ellis, (again to your question of "why string theory?")

Since "all" the information derivable from the Dirac equation is reflected as a subset of the net information in the Klien-Gordon-Fock equation information (better remember Fock!) ... we can possibly look at the detailed aspects of this relation and compare it with the other KGF bosonic information that IS NOT represented...

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SteveDufourny Jedi replied on Sep. 19, 2012 @ 23:08 GMT
Hello Mr Di Carlo,

I beleive strongly that the 2d strings are intresting, that said , the mathematical superimposings must be purely realistic and determinsitic when they want to explain the pure 3D reralism. Tha quantization of mass can be made with correct convergences.

You sepak about the KGF bosonic string space .I must say that the real probelm is that the string theorists tell...

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Anthony DiCarlo replied on Sep. 20, 2012 @ 14:12 GMT
SteveDufourny Jedi, (Thank you for your comments)

Spheres, strings .... electron, hole, etc., whatever, how about we just call it all information? 11 dimensions, 5 dimensions .... how about we call these degrees of freedom to store and transmit information.

You state:

"The fractal is universal."

How about "the entire universe is alive" with information that scales down in size from the volume contained within the universe, to the surface of a black hole, to the information stored in your concious thoughts .... every single physical thing - all are physically connected to light.

In my essay I choose planar mirrors to state my case w.r.t. reflection due to my wanting folks to be able to have a look for themselves. If we let the mirrors have curvature we can enclose with a sphere. This was to be my next essay - most folks do not have access to place themselves between Mirrors shaped like surfaces of an oinion... concave and convex - an information scale changer going from linear (flat mirror) to quadratic (mirror w/ curvature). Anyway ... this curvature may supply the sphere.

Also, if you imagine looking far back in time (very small radius) in a Mirror you notice a singularity at the Mirror center in information past space .... this might be akin to the Muon mirror surface turned at 90 Degrees .... then... if you can situate yourself to look into the surface of the Muon ... at it's very center (small radius) .... you would see the Taon at the Muon center rotated at 90 degrees to plane Muon (a scaled pseudoscalar). Maybe this can be represented by Koide axis? Who knows?

Best Regards,


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Steve Dufourny Jedi replied on Sep. 20, 2012 @ 14:49 GMT
you are welcome,

The simulations can converge between the 2D and the 3d, but frankly it is time to put reau UNIVERSAL DOMAINS because the extradimensionalities are a pure lost of time. In fact they thought that the 1d to 2d and fater the 3d could imply a SO(n), it has no sense and reason. The real universal sphere is in 3D,3 vectors implying a beautiful universal sphere, the quantum world is in the same relativistic logic. The scalars are not vectors!!!!

ps: I say me that the angles are essential like the volumes and the velcoties of rotations and motions of spheres in 3D.


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Member Hector Zenil wrote on Sep. 25, 2012 @ 06:28 GMT
Dear Anthony,

I think your ideas are close to other authors asking for a better account of the observer in physical theories (beyond the current place given by quantum mechanics). In this direction I find your essay interesting and quite different to most of the other more abstract approaches. You present some refreshing ideas even if they sometimes feel completely disconnected and I find some sense in them and perhaps unreasonable conclusions, yet you place life in quite a prominent place which is often strange in physics.

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Anthony DiCarlo replied on Sep. 25, 2012 @ 16:30 GMT
Hector Zenil, (thank you for your reply!)

If we do not physically define how "that" which measures ("that" being .. life) is tied to the universe for which it measures, we will likely miss out on any deeper, physical understanding of life because of a physical "impedance mismatch between life sensory observations and that what leads to new thoughts and perceptions." Basically, our thinking will be screwed up! Thoughts evolve from our observations and perceptions, and, our observations must include the boson of light as par taking in every bit of information we physically gather, therefore, it becomes important to know exactly what physical basis we measure from to impedance match to the universe (this applies to all measures - you have to choose an observer when it comes time to physically making a measure - everyone has their own impedance).

If you find disconnect in anything stated in this essay, please be specific and I can hopefully "shed some light" on why the disconnect. In considering "Life" as the center of all measures, each and every bit of information we measure will have a "Because Life ...." interpretation. I believe "Life reasoning" should bridge the many disconnects in finding a Grand Unification! It's time that life enters the picture and plays the central role!

Thanks and best regards!

Tony DiCarlo

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Karl Coryat wrote on Sep. 28, 2012 @ 00:27 GMT
Tony, I enjoyed reading your essay. It is more enlightening and foundational than many of the essays who are faring better in the competition. I hope you've had a chance to look at the essay by Sara Walker, "Is Life Fundamental?", which explores similar themes. My own essay does as well, although I admit that I was too nervous to put "life" in the title, lest people get the wrong idea about where I was coming from. I am glad that you and Sara Walker had the courage to do so.

I suspect that life and information are intimately linked and fundamental. In my essay, though, I extend this fundamental observational quality to technology as well, which I feel is equally capable of generating what you have called "life information" as well -- after all, life designed measurement technologies, modeling them completely on life processes! In my view, life and technology together generate the relational information that forms the evolving structure of our world. I hope you'll have a chance to check out this approach that I took to unifying life and information. Best of luck!

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Anthony DiCarlo replied on Sep. 28, 2012 @ 15:44 GMT

It is a mystery to me as to why "measurable science" would not have turned the microscopes back on ourselves after the many attempts to explain "things" with the microscopes pointed away from ourselves for so long. At first I believed that the "most important" information to accumulate is that which partains to life, but then, I realized that ALL measurable information points back to life. What is information w/o having a life form to measure and manipulate it? This thought of not having a measure presents nothing that leads to verification in testing, therefore, I'll just stick to being a "living measure" and attempt to "physically fundamentalize" the information I can measure. A simple, physical, visual 4 dimensional model can go a long way in making the non-scientist more aware of how past information can be "stored" in reflection for analysis. Taking the same model and tweaking it to allow an immense scaling size down to electron becomming the reflective Mirrors takes a bit of thought .. you need to "strap your weightless conciousness to the electron and record what you see as the electron wips along to maintain all past reflections!!

I have read your essay and do agree with you on many points. You too also appear to have settled with the idea that measurable information is where we should concentrate our thoughts... so we can test. Any other avenue becomes "meta"physics and we all have to eventually put up (test) or shut up (keep untestable opinions to ourselves)!

I have also read Sara's essay on biological life information and commented. Sara's unknown measured correlations in biological life should add a challange to every professional to allow her to better understand what she measures by appropriating her with the correct information basis to model. Think of the horizons in our medical future should we succeed!

Thanks again,


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Hoang cao Hai wrote on Sep. 28, 2012 @ 03:10 GMT
Dear Anthony DiCarlo

Very interesting, specific, detailed and easy to understand.

"Those thoughts outlined above leads to a knowledge path that focuses only on physical information that is used to support life."

I appreciate you at least "10".

Kind Regards !


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

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Hoang cao Hai replied on Sep. 28, 2012 @ 03:13 GMT
I am also a measure, literally.

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Sergey G Fedosin wrote on Oct. 4, 2012 @ 05:41 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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Sergey G Fedosin wrote on Oct. 5, 2012 @ 15:05 GMT
Dear Anthony,

thanks for your opinion. I do not believe in existence of virtual particles-antiparticles and in evaporation of black holes. Please take any proton which is not a black hole and have the stable mass.

Sergey Fedosin

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