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FQXi BLOGS
December 19, 2018

CATEGORY: Blog [back]
TOPIC: Essay Contest 2013: It From Bit, or Bit From It? [refresh]
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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster wrote on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 19:29 GMT
Without further ado, I am happy to announce the start of FQXi's 2013 Essay Contest!

Our new topic:

It From Bit or Bit From It?

The past century in fundamental physics has shown a steady progression away from thinking about physics, at its deepest level, as a description of material objects and their interactions, and towards physics as a description of the evolution of information about and in the physical world. Moreover, recent years have shown an explosion of interest at the nexus of physics and information, driven by the "information age" in which we live, and more importantly by developments in quantum information theory and computer science.

We must ask the question, though, is information truly fundamental or not? Can we realize John Wheeler's dream, or is it unattainable? We ask: "It From Bit or Bit From It?"

Possible topics or sub-questions include, but are not limited to:

What IS information? What is its relation to "Reality"?

How does nature (the universe and the things therein) "store" and "process" information?

How does understanding information help us understand physics, and vice-versa?

------

I couldn't write a better introduction to the contest than FQXi Member George Musser, over at the site of our contest partner Scientific American. As George puts it, "Going to a physics conference these days is like landing in The Village of the old TV series The Prisoner, where all anyone talks about is information." Well, now is the time to break out and join us for the discussion here at FQXi.

You can find out more including official rules and entry information at this link. There, you'll also find links to our previous contest entries, including our previous contest Questioning the Foundations.

Entries are due June 28, 2013. Good luck and good writing.

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 20:35 GMT
Once again, an excellent topic. Thanks Brendan.

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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James Putnam wrote on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 20:40 GMT
Good! Thank you Brendan. Tom, I imagine you are chomping at the bit for this one, or is it chomping at the it?

James putnam

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T H Ray replied on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 10:26 GMT
Hi James,

I already wrote my "it from bit" essay in the last competition and it got no attention. Though I welcome the choice of topic, I'm a little amused at the presentation, as if information theory has suddenly emerged as the "hot" subject. If one follows the trends in interdisciplinary science, one knows that for at least 20 years, conference papers and proceedings volumes have been chock full of information theory. The Santa Fe Institute published *Complexity, Entropy and the Physics of Information* (edited by W.H. Zurek) in 1990. New England Complex Systems Institute has also published leading edge research in the field for about 15 years. Commercially, Springer has been a steadfastly supportive publisher.

I don't fault FQXi for catering to its membership; however, I have disabused myself of any notion that the organization is other than a conservative vehicle for science popularizers. While that's a good thing in itself, it doesn't really push any original research boundaries. On the other hand, I've seen talented science writers like Merali, Orem and Dickau raise important questions from this platform and thresh some pretty high quality wheat from the chaff -- so it's well worth the participation. Just my two cents.

Tom

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James Putnam replied on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 13:21 GMT
Tom,

There is flexibility here that exceeds the examples you gave. Here one does not have to adhere to the severe limitations of either mechanical ideologies or political ideologies in order to have their work included. No great leader complex along with its inevitable reliance on censorship.

Here it is proper that experts evaluate the work. Here the variety of experts bring a variety of viewpoints by which to judge other's work. That and repitition and time will tell. I thought your essay was great, but, you haven't written the final essay on It from Bit. No one has written the final essay on anything. Repitition and development are inescable. I consider It from Bit to be inadequate. I think you have demonstrated amazing talent. But, where is the essay that establishes intelligence rather than assumes it. Where is the essay that removes the fog of complexity as fundamental rather than relies upon it.

Ok, I have drifted into preaching my point of view. Yours is different but I look forward eagerly to reading another presentation of your viewpoint.

James Putnam

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T H Ray replied on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 13:36 GMT
"Where is the essay that removes the fog of complexity as fundamental rather than relies upon it."

You could have something there, James. If you prove the existence of a naked singularity. Personally I find the fog comforting. :-)

Tom

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Mar. 25, 2013 @ 21:38 GMT
Yes indeed!

Another great topic Brendan. I look forward to writing on this.

I'm sure we'll see a comment from Tom very soon, James. I just sent him an e-mail about the new contest, before signing on here.

Good luck to all!

Jonathan

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Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 00:44 GMT
Brendan

I congratulate you and the FQXI team for choosing another excellent topic - I look forward to writing my essay and joining the discussion fray! I am a bit alarmed to see that unfairly reserving most (all?) the first selection of 40 winning essays to fqxi members seems as if designed to keep out 'newcomers' from ever entering the charmed circle! No matter it will be fun, and useful.

Vladimir

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Georgina Parry replied on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 02:30 GMT
The automatic Member finalists must leave at least 5 comments or questions, which means having some involvement with the competition over and above just submitting an essay. That's an improvement. I hope it does encourage their active participation and not just just cursory comments.I think it would have been nice to reserve a few finalist spots especially for non members but I suppose some drastic action was needed to prevent too many hopefuls entering.

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Vladimir F. Tamari replied on Mar. 28, 2013 @ 06:42 GMT
But Georgina you know what happens to an inbred population: increased danger of retardation!

I understand how difficult it is for fqxi to keep up standards but discouraging new ideas - which is what this policy seems to amount to - is self- defeating.

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John Merryman replied on Mar. 29, 2013 @ 16:07 GMT
Vladimir,

Looking at the big picture, it's not such a bad thing. You have academic hothouse inbreeding among multiverses, string theory, inflation, wormholes, blocktime, etc. and yes, you do get intellectual degradation, but for those of us looking for an actual revolution, that is a good thing. Give them all the rope they want. Or maybe I should say, string.

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John Merryman wrote on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 00:51 GMT
It is the nature of the beast that with fundamental questions, we keep revisiting the same issues from multiple angles. Safe to say, this one has strong views from both sides and much contentious middle ground. It is a rather pockmarked battle ground.

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Pentcho Valev wrote on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 09:25 GMT
"The past century in fundamental physics has shown a steady progression away from thinking about physics, at its deepest level, as a description of material objects and their interactions, and towards physics as a description of the evolution of information about and in the physical world."

That is, genuine physics is dead and physicists will have to extract career and money from surrogates. The previous contest, "Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?", was the last breath of the dying science. No basic physical assumptions proved wrong - everything is true and... dead.

Pentcho Valev

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Eric Reiter replied on Apr. 5, 2013 @ 21:50 GMT
I sort of agree with what you wrote if one understands that you are saying 'no basic physical assumptions proved wrong' in the eyes of FQXI judges. With that understanding, I agree. FQXI treated my 2012 essay as if an experiment means nothing. The experiment showed photons were wrong, the particle atom was not always correct, and the Born rule was violated. That means all the assumptions behind 'it from bit' arguments are severely challenged. Experiments mean something, and mine was the only essay based on detailed original experiment. Also, there were many other good essays last year with arguments that showed many fundamental assumptions are doubtful.

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Vladimir F. Tamari replied on Apr. 7, 2013 @ 02:47 GMT
Paul - yes the early bird gets the worm!

John - I agree that repeating arguments teases out the meaning eventually.

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Paul Reed replied on Apr. 7, 2013 @ 05:36 GMT
Vladimir

I am no sure they do in this context, but I had a window of opportunity (Easter break) and it is ridiculousy cold. My observation of entries was that the early ones got left behind as the momentum picked up. This is a function of site layout and how one sees the 'latest action' and then joins in. And part of that problem is the way the identification of potential winners is organised. Discussing points with other entrants has the virtue of causing you to explain yourself, etc. But that should be it. After that your entry should be judged on the submission and the subsequent points you have made which substantiate it. There should be no form of 'beauty parade' amongst the entrants, which basically just leads to this 'good essay, oh have you read mine' type comment. You might have noticed, I don't do politically correct or attempt to curry favour!

Paul

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MIKE EMERY wrote on Mar. 26, 2013 @ 19:55 GMT
PLEASE FORGIVE THE ALL CAPS - I'VE PHYSICAL IMPAIRMENTS.

THE QUESTION ABOUT INFORMATION IS A PERFECT START - ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING THAT THE BONN UNIVERSITY HAS FOUND THAT THIS ENTIRE UNIVERSE FITS INTO A COMPUTER SIMULATION, WHICH IS HOLOGRAPHICALLY MANIFEST HERE. THAT EVERYTHING THAT YOU SEE IS AN APPARITION MANIFEST HERE VIA LIGHT SHINNING THRU A 2-D DIFFUSION PATTERN. I.E. A PRODUCT OF CONSCIOUSNESS CREATING IMAGES ONLY.

THERE IS PLENTY OF OTHER EVIDENCE OF THIS - LIKE THE NINEVEH / WILCOCK GALACTIC CONSTANT, WHICH SHOWS THAT THIS GALAXY RUNS LIKE A SWISS WATCH - PERFECTLY.!!!

YIKES - SNICKER

LOVE AND BLESSINGS

MIKE

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Ryoji Furui wrote on Mar. 28, 2013 @ 00:38 GMT
Hello,

I am Ryoji Furui, an entrant of last contest. I would like to show my updated paper as attached file which include ideas from last contest. I would like to have any of feedback. And unfortunately I have no idea to complete an essay for this time but just have short answers for each question examples appearing below.

I hope this contest would be meaningful one again.

Thank you,

Ryoji Furui

------

1. What IS information?

Information can be termed by some definitions. In physics, all theories or experimental data or any past, present and future projects related physics can be information within general terms. On the other hand, there is a limited case used in physics with a pair of another word,"observer(s)". In this case, infomation is limited to observed events.

2. What is its relation to "Reality"?

Reality contains unobserved events.

3. How does nature (the universe and the things therein) "store" and "process" information?

When we observe nature, we "store" it in our memories, expressions or works. This "process" (quantized) is generated foundamentary by neuron firings in the term of biological science.

4. How does understanding information help us understand physics, and vice-versa?

As we get more or precise infomation, we understand physics more or precise, and vice-versa.

attachments: 1_r321.pdf

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Vladimir F. Tamari replied on Apr. 4, 2013 @ 23:53 GMT
Ryoji San

In my opinion the points you made are interesting and quite relevant to the subject of this contest. I encourage you to expand it into an essay and send it in.

Gambattekudasai (= more power to you)

Vladimir

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Paul Reed replied on Apr. 6, 2013 @ 04:49 GMT
頑張ってくださ
356; (がんばってくだ
2373;い)

Ganbatte Kudasai: Do your best, please. (formal)

Facts Holmes, facts!!!

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Vladimir F. Tamari replied on Apr. 7, 2013 @ 02:43 GMT
Haha - Paul - Watson, I have been living in Japan for the past 42 years. Gambatte Kudasai is used in different contexts most of which defy a precise English translation. "Do your best" is close enough. "Bon Courage" is another.

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Domenico Oricchio wrote on Mar. 30, 2013 @ 12:22 GMT
It is intelligent to choice automatically the members like finalist; this permit to increase the visibility of the contest (the visibility is for all), and it is intelligent the request of members comment (this request pull in the members in the contest blog).

I ever think that is not important to win the contest, but share our ideas in a increasingly wider blog.

Saluti

DOmenico

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David Chapman wrote on Mar. 30, 2013 @ 15:09 GMT
Anyone working on this essay might find a workshop that is taking place in Milton Keynes, UK, on the 8th-10th April useful:

"The Difference That Makes a Difference 2013: An interdisciplinary workshop on Information: Space, Time, and Identity"

Although the deadline for registration has passed, there are still places available and booking is possible if you email registration@dtmd.org.uk

I hope you will excuse me publicising the event here. It is not a commercial venture - far from it! - and I do think it is relevant. The emphasis at the workshop is on interdisciplinary conversations as part of our project exploring an interdisciplinary understanding of the nature of information.

David Chapman

Senior Lecturer in the Communication and Systems Department of The Open University, UK.

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Alan Lowey wrote on Apr. 2, 2013 @ 11:27 GMT
The Mysteries Of The Bermuda Triangle would have been a much better topic imo:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzeJaGwVykw

Bruce Gernon's electronic fog experience is very relevant to Flight 19. The calculated speed of 2000mph is simply the speed of the lunar earth tide at this latitude. A dark matter 'rocking stone' embedded in the crust with a 2g graviton cone of influence could simply have flung the aircraft *and* surrounding pocket of air across the Florida Strait, causing the effects described.

[quote]

2- The lunar shadow moves faster than sound.

During a solar eclipse, the moon casts a shadow on the Earth, the surface speed of which is relative to the observer's position on Earth. Speed is slowest at the equator, where the shadow moves at 1,074 mph. Near the north pole, that speed can reach 5,000 mph. These speeds dwarf the speed of sound (768 mph). If shadows could actually make sounds, a solar eclipse would produce a sonic boom on earth.

[/quote]

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Eric Reiter replied on Apr. 5, 2013 @ 22:34 GMT
I agree. Clearly, 'It from bit' is from the probability interpretation, the Born rule. That is what 'IT' is about, right? The Born rule was demolished by my many experiments outlined in my 2012 essay. The problem is that the FQXI judges acted as if my experiments never happened. They happened, and they will happen any time I or anyone wants to show it. So even the Bermuda Triangle would have been a better subject this year. People think that information can occur without energy, and I know why they think that way. 'It from Bit' is an act of desperation due to misunderstanding past experiments. The misunderstanding was due to interpreting past experiments through a narrow quantum mechanical polarized thought window. It is not hard to take any modern experiment, like quantum erasers, or any of it, and either point out the flaw in the experiment or show how to interpret the experiment with the loading theory, or even some other theory. Then one can argue that experiments of others do not draw the clear distinction. My experiments seem to be the only ones that clearly defy QM and therefore draw the required clear distinction. Evidently, FQXI judges do not care about arguments based on experiment. The essayists judging did seem to care because I came in #14 out of ~285, thank you.

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John Merryman replied on Apr. 6, 2013 @ 03:07 GMT
Eric,

Yours was a valiant effort, but it is not going to get anyone inside the circle to step outside it. Consider what all they have been willing to swallow in order to preserve the current model, as well as support their careers. If you can't be refuted, you can be ignored. Don't give up though. Nature lets us blow bubbles, but eventually they all pop.

Consider the point I keep making; That the basis of time is not a vector from past to future, no matter how you measure the interval, but is the changing configuration of the physical, that turns future into past. For example, ask yourself if it is more logical that the earth travels a fourth dimension from yesterday to tomorrow? Or that tomorrow becomes yesterday because the earth rotates?

If you find the second more reasonable, then time is an effect of action and not some mathematical basis for it, so there is no conceptual foundation for expanding space. No Big Bang, no Inflation, no blocktime, no wormholes, no dark energy. Redshift is not due to light traveling as a point particle that can only be redshifted by recession. Not to mention they assume a constant speed of light against which to measure this expanding space!!!!

No multiworlds either, as it is the actual collapse of probability that turns potential into actual, not moving along that vector of time from the actual to the probable.

The question is how to organize a broad theory from the many ideas questioning the current model and how to position it as a viable alternative, as people finally grow tired with the increasingly erratic and eventually unstable nature of the field.

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Vladimir F. Tamari replied on Apr. 7, 2013 @ 02:34 GMT
Eric,

Glad to see you here promoting your work. By all accounts, and through my experience of trying to communicate my ideas to the mainstream, it will take patient, unflagging effort to change people's minds. The premises by Einstein, Born and others upon which much of present theory is built, has to give way to a simpler set of assumptions nearer to how nature actually works.Your experiments described in unquantum.net proving the true nature of light quantum emission and absorption clearly defy the Born rule (probabilistic interpretation).

John,

I agree that "the changing configuration of the physical" is the basis of time. If so why complicate the picture by notions of 'future' and 'past'. The universe has this one state and it changes. As to "how to organize a broad theory from the many ideas questioning the current model" - I have presented an outline theory Beautiful Universe that needs a lot of development, but to my naive thinking its one or two premises can be the basis for such a new physics. I am currently trying to simulate the lattice interactions but it is daunting work for a person in my isolated situation.

Vladimir

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Marcel-Marie LeBel wrote on Apr. 6, 2013 @ 17:58 GMT
A good question usually contains precise parameters already limiting and defining the answer. This question is too vague for it point to any specific path...

Secondly, the great/wide/important questions of the FQXI contests are always great/wide/important simply because they carry a serious philosophical overtone. Well, guess what. Any philosophical treatment or approach is, at FQXI, the first one to get shot like ducks in season. The power of philosophy is that of standing back for the big picture and the freedom to discuss avenues and approaches with a certain amount of rational to back it. The weakness of philosophy is that it is not a truth system; it can only deliver an opinion. Yet, many of these opinions have been at the basis of new headways in physics. Whenever a paths gets muddled or foggy, we go back to question our board of original assumptions (last contest). With luck, we get to modify or even knock off a few of these assumptions and start a new path based on the new vision.

I haven’t read Wheeler’s book. Anyone care to explain in a tweet of words what was Wheeler’s problem is with his “it”. (Carefull! Those menacing cursor diving in low flight above the “report post as inappropriate”)



Seriously! I’ve got nothing. I keep reading your posts for some ideas....

Thanks

Marcel,

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T H Ray replied on Apr. 6, 2013 @ 20:11 GMT
Marcel,

Perhaps you will find helpful this excerpt from John Horgan's 1996 book *The End of Science.* One of my favorites -- a collection of interviews with prominent scientists. Though I disagree with Horgan's premise of "ironic science," his journalism is excellent and honest.

Tom

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Marcel-Marie LeBel replied on Apr. 6, 2013 @ 22:54 GMT
Tom,

Thanks for the very rich reference. (I read the book years back and did not remember this part..I still have it :-).

I like in this excerpt the place where Wheeler says: "As the island of our knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." He does recognize the huge difference between knowledge and understanding! I like that.

To attain the ultimate theory may be impossible for science. Not so, I believe, for a structured philosophical truth system.

He said that we create our reality! I totally agree! Not the stuff it is made of, which has been around for billion years. We create in our minds shapes, forms colors, everything from a furiously agitated explosion of a single process (substance) motivated by the simplest logical operations.

This text gives me lots of ideas and I thank you again Tom for showing it to me.

Good thinking/Good writing

Marcel,

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John Merryman replied on Apr. 7, 2013 @ 00:39 GMT
Marvel,

If it was easy, there would be no challenge.

Tom,

That seems awfully philosophical. I guess if it's an approved source, it's acceptable.

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Lev Goldfarb wrote on Apr. 7, 2013 @ 15:11 GMT
Hi fellows,

Let me try an impossible task: to motivate you to take seriously "it from bit" idea, but of course without taking bits themselves seriously.

Here is a simple question:

Why is it that all objects/processes in Nature fall into the structurally similar classes (of stars, galaxies, stones, trees, etc)? Of course, classes evolve as are all objects. Why has the Universe been organized that way, via classes, from the very beginning?

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Lev Goldfarb replied on Apr. 7, 2013 @ 15:39 GMT
Apology for a misprint.I mistakenly dropped the word at the end of the question:

should read "the structurally similar classes of objects".

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James A Putnam replied on Apr. 7, 2013 @ 16:54 GMT
Hi Lev,

"Why is it that all objects/processes in Nature fall into the structurally similar classes (of stars, galaxies, stones, trees, etc)? Of course, classes evolve as are all objects. Why has the Universe been organized that way, via classes, from the very beginning?"

I think that the answer is:

Efficiency of purpose. Those limitations and those profound resulting objects, are evidence that the universe is controlled right from its beginning with all effects having been prescribed for. It occurs that way for the originally set purpose of maximizing the use of the genetic code. The purpose of the genetic code is to maximize the variety of life within the constraints of a limited code. The code has to be limited because it is confined by the existence of its originally set purpose. Purpose involves setting limits. The limits result from all effects being due to a single cause. A single cause, and the fundamental unity that it represents, is limited in its capabilities.

The organization of the mechanical aspects of the universe results from limitation of what is possible to result from a single original theoretical cause. Unity is the restriction that limits the kinds of varieties that are possible; while allowing for variations of kind within a limited number of types of effects. The types of effects are limited to a number that is possible in a fundamentally unified universe. Unity is confining, yet, purpose requires unity. Infinite possibilities without a limited number of classes are incompatible with purpose. Infinite variety is necessarily confined by finite classes so that the original purpose may be served.

James Putnam

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John Merryman replied on Apr. 7, 2013 @ 21:43 GMT
Lev,

Have you ever seen this TED talk by Jill Taylor Bolte?

She is a neuroanatomist who had a severe stroke in her left hemisphere. If you watch it, consider how she relates the functions of the left brain and right brain, to the relationship between bit and it. The raw input of energy from the present, vs. the linear organization of it. Early on she makes the observation about how reality is one big soup of energy and how the left brain organizes it. She says it is all just perfect and here. Basically, as Wheeler says, the answer must be in here somewhere, but questions and answers arise out of linear cause and effect, the functions of the left brain. If it is only the right brain, there is no answer, because there is no question. Thinking is a function of making distinctions and we have found, at the quantum level, there are no clear distinctions, no complete linear cause and effect. Just light bouncing around. When we apply our basic logical assumptions to fundamental realities, the resulting insights are difficult to write into clear and concise formalisms.

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Lev Goldfarb wrote on Apr. 8, 2013 @ 12:34 GMT
Thanks Tom!

What gradually dawn on me is that the concept of structured event (as we proposed it) might be the key to understanding both the temporal and 'informational' part of reality: it seems that the appearance of any spatial event must be guided by its blueprint, 'informational' structured event. If it will turn out out to be true, Paul, than indeed we have "it from bit" (but, of course, without any hollow bits).

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Lev Goldfarb replied on Apr. 8, 2013 @ 12:55 GMT
Apologies! I accidentally started a new thread (I haven't been here for a long while ;-) ).

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Thomas Howard Ray replied on Apr. 8, 2013 @ 13:36 GMT
Lev, you know I'm a fan. This is nice " ... it seems that the appearance of any spatial event must be guided by its blueprint, 'informational' structured event ..." for several reasons -- one of which is that it accommodates the classical time reversibility of a continuous field. This has vast implications for the quantum mechanics that lies at the foundation of computability -- as well as for the possibility of quantum computing without superposition -- and for QM interpretations that have been marginalized, such as John C. Cramer's transactional interpretation, the Bohm-de Broglie pilot wave theory, Wheeler-Feynman absorber theory and even Everett's many worlds hypothesis -- because all of these share the advantage, over Bell's theorem, of obviating nonlocality by mathematical completeness.

I mean by that, self aware domain sensitivity -- "guided by its blueprint" -- as opposed to assigning nonlocal meaning to vanishing functions obtained by linear numerical implementation of a model. I think ETS restores a dynamic center to the computational art, more in line with how we observe that nature actually works -- much like the non-vanishing torsion of Joy Christian's topological framework that explains quantum correlations locally and naturally.

Tom

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John Merryman replied on Apr. 8, 2013 @ 15:24 GMT
Lev,

Then there is the opposing argument that the blueprint arises as a description of the event. Bit from it. It seems as the speciation of complex structure multiplies, it does so in an upward and outward fashion, that is not readily visible from the top down perspective, even to the system itself, since the eventual collapse of this structure is more a fracturing between the hard and evident parts, as the original soft, formative processes evaporate.

Blueprints are static renderings, but nature is inherently dynamic, yet this dynamic is also interactive, so there does arise distinctions and they develop. To assume a foundational blueprint would be a form of Platoism and this simply poses the question of where it comes from, only kicking the can down the road. Wouldn't it be more effective to try to figure out how that blueprint comes into being, as a solidifying structure of dynamic processes?

That the blueprints evolve upward, rather than being handed down from above.

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John Merryman wrote on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 19:25 GMT
Tom,

"I don't know, John. What do you think?"

I've been trying to tell you what I think. Obviously not much of it sinks in.

"the singularity is an attempt to reconstruct the concept of nothing from that mathematical placeholder."

Why?"

The idea of space as three dimensional originates from modeling it as a three vector coordinate system, which requires the...

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Paul Reed replied on Apr. 11, 2013 @ 06:44 GMT
John

You are not measuring space, but things, which implies space. However, this is not where the concept of 3 dimension stems from. This is just the ultimate simplification of reality that retains ontological correctness at that level of conceptualisation. In reality there are far more. Dimension is a specific aspect of spatial footprint. At the existential level, the number of...

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John Merryman replied on Apr. 13, 2013 @ 10:52 GMT
Paul,

Are there an infinity of objects?

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Paul Reed replied on Apr. 13, 2013 @ 16:29 GMT
John

Not for us. But what has that got to do with it?

Paul

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T H Ray wrote on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 21:19 GMT
John,

You write, "The idea of space as three dimensional originates from modeling it as a three vector coordinate system, which requires the zero point."

Where did you get that idea? Just making it up as you go along? You said "the singularity is an attempt to reconstruct the concept of nothing from that mathematical placeholder."

I asked, "Why?"

Now you're saying...

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T H Ray replied on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 21:20 GMT
Sorry, didn't mean to start another thread.

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John Merryman replied on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 23:53 GMT
Tom,

I fully appreciate the pushback. I know I'm not an expert. Yes, I do try to put together a bunch of ideas I know I'm not fluent in and am in water far beyond my depth. Why? Am I delusional? Possibly.

So why do I do it? Because I get into these conversations making one very basic and simple point and then get terribly wound up in the consequences.

The point is whether time is this vector from past to future, or the effect of dynamic change. So laugh. Go believe your fabric of spacetime and all its wormholes, multiverses and all wonder of unicorn thinking.

Me, I think there is something seriously wrong with the picture and if I try to come up with some impressionistic ideas from the various puzzle pieces floating around, it really is no crime. Even to the professionals, given what they come up with. We all do live in this reality. Why do various groups think they have a monopoly on understanding or owning it?

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John Merryman replied on Apr. 10, 2013 @ 23:59 GMT
"Why do various groups think they have a monopoly on understanding or owning it?"

And then abuse that monopoly beyond all possible reason.

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Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on Apr. 12, 2013 @ 02:50 GMT
While searching for Wheeler's paper Bit from It I stumbled upon fqxi member Cristi Stoica's interesting blog entitled

"Bit from It" vs. "It from Bit"

Sounds familiar! He should have been credited when the contest was announced. The link opens two browser windows - just close the one that does not contain the 'Unitary Flow' bliog.

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John Merryman replied on Apr. 12, 2013 @ 10:35 GMT
Vladimir,

It does seem to me this contest raises the same essential arguments as the analog, vs. digital contest.

My view of what Cristi is defending, of Wheeler's argument, is the inherent subjectivity of knowledge. That objective knowledge is fundamentally a contradiction of terms. There is no "God's eye" view, or as Tegmark states it, the bird's eye view. Knowledge is focus and specificity. Information is a unit of knowledge. We build our store of knowledge out of these discrete units/measurements. That is what the rational left brain does. It is up to the non-linear right brain to sense the connectivity of these points of information.

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Paul Reed replied on Apr. 12, 2013 @ 11:26 GMT
John (Vladimir)

“It does seem to me this contest raises the same essential arguments as the analog, vs. digital contest”

Obviously. Because although the form of words differs, the question really revolves around what is physical existence, and how does it occur. Without that, one cannot discern whether it is ‘digital or analog’, the differentiation between occurrence and information thereof, and then how one can extrapolate the former from the latter, etc, etc.

Put simply, one needs to know what ‘it’ is first, otherwise everything else can become ‘noise’, and trying to address one aspect at a time is not an efficient way of proceeding. Indeed, reading the piece, yet again bring into focus the essential issues which need to be resolved in a cohesive manner:

-there is only one form of physical existence, it does not operate in radically different ways depending on size, or whatever. An example being Tom’s cat/dog. The real point here is that these do not exist, physically. They are a conception of existence at a much higher level than what actually occurs, ie they are based on superficial physical attributes. Dog/cat, is really a sequence of physically existent states, which gives, like all such ‘objects’, the illusion of persistence.

-we can only have knowledge of/information about, ie we cannot ‘directly access’ reality. Hence we are comparing knowledge with other knowledge and eventually arriving at something which we can deem to be the equivalent of ‘it’, because we are in an existentially closed system. But this does not mean that ‘everything is information’, it is still independent, but possibly limited. Just that the differentiation between it and information can only have meaning within that closed system.

-the processing by the sensory system/brain of the independent physical input received is of no consequence to the physical circumstance, all it does is enable awareness of the input which the creation of a perception of it.

Paul

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Vladimir F. Tamari replied on Apr. 12, 2013 @ 15:33 GMT
John, Paul

Yes its is similar to the digital/analog question.

It is true that we can only observe things subjectively, but ..well I am still working out what follows the 'but' in my essay !

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Mikalai Birukou wrote on Apr. 18, 2013 @ 15:54 GMT
Brendan,

I have entered my essay into contest on the 7th of April, using email/password from year 2011. The webform didn't seem to take any time to upload a pdf file, making me suspicious of a possible technical fault. Can you check that a file was actually received on your side. And if no, I am attaching it to this comment.

Mikalai.

attachments: essaybitisit.pdf

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Paul Reed replied on Apr. 19, 2013 @ 04:59 GMT
Mikalai (Brendan)

Agreed. I could not get the counter to work neither did the form give the appearance that it had received any substance. But I presumed this was my lack of techical knowledge, as I got a 'received' response, and I also presume they are awaiting a number of receipts before publishing. Mine was submitted on the 2nd

Paul

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Mikalai Birukou replied on Apr. 19, 2013 @ 15:57 GMT
It all worked. The essay is up.

Thanks to FQXi team.

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Lev Goldfarb wrote on Apr. 19, 2013 @ 14:42 GMT
Brendan,

I thought that by announcing the priority given to FQXi members in this contest, the acceptance criteria might also be tightened, but it appears that exactly the opposite is the case! Is the number of the entries so important that it overrides the most important consideration---the quality of the entries?

No wonder that one of the main points discussed after the last contest---the quality of the essay evaluation---cannot be adequately dealt with when the number of essays is so artificially inflated!

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Philip Gibbs replied on Apr. 20, 2013 @ 08:13 GMT
I thought the idea was that the community rating sorts the quality. I would not like the contest if the essays were pre-filtered any more than the rules require.

You are being too hard on entries so far. I think there are some interesting points being made already. If you don't have time to read them all carefully then wait for the initial rating to sort them or filter by your own criteria.

Since you are so critical of our efforts I hope you will be entering soon to show us how it can be done better :-)

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Lev Goldfarb replied on Apr. 20, 2013 @ 14:36 GMT
Dear Phil,

Yes, I'm preparing an essay, and I didn't mean to be super-critical at all.

I have witnessed what was happening during the last three contests (and I participated in two of them), and I'm sure that in each case, a large number (and the quality) of essays was the main obstacle towards a more *enjoyable, interesting, and productive* contest.

The structure of the human mind is such that beyond certain number, say around 40 essays, our mind is loosing its effectiveness in analyzing and comparing the content. Incidentally, for similar reasons, the sizes of classes in primary and secondary schools are generally kept under that number. But, alas, these considerations don't seem to be the guiding ones for the organizers. ;-) The declaration that the number of entries was, let's say, over 150 or 200 becomes overriding consideration. Unfortunately, it may seem from the 'outside', that what matters is the size of the finally selected set of essays (which is under 40) and not the number of original entries.

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Paul Reed replied on Apr. 21, 2013 @ 06:05 GMT
Lev

Agreed. But the issue there is the concept of community rating. Apart from the essay per se, the ensuing debate gives those particpating the opportunity to 'exlain themselves' both by a critque of others and a defence of the critique of others. That should then easily enable those effecting the judging to separate of the 'wheat from the chaff', and the issue of number of enries is thereby not such a problem.

But the rating system skews all this, because the debate which follows becomes a case of 'good point, oh by the way in my essay...', vote for me and I will vote for you, friends voting for friends, amateurs effecting judgements which they have no knowledge to substantiate, etc. Given the structure of the forum, ie its visibility when you enter it, then the 'celebrity' syndrome comes into play, ie he/she is a celebrity because he/she is a celebrity. An essay attracts more noise because it has noise. It is also inherently flawed to have participants rating each other, literally. As I said above, the rating is in the critique/defence thereof amongst the participants, not giving it marks out of 10.

Paul

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Anton Lorenz Vrba wrote on Apr. 23, 2013 @ 00:48 GMT
I note a refreshing change in this years competition - the community rating is displayed.

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Jayakar Johnson Joseph wrote on Apr. 30, 2013 @ 05:56 GMT
I think ‘Bit’ is the core of paradox, when we think of other than particle scenario.

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John Merryman wrote on May. 11, 2013 @ 14:06 GMT
This contest does seem to be coming up a bit light, this time around. So far, 31 entries. Last contest, by about the 7 week mark, there were 74 entries.

I think the main reason being the question is simply not as broad. Also that the rules made clear that winners would be significantly skewed to FQXI members had to be a little discouraging to outsiders.

Admittedly I did not invest nearly as much time writing my entry, as I spent trying to figure out what to write, so both issues affected my participation.

I do notice I've quickly garnered several negative scores, but far more limited response, so it seems most look upon this as a contest, rather than an opportunity to exchange ideas. That's understandable, but given the stated preferences in the rules, futile.

Possibly if FQXI wants to maintain interest in outside participation, by those interested in ideas and not just winning contests, they should make scoring contingent on commenting. This would mean other participants have to make a comment under their own name in order to score an entry. If people have opinions, they should at least express them. This current method seems promote spineless spamming.

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Lev Goldfarb replied on May. 11, 2013 @ 21:31 GMT
John,

As I suggested above, I wouldn't worry about the number of participants: I think the topic *is* popular/fashionable and we probably will see many entries.

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John Merryman replied on May. 12, 2013 @ 14:49 GMT
Lev,

I'm not disparaging the topic. It would be difficult to ask a broader question than the last; What of our basic assumptions are wrong? There will undoubtfully be many entries closer to the deadline and it will likely be around the number of entries in the contests prior to the last.

Mostly my peeve was getting a few bottom scores from people without the grace to comment. It falls in the category of spam. While it is convenient for FQXI to have this free grading system, some accountability would go a long way to maintaining a healthy debate atmosphere.

I have to say in previous contests, I've tended to mostly score contestants I've conversed with and then mostly middling to high scores, since I've only engaged in others entries where I did have some grounds for agreement. So I can see where, on the surface, this wouldn't serve the purpose of weeding out bad entries and generally paring down the field to a more manageable level, since most people are not likely to engage in conversations they see no interest in, yet the result will be a lack of scores for those entries that don't attract attention and that would be a form of grading in itself.

As it is, one of the main issues has been the degree of tactical scoring in previous contests and this might serve to reduce that.

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Lev Goldfarb replied on May. 12, 2013 @ 17:48 GMT
John,

As you might know I have been talking about these issues for several years now, mainly because I have been on the receiving end. But alas, the organizers do not seem to attach to the organizational side---and probably to the contest themselves---sufficient importance to make it a much more *enjoyable* experience for us, the participants. It is quite possible that this attitude may have already had a negative effect on all possible participants, including FQXi members, and hence the present attempt to woo these members by offering them "free entrance".

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John Brodix Merryman wrote on May. 29, 2013 @ 09:48 GMT
Seems to be a loss of momentum and focus here.

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Akinbo Ojo wrote on May. 31, 2013 @ 12:46 GMT
Hi All,

I am new to this forum but I have enjoyed the flow and exchange of information. I note the criticisms about how essay entries are judged and this can only make things better. I had looked forward to submitting and an entry and I almost cancelled this when the topic came out!

But in retrospect, it is a topic that will take us near the 'secret of the Old One' as Einstein wished. I have made my entry.

I would suggest a step-wise judging process. First 40, then say a month later, remaining 20, then last 5, then winner. At each step, members and public must be negative in their criticism while the finalist in the 'witness box' answers and rebuts their criticism (I know the FQXi advocate courtesy and positive commentary). The aim is that the 'dialectic and reductio ad absurdum arguments that will arise from discussing the Winning Essays must lead to something of a concrete statement at the end of the contest, i.e. at the end there should be a well publicized foundational authoritative FQXi STATEMENT on 1. How the universe stores and processes its information, 2. Is IT actually from BIT or viceversa? 3. The following underlying assumptions are probably wrong.

Anyhow, I believe we are getting there...

All the best and regards,

Akinbo

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Jun. 1, 2013 @ 04:34 GMT
Brendan,

Are all comments being displayed as they appear? "http://www.fqxi.org/community/blogs" doesn't seem to be keeping up with the comment flow.

Thanks,

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Lev Goldfarb replied on Jun. 1, 2013 @ 18:46 GMT
Obviously not those related to the essays.

Quite appropriately, some 'sanitation' measures have been implemented. ;-))

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Lev Goldfarb wrote on Jun. 2, 2013 @ 17:36 GMT
Brendan,

Is it possible to add the "edit" option--present for the blog posts--to the essay's posts?

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Lawrence B Crowell wrote on Jun. 11, 2013 @ 17:35 GMT
Grievance time! This is not against FQXi, but against some individual(s) who give community scores to the essays. I notice some new essays were delivered up yesterday 6/10/13. Almost instantly they were all awarded a score of one. I have yet to look at any of these new essays; I might get to that this evening. However, I have a difficult time thinking that all of these essays are of such poor quality, and a #1 should really mean either utterly wrong, false or of poor reasoning, that the authors should be treated this way. This has happened as well with previous essays delivered up. I would like who ever is doing this to cease. Maybe the moderators should check the voting records to see if there is anyone who has given ones to all or most essays and to have these scores removed.

LC

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Lev Goldfarb replied on Jun. 11, 2013 @ 18:45 GMT
Lawrence,

I'm surprised that you just now noticed these things, when they have been occurring in all the contests I participated in (2nd, 3d and the present 5th).

I have consistently complained that such scoring practices completely poison the atmosphere of a contest but to no avail.

However, if one were to immediately isolate such practice in this contest from this point on, what all of us will do with our previous 1's and 2's? For example, I have three 1's and two 2's.

As I mentioned repeatedly, this situation is directly associated with the lack of *real* (not written) entrance requirements for the contest, about which I also mentioned in my recent post here.

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Lawrence B Crowell replied on Jun. 11, 2013 @ 19:06 GMT
I had noticed this, it is just that now the scoring of ones was so blatant and obvious that I was annoyed. It was a blanket napalming of papers with a score of one with probably no regard or real reading of these papers.

BTW, how do you find out what the individual scores you are awarded?

LC

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Lev Goldfarb replied on Jun. 11, 2013 @ 19:34 GMT
I have been doing it on a regular basis, after each score. ;-)

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adel sadeq wrote on Jun. 17, 2013 @ 23:00 GMT
Hi All,

I will be submitting my essay soon. But what I want to know is what kind of people who are categorized as "community". Are they all physicists or philosophers or general scientists or what? I am curious that is all, my guess is they are a mixture that is what the scoring reflects,not very perfect to say the least, in my opinion. From past essays I noticed that the judges did not take the community scores into account, or am I wrong.

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Don Limuti wrote on Jun. 18, 2013 @ 19:12 GMT
Hi Adel,

First check the FAQ's for the contest. Here is my take of the contest, and please anyone (Brendan) if I got it wrong, please correct.

1. The community consists of all contest entrants and all FQXi members. I believe there are about 100 to 200 members. You can find out who they are by googling FQXi.org members.

2. The members are all philosophers and physicists most associated with a university. It is an interesting mix from all over the world. Almost all members have bios and info online. See who you are sympathetic with and use them as your three desired judges.

3. All FQXI members can vote, their votes count more than those of entrants. Most members are not in the contest and can vote after the contest closes. There may or may not be a little home cooking going on (FQXi members vote for FQXi entrants) but it is a natural effect. There are a lot of difficult to read entries, and it is a lot easier to read stuff written by your colleges. I have the notion that we do not get to see the final community scores, but only the scores at the end of the contest. There is a period of time after the contest ends where only FQXi members can vote.

4. This contest has a new interesting rule. If a member enters it is a requirement that they comment on 5 essays written by non members.

5. I hope to enter this contest also.

Hope this helps,

Don L.

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adel sadeq replied on Jun. 18, 2013 @ 23:02 GMT
Hi Don,

Thanks for the info, that was really helpful. My essay involves a system with a lot of simulations that I have done two years back. Trying to remember a lot of stuff for the final write up has been a nightmare, I guess that is why I was lazy to find out about the members on my own.

But do you really think these guys really care about what we think, I will be surprised if they do. I did have a brief communication with Dr Tegmark who was kind to reply. Also, since members cannot vote that explains some of the erratic votes so far. Thanks again.

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Lawrence B Crowell wrote on Jun. 18, 2013 @ 22:59 GMT
I checked the essays this afternoon and the new ones posted today all have score point = 1. The one-point troll has struck again! This person could not have read all these essays! I have no idea whether these new essays are good or bad, I have not looked at them yet. Yet it is clear there is somebody, or several people, who wants to give ones to suppress the average scores.

LC

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Eckard Blumschein replied on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 08:47 GMT
Lawrence,

I am not the troll, and you might agree with me on that scoring without previous discussion is unfair. I guess, the troll rather criticized that virtually all essays did not fit into his own view.

What about my own essay, I would appreciate a huge number of lowest scores on condition the scorer did previously take issue and revealed at least one weak point in my argumentation. I do not appreciate lazy and coward rejection of my arguments just because they are at variance with a particular opinion or the common belief that for instance Einstein's or Wheeler's theories are definitely not wrong.

On the other hand, I feel myself in position to judge for instance the fact that an author used ten times in his abstract the expression "onto..." as an indication of weakness. I would not score Wheeler ten but also not one because I consider him honest.

Regards,

Eckard

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Jason Mark Wolfe replied on Jun. 20, 2013 @ 08:22 GMT
Maybe those 1's should be dropped, with appropriate explanation. Maybe future contests should include a justification for why it got the score it got. A human answer is less generic, more unique, then just a number.

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Lev Goldfarb wrote on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 12:46 GMT
I suddenly realized that it would have somewhat improved the scoring situation if the contest rules contained a short list of recommendations for how and when to assign low scores (1 - 3 or 1 - 4). For example, a score of "1" in the cases satisfying *all or most* of these (tentative) conditions:

1. The essay does not really address the proposed topic

2. The essay is organized extremely poorly

3. The essay is written in a very poor English

4. The essay is very difficult to read

5. The essay does not contain any original ideas

6. The essay shows a lack of basic scientific knowledge

Of course, the essays satisfying all these conditions should not be admitted to the contest. And quite possibly they are not admitted, so that we should not have the scores of "1" at all!

Perhaps the *choice* of scores, then, should not contain "1".

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Philip Gibbs wrote on Jun. 20, 2013 @ 10:37 GMT
The feature of the voting that I find to be of most concern is that there is a big disadvantage of having a larger number of ratings from the community. For example, it would be better to enter the final with 10 ratings and an average of 4 than 40 ratings and an average of 5. This is because the expert panel are likely to vote good essays higher but the number of ratings from the community is used as a weighting so the low community vote counts against those with more ratings. For example, if both these essays get 6 ratings from the panel (weighted x 3) with an average of 7, then the one with the community rating of 4 will win. He will have an overall average of 5.9 compared to an average of 5.6 for the one with the community rating of 5.

This could be fixed by calculating the community rating and panel rating and taking the straight average of those two numbers.

One effect of this is that it is better to enter the competition at the last minute rather than right at the beginning. If you are near the top from the start you get more ratings and this holds your score down compared to those who enter late when the panel votes. I still prefer to enter early because I want to be involved in the discussion for as long as possible but it is a shame that this gives a big disadvantage.

By the way I don't think we have any FQXi member entries yet. The number of entries usually doubles in the last week though.

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Lev Goldfarb replied on Jun. 20, 2013 @ 14:50 GMT
I agree: this is *another* obvious flaw.

However, as I mentioned several years ago, given the variety of the participants, the main flaw is to allow the participants themselves to rank the essays.

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adel sadeq replied on Jun. 21, 2013 @ 16:41 GMT
Hi Philip,

I had the alias name of qsa before, and I posted many questions to you. But what I am wondering now is how are the winning essays picked. Do the judges panel make the decision or the voting by the "community" or is it a mixture of some sort.

Do you really think the FQXI community members care for the essays and vote in any substantial way. They are all who's who and I doubt they have the time for us. Thanks.

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Philip Gibbs replied on Jun. 21, 2013 @ 17:08 GMT
It is a mixture, details are given in the rules see http://www.fqxi.org/community/essay under "Judging"

I know others disagree but I think that overall the scoring works quite well but there are some small changes that could improve it.

I don't know how many of the FQXi members give ratings. Probably it is not that many since they changed the rules to try to encourage more to rate.

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Philip Gibbs wrote on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 09:13 GMT
One of the essays formerly at http://www.fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/1613 has disappeared. Is it a technical fault or was it withdrawn?

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H. G. replied on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 10:59 GMT
Philip,

I have asked FQXI to eliminate my entry.

You can find the correspondence in the attachment.

Henk

attachments: Fwd__Re__eliminating_essay.rtf

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Philip Gibbs replied on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 11:49 GMT
Sorry to hear that Sydney. All the best.

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H. G. replied on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 12:28 GMT
Thanks, Philip.

Although, I don't regret because I personally do not think this contest is some serious science.

Therefore, I sent my essay to viXra (http://vixra.org/abs/1305.0089) and started a blog (http://www.odavdw.blogspot.com).

Henk

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Jun. 29, 2013 @ 19:30 GMT
Hi Folks,

It's good to see an active exchange of ideas, and a lot of familiar names in the roster of authors contributing essays this year. I got my submission in on the last day, this time, but not at the last minute. I don't expect to see it today, therefore, but I don't imagine it will be the last one to appear either.

I look forward to again being a part of the FQXi Physics essay contests, and sharing this space with all of you. Good luck to all. And a special thank you for the encouragement of friends.

Have Fun!

Jonathan

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Anonymous wrote on Jun. 30, 2013 @ 09:45 GMT
Really, I do not like this system where low evaluations are given without arguments, even without reading of an essay. The first evaluation I got in less than an hour after the essay was published.

I think that it is necessary a few days that a lot of argumenst are exchanged, that evaluation is allowed. Besides, the purpose of this context is exchange of arguments, and this fast evaluations do not serve to this purpose.

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adel sadeq replied on Jul. 1, 2013 @ 00:23 GMT
This problem has come up many times. I think this has nothing to do with evaluation, it is done on purpose for good reason, so that no artificial voting raises the score and offsets older essays with high ranking with many votes. That is my take anyway.

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Marcel-Marie LeBel wrote on Jun. 30, 2013 @ 17:33 GMT
o.k.! I got a subject for my essay. Instead of tackling Wheeler’s gedanken, I go back to the principal assumption. (I know, I am late since this was the last contest subject). The fact is that the gedanken is based on the wave-particle duality from the double slit experiment. Well, guess what.

At the time, quantum mechanics was full of surprises and we were so ready for the next one. So, the wave-particle duality was quickly accepted as Weird rather than Wrong. Worst, is was translated into a direct ontological equivalence. I mean, appearance of wave is a wave and appearance of a particle is a particle. We got neither. A soliton is both, in a way. Solitons marching in phase will act as waves but at the detector they surrender a specific quantum of energy, Solitons are quantum of EM waves.

The conclusion is that light wave interference is wrong. Only the appearance of...It should have been obvious by the moment we got single particle or photons interfering with themselves... So what does produce the pattern observed in the double slit experiment? Read my essay...if it ever comes out.

Marcel,

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Georgina Woodward wrote on Jul. 1, 2013 @ 03:55 GMT
If the scores given, but not particular essays voted on, was made public for each voting participant there would be a social incentive to give more reasonable and even generous scores and not to give out lots of extremely low scores. I think that would be an unpopular change though, which might backfire by discouraging voting at all.

A check list for each number on the scale 1 to 10 would be helpful as it would make the voting a little bit more objective. Like school student achievement targets, which either are or are not achieved. Maybe that could be considered for future contests.

With 5 looking like the new 10 there seems a built in unfairness at this stage of the contest as an essay might have to be considered exceptionally to merit a vote much higher than the front runners current scores, though they will have already had higher scores than their average given. I guess that is just another advantage to entering early.

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adel sadeq replied on Jul. 1, 2013 @ 04:31 GMT
In the end it is all in the hands of the judges. they can vote down a top scorer who is in the range of 5 by a score of 1 and make a score of 2 a winner by giving it a mere score of 4. But anyway, IMHO I don't see a strong correlation between a good idea and the community score, especially that not everybody scores the same essay.

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Marcel-Marie LeBel wrote on Jul. 2, 2013 @ 16:12 GMT
Honestly! I can't expect to be voted, win, and all the blurb.

All I hope for is to be read, understood and maybe, influence someone's thinking. And if it is really going somewhere.. I hope they just have the decency to acknowledge where it came from.

all the bests,

Marcel,

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M. V. Vasilyeva wrote on Jul. 3, 2013 @ 12:22 GMT
LOL Brendan could have saved those men the trouble and upload the new essays with the vote of 1 in both community and public rating already plugged in.

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Lev Goldfarb replied on Jul. 3, 2013 @ 15:04 GMT
Dear Marina,

Please don't take it personally, and welcome to our neglected pseudo-scientific house. ;-))

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John Brodix Merryman replied on Jul. 3, 2013 @ 19:12 GMT
I would imagine the moderators know who votes where and what.

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Lev Goldfarb replied on Jul. 3, 2013 @ 19:36 GMT
So what does it change?

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Lev Goldfarb wrote on Jul. 4, 2013 @ 15:33 GMT
I want to raise one important but controversial issue concerning the main difficulties with the organization of various "contests" on the hot and controversial topics in physics, including the FQXi contests.

I believe that---in view of the presently (largely unrecognized) pre-transitional period in science---the main difficulty with such contests is the selection of *the right panel of judges*. Put simply, science have *never* experienced the transitions of such magnitude, and for that reason the vast majority of scientists do not even admit such possibility.

1. Most professional physicists, for obvious reasons, are too attached to the conventional formal models and cannot accept the reality of such pre-transitional period.

2. Most non-professional participants, even if some of them may feel it in their guts, are not 'trained' to understand that *the only way* to really push things along requires a proposal of a radically new *formal* language that would suggest *what* has been missing so far.

So the main obstacle *in the scientific community* is the missing realization of the *unprecedented depth* of the present scientific crisis. So we are faced with the 'chicken & egg' situation: the depth of the crisis cannot be evaluated until the new formal language, or formalism, emerges.

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M. V. Vasilyeva replied on Jul. 4, 2013 @ 18:56 GMT
Lev,

you're so right, but surely you understand the problem in suggesting that people stop using their familiar language and learn a new, better one. I know you're fluent in at least 2 human languages (and speak countless computer ones :), but I am sure you remember the struggles you went through when learning your second human language. The reality is that people are not going to invest...

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Lev Goldfarb replied on Jul. 4, 2013 @ 19:28 GMT
Marina,

"I understand that you propose to limit the participation to the highly educated professionals."

No, not at all!

I am sure that among the 'non-professionals' there are some (and I've seen quite a few) interesting entries that should be admitted.

Marina, as to your rating proposal, you appear to be too generous to the professionals. ;-)

The idea of giving a very short reason for the score is a good one.

In general, as I have already mentioned about two years ago, the present, neglected, format of the contests has encouraged extensive *non-scientific* lobbying instead of the more productive scientific discussions.

Personally, I see absolutely no difficulties with developing a much more productive format for the contests, but I don't want to spend time discussing it now since I have not seen much interest in it by the organizers. ;-)

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M. V. Vasilyeva replied on Jul. 4, 2013 @ 20:37 GMT
LOL Lev are you suggesting that I'm buttering up to the professionals?

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Anton Lorenz Vrba wrote on Jul. 6, 2013 @ 09:02 GMT
Hi, Am I an Internet anti-talent?

I cannot find the link that takes me to the overview page listing all the entries

All I manage to find is

"Stay tuned ... FQXi will be announcing its new Essay Contest soon!"

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Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on Jul. 6, 2013 @ 09:59 GMT
Anton

Something strange is going on in the fqxi webmaster's computer.

The entries are still there from: this link

but the line saying "rate this essay" is gone from each essay page.

It must be that all these 1 ratings seen here and there have freaked the system !

Have no fear I am sure Brendan and staff will sort things out soon.

Vladimir

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Jul. 6, 2013 @ 16:35 GMT
Indeed,

One can navigate to the list of essays from the front page via the Forum tab at the top, but all other links to the essays on the site now dead-end. This is of course disappointing. And authors newly posted like myself would wish to begin rating essays, once they are read, but hopefully they will sort things out.

Regards,

Jonathan

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John Brodix Merryman wrote on Jul. 6, 2013 @ 18:48 GMT
As the must read entry, I nominate William C. McHarris' It from Bit from It from Bit... Nature and Nonlinear Logic.

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WANG Xiong wrote on Jul. 7, 2013 @ 03:44 GMT
web has problem?

can't rate and comment

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Georgina Woodward replied on Jul. 7, 2013 @ 06:07 GMT
Brendan, is it OK to access the competition via the forum page link or would you rather we didn't until the problem is sorted out?

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Joe Fisher wrote on Jul. 7, 2013 @ 15:11 GMT
I would like to thank those fellow essay submitters who took the time to read my essay and had the nerve to rate it. To be judged by one’s peers is one thing; to be judged and positively rated by one’s intellectual superiors is quite another matter.

Joe Fisher

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Anton Lorenz Vrba replied on Jul. 7, 2013 @ 18:04 GMT
Joe, a secret to success is never to admit intellectual inferiority!

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Pentcho Valev wrote on Jul. 7, 2013 @ 19:53 GMT
The essay contest is currently closed. Stay tuned ... FQXi will be announcing its new Essay Contest soon!

No explanations from FQXi? No angry inquiries from contestants? Orwell's world?

Pentcho Valev

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Lawrence B Crowell wrote on Jul. 7, 2013 @ 20:00 GMT
I was under the impression that voting for essays would continue until the end of July. The conetst rules page seems to be gone. The contest scoring appears to be closed now. Is this permanent or a temporary closing due to a technical issue?

LC

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Jul. 7, 2013 @ 21:27 GMT
My guess is that there was a technical issue..

If they detected evidence of tampering with the rating system, the current state of having everyone locked out of the rating system could be a fail-safe, until they figure out how to selectively lock out the culprits, and prevent further tampering. I guess it's better happening right now, rather than during the final week of voting. But as Lawrence said, the rules had stated that voting will be open through month's end. I imagine the page with the rules is still there, if it was bookmarked beforehand, but all the links even to the list of essays are dead-ends, except the one in the Forum page.

All the Best,

Jonathan

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M. V. Vasilyeva wrote on Jul. 7, 2013 @ 22:35 GMT
LOL who else thought that this was because of something they have said? I saw it Fri evening, but no-one else complained and there was no explanation from Brendan. I thought that my IP was singled out as a potential troublemaker lol. I cleaned up all my posts in this thread, thinking that they were the cause (I could think of nothing else). We will see an explanation tomorrow when Brendan returns to work after the weekend.

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Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Jul. 8, 2013 @ 02:25 GMT
Sorry Marina,

I never even got the chance to say anything so edgy as to warrant a response, but I know what you mean. I too thought I'd done something wrong, that had locked me out of the system, but assumed it was a technical issue - rather than a personal one - early on. I do hope they get things running again soon, however.

And of course, there is the question of the lost time - especially for those who had hoped to rate a significant number of essays this weekend.

All the Best,

Jonathan

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Vladimir F. Tamari replied on Jul. 8, 2013 @ 14:38 GMT
No need to feel guilty Jonathan and Marina! If check the essays listed by the date they were posted you will see there were 17 of them rated 1, a couple had a rating of 2 and a few others where not rated. The older ones had reasonable ratings. That is clear evidence that some misguided soul tried to pull down the newcomers' ratings. What I do not understand is that something like this occurred towards the end of last year's contest - some response other than "closing" the contest should have been planned for this sort of thing.

fqXi should fully refund our ITS and BITS and give everyone (except the wrongdoers) free popcorn!

Vladimir

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Vladimir F. Tamari replied on Jul. 8, 2013 @ 14:57 GMT
No need to feel guilty Jonathan and Marina! If you check the essays listed by the date they were posted you will see there were 17 of them rated 1, a couple had a rating of 2 (by 2 people) and a few others where not rated. The older ones had reasonable ratings. That is clear evidence that some misguided soul tried to pull down the newcomers' ratings. What I do not understand is that something like this occurred towards the end of last year's contest - some response other than "closing" the contest should have been planned for this sort of thing.

fqXi should fully refund our ITS and BITS and give everyone (except the wrongdoers) free popcorn!

Vladimir

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Philip Gibbs wrote on Jul. 8, 2013 @ 17:39 GMT
rating is back on, phew! I was getting worried.

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Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Jul. 8, 2013 @ 18:12 GMT
Yes Phil,

A sigh of relief, and then it's back to the races - trying to catch up with rating all the essays I've read so far. But I'm glad the system is back on line.

Have Fun,

Jonathan

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Chenxi Guo wrote on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 09:20 GMT
Edwin Eugene Klingman:

I agree with your statements: Yet conjectured strings, branes, axions, anyons, super-symmetry, multiple dimensions and universes have only imagined reality. Not so gravity.

I think that gravitation is the cohesion property of matter, it cannot be derived from other theories. What we can do is to depict it in any language you like, that’s it. It’s the nature.

Good luck in the contest

Guo Chenxi

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Lev Goldfarb wrote on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 16:20 GMT
I will stick my neck out and predict that, right now, to adequately approach "information" via physical theories is quite futile. Why?

1. Today, the most appropriate, or natural, way to approach "information" is via biological information processing capabilities.

2. At the same time, we all should remember that:

"The fathers of the Scientific Revolution intentionally excluded mind from the scientific agenda: they wanted to (and did) build science based on the much more familiar, spatial, considerations, while the mind, they agreed, is of non-spatial nature."

So, despite the artificial, or inappropriate, use of the term "information" in physics, I really don't see how, today, we can approach "information" based on the present mathematics and physics that were built based on the spatial consideration, while "information" is of non-spatial nature.

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Pentcho Valev replied on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 16:43 GMT
Lev Goldfarb wrote: "I really don't see how, today, we can approach "information" based on the present mathematics and physics that were built based on the spatial consideration, while "information" is of non-spatial nature."

Correct, but who cares? Physics is dead anyway:

Mike Alder: "It is easy to see the consequences of the takeover by the bureaucrats. Bureaucrats favour uniformity, it simplifies their lives. They want rules to follow. They prefer the dead to the living. They have taken over religions, the universities and now they are taking over Science. And they are killing it in the process. The forms and rituals remain, but the spirit is dead. The cold frozen corpse is so much more appealing to the bureaucratic mind-set than the living spirit of the quest for insight. Bureaucracies put a premium on the old being in charge, which puts a stop to innovation. Something perhaps will remain, but it will no longer attract the best minds. This, essentially, is the Smolin position. He gives details and examples of the death of Physics, although he, being American, is optimistic that it can be re,versed. I am not. (...) Developing ideas and applying them is done by a certain kind of temperament in a certain kind of setting, one where there is a good deal of personal freedom and a willingness to take risks. No doubt we still have the people. But the setting is gone and will not come back. Science is a product of the renaissance and an entrepreneurial spirit. It will not survive the triumph of bureacracy. Despite having the infrastructure, China never developed Science. And soon the West won't have it either."

Pentcho Valev

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Lev Goldfarb replied on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 17:19 GMT
Pentcho,

Although we do have to face the present enormous gap between the 'old' scientific patterns and the present unprecedented needs of our "information" society--and this is our greatest tragedy--we still have to be constructive and not just critical and dismissive (we are talking about the greatest achievements of the human mind). Otherwise, our criticisms might be safely dismissed, especially given the present very busy life styles.

Personally, I would not have come to these radical conclusions without some proposal in hand that clarifies the situation.

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Pentcho Valev replied on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 17:44 GMT
Lev Goldfarb wrote: "...we still have to be constructive and not just critical and dismissive. Otherwise, our criticisms might be safely dismissed, especially given the present very busy life styles. Personally, I would not have come to these radical conclusions without some proposal in hand that clarifies the situation."

OK let us try to clarify the situation. I believe that Einstein's 1905 light postulate is false and the speed of light does depend on the speed of the light source, as predicted by Newton's emission theory of light (c'=c+v). FOR THE SAKE OF ARGUMENT, let us assume that I am right. How do we proceed? Should the false postulate be immediately replaced by its true antithesis, even if obviously no new theory will replace Einstein's relativity (rather, we will have to return to 18th century physics)? Or, just because we have no new theory in hand we should preserve the old one, with the false postulate being its linchpin?

Pentcho Valev

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 18:37 GMT
Since my comment above was hidden, I'll continue here..

I agree with your comments citing Mike Adler, about the bureaucrats taking over, Pentcho. But who is to tell them the obvious question "Do you want to have your way, or would you rather get what you want?" Unfortunately; bureaucrats want to have their way, and to blame someone else if it doesn't result in their getting what they want. But trying to extend the 'prediction and control' paradigm to Research has the power to shut the whole thing down - by halting progress entirely.

The example above, of Spain's Minister of the Economy taking over control of the Research community after closing the Science ministry, is only the tip of the iceberg. Zeilinger was emphatic about giving researchers the freedom to explore, as an essential for progress, when I heard him lecture in Paris at FFP11. But Doug Osheroff, at FFP10 in Perth Australia, spelled out in great detail, how one must deliberately look beyond the familiar territory in order to make important discoveries.

So to top researchers at the frontiers, the need for the freedom to playfully explore is obvious. But to a bureaucrat; anything that resembles play should be stamped out, because it must be a waste of time. In other words; they wish we were machines - who can follow instructions on what to discover next. And even if we were, research does not work that way. My crusade at this point is to help make it OK to be human again, and to elevate in our perceptions the value and intelligence of play.

All the Best,

Jonathan

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Pentcho Valev replied on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 19:06 GMT
Jonathan, let me first reply to Tom:

I wrote: " ... just because we have no new theory in hand we should preserve the old one, with the false postulate being its linchpin?"

Tom Ray replied: "Yes, we should. Consider how long Euclidean geometry lasted with its "false" fifth postulate. Einstein's general theory wouldn't be possible unless the postulate were replaced with one from non-Euclidean geometry. Postulates (axioms) aren't false in a self-consistent system. The conclusions one can reach from them are simply limited to that domain -- just as Newtonian physics is limited, and which Einstein's relativity extends."

Tom,

I disagree with you of course but, on the other hand, I appreciate your courage to expose the crux of the problem. Do you claim that the statement:

"The speed of light, as measured by the observer, is independent of the speed of the emitter"

cannot be characterized as "true" or "false" if (the self-consistency of) special relativity is not taken into account?

Pentcho Valev

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Thomas Howard Ray replied on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 21:09 GMT
"Do you claim that the statement:

'The speed of light, as measured by the observer, is independent of the speed of the emitter'

cannot be characterized as 'true' or 'false' if (the self-consistency of) special relativity is not taken into account?"

Pentcho, independent of what you (or I or anyone) may believe, *no* rational statement is true or false without the context of logical self consistency.

Science is not a belief system -- we can only objectively measure correspondence between abstract theory and physical result. That Einstein extended Newtonian physics into a domain where it does not apply does not mean that Newtonian physics isn't true, no more than non-Euclidean geometry is untrue in the domain to which it applies. As scandalized as your common sense may be over Einstein's result, special and general relativity meets the test of rational science.

Tom

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Pentcho Valev replied on Jul. 9, 2013 @ 22:05 GMT
I asked: "Do you claim that the statement:

'The speed of light, as measured by the observer, is independent of the speed of the emitter'

cannot be characterized as 'true' or 'false' if (the self-consistency of) special relativity is not taken into account?"

Tom replied: "Pentcho, independent of what you (or I or anyone) may believe, *no* rational statement is true or false without the context of logical self consistency."

Tom, an example: Initially, both the emitter and the observer are stationary and the observer receives light with frequency f, speed c and wavelength L. Then the emitter starts moving towards the observer with speed v and the frequency the observer measures shifts from f=c/L to f'=(c+v)/L. This allows us to claim that the statement:

'The frequency, as measured by the observer, is independent of the speed of the emitter'

is FALSE, and we don't need any "context of logical self consistency". Similarly, we can characterize the statement:

'The speed of light, as measured by the observer, is independent of the speed of the emitter'

as true or false, and again we don't need any "context of logical self consistency".

Pentcho Valev

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Peter Jackson wrote on Jul. 11, 2013 @ 11:02 GMT
Tom, Pencho,

May I show how you both may be part right? There's more than one case. This is using the Doppler 'wavelength change' lambda formula as required in both optics and astronomy (redshift) to avoid nonsense.

Before considering space we consider a dielectric background medium with refractive index n. We'll consider the medium a gas at n~1, or plasma at n=1 so 'propagation'...

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Lawrence B Crowell wrote on Jul. 31, 2013 @ 15:23 GMT
The FQXi essay hockey stick! I graphed some of the first scores because I noticed that the scores seemed to hockey stick upwards near the top 10 to 20 essays. The graph is attached.

LC

attachments: fqxiscoredist.png

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Peter Jackson replied on Jul. 31, 2013 @ 20:44 GMT
Lawrence,

It looks like a normal inverse Bayesian probability amplitude distribution job (iPAD). Interesting, as I believe that's normally considered in the same way as a Gaussian distribution, as a sign of 'normality'. Were you hinting it may be otherwise? It's also consistent with the Godel n-value 'fuzzy logic' distribution in my essay, the LT gamma curve, and a standard 'power curve distribution, which I suggest can all be heuristically linked. Fascinating stuff. I predict the previous years would have a very similar profile. Have you looked?

Peter

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John Brodix Merryman wrote on Aug. 2, 2013 @ 18:26 GMT
The site appears to have a break down? Lost all posts and apparently some ratings for the last few days?

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Aug. 2, 2013 @ 21:00 GMT
In fact, we're currently moving the site over to a new server, and there may be a temporary hole in spacetime while we do that. I believe the data is just passing behind the black hole but not fallen into it.

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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster replied on Aug. 2, 2013 @ 21:02 GMT
not to mix metaphors or anything.

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Christian Corda replied on Aug. 2, 2013 @ 21:48 GMT
In any case, I have shown in my Essay that information comes out from black holes. Thus, the problem will be surely solved.

Cheers,

Ch.

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