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Planchon Alain: on 1/7/13 at 15:14pm UTC, wrote Many thanks,for your site, and comments please read my blog about the...

doug: on 12/21/12 at 2:43am UTC, wrote Time dilation manifests itself as Space Creation as a given massive...

doug: on 12/21/12 at 0:38am UTC, wrote There is till time to believe in CIG Theory!

Brendan Foster: on 12/19/12 at 17:46pm UTC, wrote Hello everyone -- I'm afraid I haven't been able to keep up and reply to...

Hoang Hai: on 12/9/12 at 20:06pm UTC, wrote Dear to Moderators FQXi Along with my genuine thanks,is a sincere comments...

Wilhelmus de Wilde: on 12/1/12 at 10:13am UTC, wrote fully agreed upon Wilhelmus

Israel Perez: on 11/30/12 at 22:24pm UTC, wrote Dear contestants and organizers of the FQXi contest. This post is just to...

John Merryman: on 11/30/12 at 18:09pm UTC, wrote Thanks Jonathan. It does seem native American and Asians have very...


Georgina Woodward: "Hi Markus, ​ In regard to "what is seen next?" David Eagleman has a..." in The Room in the Elephant:...

Stefan Weckbach: "Dear Lorraine, “If you will forgive me for saying so, the situation is..." in The Present State of...

Georgina Woodward: "Hi Markus, thank you for sharing your ideas. Re. the Guinea pigs copies,..." in The Room in the Elephant:...

Georgina Woodward: "Perhaps the idea of consciousness causing collapse is being overthought? ..." in Consciousness and the...

Lorraine Ford: "Stefan, I would say that we individual human beings, and the rest of the..." in The Present State of...

Georgina Woodward: "Thank you John. What did you think about the questioning whether altitude..." in The Nature of Time

John Cox: "Sorry, Georgina, I have had a busy summer and am racing the change of..." in The Nature of Time

Jim Snowdon: "If the Earth did not have it`s rotational motion, the apparent time of day..." in The Quantum Clock-Maker...

click titles to read articles

Reconstructing Physics
New photon experiment gives new meta-framework, 'constructor theory,' a boost.

The Quantum Engineer: Q&A with Alexia Auffèves
Experiments seek to use quantum observations as fuel to power mini motors.

The Quantum Clock-Maker Investigating COVID-19, Causality, and the Trouble with AI
Sally Shrapnel, a quantum physicist and medical practitioner, on her experiments into cause-and-effect that could help us understand time’s arrow—and build better healthcare algorithms.

Connect the Quantum Dots for a New Kind of Fuel
'Artificial atoms' allow physicists to manipulate individual electrons—and could help to reduce energy wastage in electronic devices.

Can Choices Curve Spacetime?
Two teams are developing ways to detect quantum-gravitational effects in the lab.

September 26, 2021

CATEGORY: Blog [back]
TOPIC: Questioning the Foundations: Countdown and Thanks [refresh]
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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster wrote on Nov. 28, 2012 @ 18:19 GMT
This Friday, November 30, we will announce the winners of the 2012 Essay Contest, "Questioning the Foundations". We'd like to start the countdown to the big event now with some thanks and brief closing remarks.

This was our biggest contest by far, in terms of both the number of entrants and the general amount of activity in the contest forums. The contest had 271 entries, up from 161 for our previous contest "Digital or Analog?" - an almost 70% increase. About 100 of the entries, or just over 33%, came from authors who entered a previous essay contest. By comparison, in last year's contest we had about 50 return entrants, or again about 33%. These numbers show that our entrant pool has sizable components of both "regulars" and newcomers, and that both components grew remarkably since the last contest.

The entries came from all over the world, from Australia, China, Finland, India, Kenya, Mexico, Poland, South Africa, Uruguay, Vietnam and of course Ze USA, as well as many other countries. Thanks to all of our entrants and to everyone else who took part in the online discussions.

We did have some growing pains to go with this growth. In particular, we had some issues with the voting system, including invalid duplicate votes. Fortunately, we were able to identify and remove these false votes as we went along, so that they did not have an effect on the finalist pool or on the final results.

We will continue to experiment with better methods for managing future contests, including the voting system and the use of the online forums. We expect to make changes to the voting for the next contest, to cut back on the opportunity and motive for "gaming" the voting system (legally or illegally). We will also make changes soon to the forums that should help keep all discussions productive, educational, and informative.

We have received lots of suggestions for changes already, and we encourage everyone to continue sharing ideas, whether you were a contest entrant or not. Feel free to post suggestions here, or to contact us at

And stay tuned as we announce the contest winners this Friday.

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Pentcho Valev wrote on Nov. 28, 2012 @ 19:19 GMT
It's a shame this contest did not free physics from the constancy of the speed of light - perhaps the most detrimental foundation:

"In sharp contrast, the constancy of the speed of light has remain sacred, and the term "heresy" is occasionally used in relation to "varying speed of light theories". The reason is clear: the constancy of c, unlike the constancy of G or e, is the pillar of special relativity and thus of modern physics. Varying c theories are expected to cause much more structural damage to physics formalism than other varying constant theories."

Pentcho Valev

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Yuri Danoyan replied on Nov. 28, 2012 @ 21:50 GMT

My essay written about variation: G,c,e,alfa,Mpr,Mel.

Constants:h,Mpl,Mp/Mel,e/m,lifespan 1cycle of the Universe 144x10^9years.



Paul Dirac was right!

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Pentcho Valev replied on Nov. 28, 2012 @ 22:24 GMT
I mean constancy of the speed of light as postulated by Einstein in 1905:

"...light is always propagated in empty space with a definite velocity c which is independent of the state of motion of the emitting body."

In fact, the speed of light (relative to the observer) varies with v, the speed of the emitting body relative to the observer, in accordance with the equation c'=c+v.

Pentcho Valev

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Yuri Danoyan replied on Nov. 28, 2012 @ 22:47 GMT
I mean variation of the speed of light from Bing Bang to Big Crunch.

You can't be observer in both cases.

Permittivity of vacuum vary during lifespan of Universe.

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Juan Ramón González Álvarez wrote on Nov. 28, 2012 @ 19:45 GMT
Thanks to FQXi for the opportunity to participate in this exciting contest, plagued with lots and lots of good ideas.

Early congrats to all the winners.

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Andrew Mendelsohn wrote on Nov. 28, 2012 @ 22:48 GMT
Your contests have had two major problems:

1) contestants gaming the contest by vote trading

2) contestants gaming the contest by strategic use of negative (low) ratings against competitors.

3) strong incentive not to be scientifically honest in responding to essays in the forums/comments, in order to achieve a good score or even worse avoid being down-rated.

4) unequal value of votes (someone who rates 100 contestants as a 10, would tend to cheapen the meaning of a 10).

Possible solutions:

To eliminate 2 and 3, remove negative (low ratings) voting. The easiest way is to create a single value rating system, equal to a one or "like" on Facebook.

To discourage 1 and 4, provide contestants with a limited number of votes, somewhere between 3 and 10 might work well. One can't trade votes with more than the limited number of votes one has. It also increases and equalizes the value of one's opinion.

An example of how this would work would be that each contestant gets three likes to award as she sees fit. She would award them to what she believes to be the top three essays. Scoring would be based on the number of votes received, where each vote counts as 1. FQXI members' votes could be given more weight.

In this scenario, there would be limited or no vote trading, no ability to denigrate others work, more honest communication and it would require more work on the part of contestants to choose wisely.

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Andrew Mendelsohn replied on Nov. 28, 2012 @ 22:51 GMT
Correction that should be "four major problems"

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Anonymous replied on Nov. 30, 2012 @ 06:34 GMT
As has been pointed out above, the simple act of keeping the community ranking hidden will stop the use of negative ratings against 'current' winners. I suspect that this will go a long way toward resolving the gaming issue. It should focus people's votes on the best (and worst?) essays instead of on 'positioning' issues.

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Andrew Mendelsohn replied on Nov. 30, 2012 @ 08:32 GMT
Dear anonymous,

Keeping the community ranking hidden is a good idea, but it only addresses point 2 of my first post, and that only partially. The problems I listed are mostly unaffected: 1) Vote trading (eg here is one scenario: "you have a great essay, I'll give is a high score, please do the same for me") will remain-- it appeared to be quite prevalent during the last two contests. 2) Not knowing who is in the lead will make using low scores to punish likely competitors more imprecise, but cunning competitors will just down rate the essays with the largest number of favorable comments. 3) the problem of low ratings, especially used as retaliation for criticism of one's essay will remain. 4) Unequal value of votes remains.

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Nov. 29, 2012 @ 06:27 GMT
Well then,

I guess I should thank everybody now, before the final standings cloud the picture by creating dualities that divide through comparison. I congratulate all of the finalists for making it to this point as a qualifier for the final judgment. Whatever the outcome; I have had a tremendous benefit, and I expect to have greater opportunities and greater impact - as a result of this contest. I have learned as much, and as quickly, as one can - and I have had some world-class teachers on these forums to explain things I could not comprehend before. But I have also given others opportunities to learn, or helped to explain things people might not know otherwise.

I am happy I was so welcome in the forums of several authors, and I enjoyed all of the participation quite a bit. I only wish I'd had more time to participate, including to read and comment on a few more essays. I skimmed less than half of the total, and only read a third or fewer for detail - but even that was a daunting task with so many essays. To some degree, the potential for benefit is limited by what you give to the process, and being among the finalists gave me an excuse to give a little more time to participation. Hopefully my insights have benefited others, and aided their learning process. You all have certainly helped me.

All the Best,


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Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on Nov. 29, 2012 @ 12:23 GMT
Brendan, I second Jonathan's sentiments to thank you and the fqxi administrators, essay authors and commentators for providing us with the opportunity to try to answer a particularly important question. I tried to read as many essays as I could too and learned a lot about physics and/or the fertile imagination and stamina of many people for accomplishing difficult research motivated mostly by love for the subject. Critics of the contest who decried the level of treatment of some of the essays (probably including mine) miss an important point: fqxi at its best is one huge wonderful brainstorming session of people from many backgrounds trying to discover the cause of and solve the logjam that has been blocking the advance of physics in past decades. Good luck to us all it has been stimulating and fun!

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John Merryman wrote on Nov. 29, 2012 @ 17:40 GMT
My only issue is wondering how Foundational Questions Institute is going to top this current essay contest question? Consider some of the possibilities: Is math foundational to reality, or a model of it? What is the nature of space; energy/mass, etc?

It seems to me this current question went to the very limits of the mandate of FQXi. So the point I would raise is the next step to simply go onto another contest and ask some other intriguing question, or possibly to extend this current debate in some fashion? Such as an effort to examine some of the very interesting issues raised here, possibly with grants, since money is the motivator of human endeavor, for study, publishing a book of various proposals, etc. Given the current chaos in physics, with string/supersymmetry issues proving fruitless as areas of testing etc, there is a wide open field to the future of physics and going back and examining foundational premises would be an entirely logical reset.

So here we have both need for new ideas and a supply of them. It seems an opportunity that shouldn't be passed up.

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Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on Nov. 30, 2012 @ 01:54 GMT
Well said John: "this current question went to the very limits of the mandate of FQXi". What seems to me to be needed to be done is properly key-wording, sorting, indexing and cross-referencing the many excellent ideas presented in this contest. Perhaps fqxi can then open a forum topic for each such a category. This would make it easier for someone to find and discuss all articles that deal with a given topic: Faster-than-light, Ether, Probability, Big Bang, Entanglement, etc etc. Better still an interactive 'map' of such ideas can be made that leads to the various essays and discussions. Don't ask me how it can actually be made but I have seen such animated maps online.

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Nov. 30, 2012 @ 05:03 GMT
Yes I agree.

This year's question did indeed allow people to push the envelope and explore ideas and realities that were rather more far out than other contests, and there were some inspired answers to the query. Of course; I have to take some credit, as I am fairly certain that they used a question I suggested for last year's contest, or a generalization thereof. I'll add that my suggestion was motivated by attending the 2nd Crisis in Cosmology Conference, in Port Angeles, WA. I spoke about this in my essay, but I'll summarize.

It was an eye opening experience to see such a diverse range of differing alternative explanations presented for the same observational data - when the conventional view in cosmology supports one explanation and admits only a small range of variations to be explored. What stood out for me was that changing only one of the key assumptions in modern cosmology allowed some aspects of what we observe astrophysically to be explained with greater ease and clarity, but that was true for any of several changed assumptions - given some limited range of observations.

But the way FQXi phrased the question certainly made it a worthy topic for this year's contest. I wanted to again thank FQXi, Submeta and the Gruber Foundation - and of course Scientific American. But I also thank all the other participants, the Academy members (whoops, ..sorry wrong award). Seriously though; everyone's participation made this contest a great success.

All the Best,


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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Nov. 30, 2012 @ 05:41 GMT
Hello again,

I should comment here that since CCC-2 I have attended other conferences, and heard talks by top scientists calling us to question assumptions. For example; I heard Paul Steinhardt, one of the founders of modern cosmology, put the Inflationary Universe theory on trial - much as he did in the Scientific American article, but the year before at FFP11.

However I also remember hearing Doug Osheroff advise us at FFP10 that we should not assume that today's theorists have all of the answers exactly right. If they did, we wouldn't need to do the experiment, but in the end only testing our theories with experiments and extended observations will give us the understanding we desire.

So this was a really great contest question, with a rip-roaring contest, and I'm glad we got at least one experimentalist in the finals (Eric Reiter). I wish everyone the best of luck now and in their future endeavors, and humbly wish for my own success.

Have Fun!


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John Merryman replied on Nov. 30, 2012 @ 15:03 GMT

It was an excellent choice of contest entry. Thanks. I actually did submit my point about time to that conference; That our perception of time as past to future sequence and physics' institutionalization of that as measurement, then commingling the measurements of duration and distance, overlooks the physical dynamic changing future to past. As treating time as effect, rather than agent, negates the theory of spacetime as causal. Suffice to say, it was rejected.

It is interesting that the issue of what is the problem with our foundational assumptions does so often come back to the issue of time, but I don't seem to have much luck getting attention to this point.

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Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Nov. 30, 2012 @ 15:52 GMT
Thanks John,

By my reckoning, time is one of the tougher problems - requiring us to understand really thorny Math like non-associative geometry. People bandy about concepts like higher dimensions, but do not appreciate the complications. A recent post at the essay of Michael Goodband (part of a long thread, and hidden) spoke of 2nd and 3rd order relativity - a necessary subtlety that very few physicists take into account explicitly. But time is not just a minor subtlety - it is deserving of some efforts for understanding.

As you say; it is easy to trivialize the view of future becoming past, when it has become habitual to think of the present becoming the future instead. Rest assured that a lot of it is cultural. Look up "No word for time" a book by my friend Evan Pritchard about the Algonquin peoples. The title premise comes from the ideas passed on by his Mic-Mac elder teacher Albert, explaining how they have no use for the fiction of clock time. 'Things take as long as they take' is an expression of Turing's theorem, in this context.



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John Merryman replied on Nov. 30, 2012 @ 18:09 GMT
Thanks Jonathan.

It does seem native American and Asians have very different notions of time than western culture. While I focus on the issue of time, because it does present a clear argument, the deeper debate is far more profound. Our concepts of history and causal logic are based on this concept of linear, sequential time. Then on these concepts, ideas of everything from monotheism to objective identity are based. So when we think of eastern philosophy as conextual, while western philosophy is more object oriented, it may well go down to these basic assumptions. If physics had evolved from an eastern framework, would it be so focused on particulars, such as particles, waves, strings, fields, etc, or would it be more wholistically contexual and entirely different concepts and assumptions come into play? Looking through the contest winners, I do see glimmers of fresh thinking along these lines. Really stepping back and trying to encompass the entirety of the evolution of conscious thought is not possible for any one person, but collectively it starts to add up. Just for example, two winners that go to the parameters of this view would be Olaf Dreyer's, On, Not Of, for looking at the contextual aspect and Sara Walker's Is Life Fundamental, for truely staring into the "abyss." It has been an exciting contest and the questions will continue.

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Israel Perez wrote on Nov. 30, 2012 @ 22:24 GMT
Dear contestants and organizers of the FQXi contest.

This post is just to thank all people involved in this project. Specially, I would like to thank the organizers for giving us the opportunity to express our ideas. Whether we win a prize or not, we all contestants agree that we have gained a lot of knowledge during the previous months. Beyond question we have definitely enriched our background of the world to a considerable extent.

Best regards to everyone, hope to read you next time.


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Wilhelmus de Wilde de Wilde replied on Dec. 1, 2012 @ 10:13 GMT
fully agreed upon


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Hoang cao Hai wrote on Dec. 9, 2012 @ 20:06 GMT
Dear to Moderators FQXi

Along with my genuine thanks,is a sincere comments with desire: FQXi will succeed to become a "firm fulcrum" of the Science.

Although very glad to be involved in the competition, but I was really disappointed about "the exchange by points in the community" - as Andrew Mendelsohn above.

That has created a psychological "doubts" about the ability and the real class of the jury of FQXi, as well as organizational measures and evaluation criteria of FQXi in the contest like this.

Maybe FQXi should leave the assessment and grading, as well as determine the outcome of the contest for the Jury of FQXi it would be better.

The comments and reviews in the "community" as well as "public" should only be used for reference and supplement to the decision of the jury will be more appropriate.

The article reached to "final" should have more one plays against the "opposition" together with the analysis and review of the jury will be more convincing.

If not too upset for you,Moderators can tell an explain more clearly : the purpose of FQXi is to look for "new discoveries and findings" or "new created and compositions"? for me and other authors to choice the response form.

With best wishes and hope FQXi really is a "big event" and not fall into the "deadlock" or "tragic" as the general condition of the current scientific theories.


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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster wrote on Dec. 19, 2012 @ 17:46 GMT
Hello everyone -- I'm afraid I haven't been able to keep up and reply to all posts, so I want to say that FQXi is checking in periodically, absorbing your comments and suggestions. Thanks for the those.

Also I want to mention, in response to an email query -- yes, the essay contests will continue in 2013, but no, we will not be announcing the next topic immediately. So, you can take a break to relax your minds, and check back for updates in the new year.

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doug wrote on Dec. 21, 2012 @ 00:38 GMT
There is till time to believe in CIG Theory!

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doug wrote on Dec. 21, 2012 @ 02:43 GMT
Time dilation manifests itself as Space Creation as a given massive particles travels, and the faster the travel (greater the time dilation), the greater the volume of Space created.

Quantum reduces to Classical as massive particles slow there rate of travel.

Within CIG is a quantum gravity solution. Somewhere.

Hide and seek.

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Planchon Alain wrote on Jan. 7, 2013 @ 15:14 GMT
Many thanks,for your site, and comments

please read my blog about the reality of the univers :

and leave comments !

Good day

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