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CATEGORY: It From Bit or Bit From It? Essay Contest (2013) [back]
TOPIC: Is the Planck constant itself the natural digit? by Helmut Hansen [refresh]
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Author Helmut Hansen wrote on May. 30, 2013 @ 17:21 GMT
Essay Abstract

In information theory the binary digit (bit) is the most common unit of information. But there are other units of information, f.e. the natural digit (nit). It is defined as log2 e (≈ 1.443) bits, where e is the base of the natural logarithm. In this paper it shall be shown, how »Plancks constant« h can be identified as the natural digit. The key to it is the relatively unknown “Thermodynamics of the Isolated Particle” developed by the physicist Louis DeBroglie in 1960.

Author Bio

Helmut Hansen is author. He is convinced that metaphysics can be conducted as an exact science like nuclear physics. Out of this conviction have now emerged several books and articles.

Download Essay PDF File

Lawrence B Crowell wrote on Jun. 1, 2013 @ 03:24 GMT
Your essay is completely reasonable. Your argument involves the Euclidean time phase or measure in a path integral. The quantum phase is e^{-iEt/ħ} and with the Wick rotation it/ħ --- > β = 1/kT the Euclideanized time t = ħ/kT. The effective temperature is then a measure of the amount of quantum noise or disorder exists from quantum fluctuations.

Cheers LC

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Paul Reed wrote on Jun. 1, 2013 @ 07:06 GMT

But is the Plank constant (leaving aside whether the calculation is correct or not) related to the physically existent reality of light, and therefore not necessarily the existential sequence which light represents?


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Author Helmut Hansen wrote on Jun. 1, 2013 @ 07:51 GMT

Can you precise your question? I am not quite sure, what you're asking.. As far as Plancks constant is concerned you cannot separate IT (i.e. the physical content whatever it may be) and BIT (i.e. the measure of form) from each other: they are inseparably mixed together. Just because h is greater than one bit it is impossible to describe reality as a sequence of bits.

In FQXi's 2011 essay contest I asked: Can the Universe Be Completely Digitized? I denied this possibility - and I still denies it. If the Universe were physically built up by bits (h = bit) nothing could happen in our Universe, because the two possible states would have the same probability: 50:50. In other words, a Universe built up by BITS (as a sort of logical atoms) would be a perfect crystal.

Paul Reed replied on Jun. 2, 2013 @ 06:31 GMT

There is an existential sequence. There is also existent representations of that, because as it progresses, these are created as a result of interaction with certain physical phenomena which are not inherently involved in the sequence. The most obvious example being light.

So, my understanding of Planck is that it relates to what might be termed the 'light reality' and not 'existential reality'. In other words, I read it as being the 'bottom line' in respect of light, which is not necessarily the same as the 'bottom line' in whatever is occurring. An analogy would be that light speed is asserted to be the maximum in physical existence. Whereas, in fact, it is the maximum for light, which is what enables us to see. There may be faster entities in existence, but light, in terms of a phenomena which represents something else, will not be able to identify it. Indeed, more generally, since light is just another physical entity with physical properties, any of those will have an effect on its ability to accurately and comprehensively represent what actually occurred.

In respect of your supplementary comment, the universe, or more precisely, physical existence as potentially knowable to us, must be discrete, otherwise existence would not occur.


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Author Helmut Hansen wrote on Jun. 1, 2013 @ 07:56 GMT

As I agree with your basic position I would like to recommend you of reading my FQXI-essay of 2011: Can the Universe be completely digitized?

Joe Fisher replied on Jun. 1, 2013 @ 12:01 GMT

The real Universe is unique. Humanly contrived abstract digits are not unique; therefore, the real Universe could never be digitized, polarized or memorized.

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Akinbo Ojo replied on Jun. 1, 2013 @ 13:22 GMT
Hi Helmut,

Your question whether the universe can be completely digitized is just the modern way of asking the same age-old question whether the unit of space is of zero dimension OR of a non-zero but very small dimension.

Other ways you can think of the question are:

- can a 'line' have length and have zero breadth?

- can a surface have length and breadth and exist in reality despite being of zero thickness?

- if you divide a body continuously into infinite number of surfaces then taking stock you want to reconstitute the body, how do you get a body with thickness (i.e. depth) from the infinite number of surfaces.

What can be achieved abstractly (mathematical) may not obtain in reality (physics).



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Author Helmut Hansen replied on Jun. 3, 2013 @ 07:11 GMT
Hi Akinbo,

you are right, encoding physical data in terms of bits is only a language like Euclidean geometry. I am convinced, too, that this language is not suitable, to describe the ultimate foundation of our universe in an appropriate manner, because the fundamental logic underlying our visible Universe is - as far as I can see - not a bivalent one, it is of multivalent nature.

From Quantum computing we know that a quantum bit can exist in superposition of two bit values, true and false. The enormous success of Quantum Mechanics suggests that our Universe computes itself just in this way.

Jochen Szangolies wrote on Jun. 1, 2013 @ 09:29 GMT
An interesting proposal. As Rovelli has pointed out in his relational quantum mechanics, the postulate that there is only a finite amount of information to be gained from a given physical system (which is of course very similar to Zeilinger's principle) introduces Planck's constant: it entails that a physical system can only be localized up to a finite accuracy in phase space, i.e. for a single particle moving in one dimension, you can never localize it perfectly, but only up to an ellipse in phase space, whose area is of dimension [momentum x position] = [energy x time]; its minimum size is then given by Planck's constant. In a sense, quantum physics is then just a deformation of classical physics (Liouville mechanics) with deformation parameter h (see the phase space formulation of quantum mechanics).

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Paul Reed replied on Jun. 2, 2013 @ 06:39 GMT

You do not need postulates, etc. By definition, any given physical circumstance is definitive. Otherwise, what is it? Whether we can identify all that is highly debatable, but the possibility is there. In other words, it is a practical not metaphysical issue. The real question at present is whether Planck is concerned with (for want of better phrases)the reality as occurred, or the reality as represented by light.


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Author Helmut Hansen replied on Jun. 11, 2013 @ 13:43 GMT
Dear Jochen,

I followed your link concerning relational quantum mechanics. I appreciate the author's attempt to clarify the foundations of quantum mechanics, but I do not agree, especially out of my specific understanding of Special Relativity, which Rovelli considers obviously as uncontroversial.

I am convinced that Special Relativity (SR) is incomplete. This incompleteness concerns the speed of light. My view is: As the quantum mechanical concept of Wave-Particle duality has shown us that light is of dual nature, I came to the conviction that the speed of light c has to be of dual nature, too. In other words: The speed of light c is given twice, in a wave-like version and in a particle-like version. In SR only the wave-like version of c has been taken into account.

As the result of this incompleteness the relativistic Lorentz symmetry is too restrictive. I've found a geometrical space-time-structure that fits to this "Dual Parametrization of c". According to this structure there are two space-time-branches, which I am calling the "Gödel-Zone" and the "Gödel-Trench". The Gödel-Zone (from v = 0 to v = c) is limited by the speed of light v = c, whereas the Gödel-Trench (from v = c to v = oo) is limited by the speed v = oo. In SR the second space-time-segment (here described as the Gödel-Trench) is completely missing.

If this second segment is really existing then we have to strive for a deeper understanding of SR - and not of quantum mechanics. That is at least my position. But I admit all these thoughts are more a vision than a coherent theory.

Paul Reed replied on Jun. 12, 2013 @ 04:51 GMT

c is not the speed of light, as in what is utilised in observation, when deployed by Einstein. It is just a constant, ie the theoretical speed of light in vacuo, used to calibrate distance and duration, nobody sees with it.


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Author Helmut Hansen wrote on Jun. 12, 2013 @ 05:49 GMT

In a way you are touching a sort of the chicken or the egg dilemma: Which came first, space and time or the speed of light? Einstein used - as you mentioned - the speed of light to alter resp. re-calibrate our understanding of space and time, but you can go the other way as well: you can use a space-time-conception to alter our understanding of the constant of c. I have followed this path...

George Ellis has written an interesting paper. He asked: Is c the speed of light? arXiv:gr-qc/0305099v2 12 Jun 2003. Possibly it is interesting for your to read.


Paul Reed replied on Jun. 20, 2013 @ 04:40 GMT

Sorry, did not spot this response.

Einstein did not use the speed of observational light. He just used a number, the theoretical speed of light, to calibrate duration and distance. He could have used any constant number. For fairly obvious reasons he chose that, because he thought, and most interpreters since think, that this accounted for observation. But it did not, because there is no light in Einstein whereby people can be observers. In other words, the ‘frame of reference’ cannot be an observer perspective, because there are no observers, there is nothing for them to observe with, it is just the entity against which comparison is being made for calibration purposes (with respect to), the second postulate is irrelevant because it was not deployed as defined, etc, etc.

I do not need to read Ellis or anybody else. Light is a physical phenomenon that moves, it always starts at the same speed, and is subject to physical influences whilst travelling. It is what enables sight. Whilst questions about how light works are important, I only need to know the latter.


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Wesley Wayne Hansen wrote on Jun. 14, 2013 @ 14:33 GMT
Mr. Hansen,

I know you're in Germany but based on the spelling of your name I assume a Danish ancestry. I can't help but wonder if we don't happen to have a few common ancestors there in the Danish Motherland; it would seem a distinct possibility. I've often wanted to get over to Denmark and take a gander around . . . My family, on both my grandfather's side (Hansen) and grandmother's...

view entire post

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Author Helmut Hansen replied on Jun. 17, 2013 @ 15:40 GMT

Thank you very much for your comment and your personal notes. May be there is some connection from previous lifes. Though I didn't know anything about a Danish ancestry as far as my present family is concerned, there seems, however, to be a strong bond to the "Danish Motherland". My spiritual teacher OLY NYDAHL f.e. was born in Copenhagen.

If you are ever looking for authentic information of Tibetan Buddhism, he is a very fine adress:

He is - like you - convinced beyond any doubt, that Nature (resp. its mind-like foundation) is conscious and aware. He travels around the world - twice a year - to teach that.

I wish you all the best for your paper.


Wesley Wayne Hansen replied on Jun. 21, 2013 @ 16:15 GMT

I must be mistaken; I have always assumed that the spelling, Hansen, indicated Danish ancestry while, Hanson, indicated German. Regardless, I would imagine both names are somehow closely related.

I followed the link to Ole Nydahl's website which is very interesting indeed. Here in Houston, Texas, we have the Dawn Mountain Temple, a temple in the Tibetan tradition. I've been...

view entire post

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Hoang cao Hai wrote on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 03:07 GMT
Dear Helmut

"Two sides of the same coin" can also be understood as the opposite, like: two sexes of a species.

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Author Helmut Hansen wrote on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 08:46 GMT
@Hoang cao Hai:

The idea behind my paper is the Aristolean assumption that every real or physical object resp. action is a sort of "synholon" being composed of FORM and SUBSTANCE, which means, in REALITY none of these two categories can exist independently.

In elementary particle physics we are still looking for a fundamental particle that is really indivisible. If we define...

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Akinbo Ojo replied on Jun. 24, 2013 @ 14:18 GMT
Hi Helmut and Hoang,

Why do you still say... "we are still looking for a fundamental particle that is really indivisible... If atomism is rigorously based on terms of spatial divisibility we will never know, if a discovered particle is really indivisible or not".

Such a particle obviously cannot be detected by any instruments since it will be smaller than any technique or device to measure it. It can only be detected by logic and reductio ad absurdum arguments, some of which I proposed in my essay. What do have against Leibniz's monads being that particle?

Visited here before. Just visiting again.



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Author Helmut Hansen replied on Jul. 1, 2013 @ 12:21 GMT
Hi Akinbo,

I've read your paper, in which monads are introduced as foundational elements of reality. You are defining monads explicitly in a binary way. But by doing this, monads can only exist in two possible states of equal propability: 50 : 50. A Universe that would be built up in this way is a dead Universe, something like a big crystal, because nothing can change. If the two possible states of the monads does possess exactly the same probability of existence resp. emergence then nothing can change their symmetry.

In my FQXi-Paper 2012 (Can the Universe be completely digitized?) I have highlighted this argument. It is admittedly not a strong argument, but it is an argument.



P.S. I've rated your paper.

Akinbo Ojo replied on Jul. 1, 2013 @ 13:46 GMT
Thanks Helmut for reading and rating my paper. I will be doing likewise.

The probability is not 50:50 and the universe will be full of activity, with monads constantly emerging, some annihaling to nothing and some staying permanently on. Indeed, you can make a monads appear and disappear by taking a walk! I tried to demonstrate this with 'digital motion'.

I will check your 2012 paper and comment later.



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Hoang cao Hai wrote on Jun. 27, 2013 @ 04:20 GMT
Send to all of you


To change the atmosphere "abstract" of the competition and to demonstrate for the real preeminent possibility of the Absolute theory as well as to clarify the issues I mentioned in the essay and to avoid duplicate questions after receiving the opinion of you , I will add a reply to you :

1 . THE...

view entire post

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Patrick Tonin wrote on Jul. 2, 2013 @ 12:37 GMT
Hi Helmut,

You said: "In FQXi's 2011 essay contest I asked: Can the Universe Be Completely Digitized? I denied this possibility - and I still denies it. If the Universe were physically built up by bits (h = bit) nothing could happen in our Universe, because the two possible states would have the same probability: 50:50. In other words, a Universe built up by BITS (as a sort of logical atoms) would be a perfect crystal."

I agree with you that both states would have the same probability but if you consider that the universe is a growing sphere of information, this is not geometrically possible. Take a look at my essay and you will see what I mean.

I also agree with you that metaphysics can be conducted as an exact science like nuclear physics. You might want to read the end of my 3D Universe Theory, I propose a possible "scientific" explanation of the soul.



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James Lee Hoover wrote on Jul. 3, 2013 @ 18:38 GMT

If given the time and the wits to evaluate over 120 more entries, I have a month to try. My seemingly whimsical title, “It’s good to be the king,” is serious about our subject.


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Anton Biermans wrote on Jul. 8, 2013 @ 00:36 GMT
Hi Helmut,

Yes. In blackbody radiation there are more energy levels per unit energy interval at higher temperatures, so we need increasingly more decimals to distinguish successive energy levels at higher energies, temperatures. If there can be no maximum to the energy or temperature, then size of the energy gap between two subsequence levels can become arbitrarily small. Though energy is quantified, there is no minimum limit to the size of the quantum, so the Planck length and Planck time etc. have no special significance. The Planck constant h is like the number 1 in mathematics, encompassing all values between 0.5 and 1.5. If we can measure the Planck constant to the next decimal at a higher energy, a higher temperature, then we can write that number as 1.0, which encompasses all numbers between 0.95 and 1.05. So if we set h = 1 in our equations, then every time we improve the accuracy of the Planck constant, we increase the magnifying power of our microscope with a factor 10.

Cheers, Anton

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Armin Nikkhah Shirazi wrote on Jul. 14, 2013 @ 15:03 GMT
Dear Helmut,

Good to see your essay here. I have some questions:

1) I am familiar with Zeilinger's Urprinzip but I have always wondered why it has not gained more popularity as the It from Bit view became more prevalent. Do you know why?

2) I am getting an incorrect result when I rewrite your derivation:

whereas according to equation (10), the natural log should be in the denominator. My suspicion is that the problem lies between equations (3) and (4) because there you seem to imply by virtue of the numerical and dimensional value

Is that what you really meant?

Also, assuming that it all works out I must admit that I did not quite follow the significance that you attribute to the mathematical derivation because the natural log of 2 factor is one of the two factors by which H and S differ from each other. If you could show that the inclusion of the natural log in the definition of H is not a matter of convention, then it would seem to me that your case would be stronger.

Finally, when I was still in the thinking stages about the contest, I thought about titling my entry "It and bit- two sides of the same coin?" and I saw that you had thought of a similar phrase at the end of your essay.

All the best,


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Author Helmut Hansen replied on Jul. 18, 2013 @ 10:23 GMT
Dear Armin,

thank you very much for your comment and your questions.

To your questions:

(1) Zeilinger's Urprinzip does not really explain anything. It describes the internal limitation of quantum mechanics only in a different language. To put it pointedly: It is a sort of shadow philosophy of the Kopenhagen Interpretation. That's possibly the reason, why it gained no more attention.

(2) You got indeed a correct result: If you calculate the expression of h x ln2 (i.e. h x 0.693...), you get the value of A* = 4, 592.. x ... erg/sec.

You are right, to unveil equation (5) as a fundamental resp. meaningful one, we have to show that the natural log in the definition of H is not a matter of convention. A German theorist states that equation (5) in connection with Euler's number e is able to explain the mass spectrum of the quarks.

I am not sure, whether this conviction turns out to be right or not, but in equation (5) there is some truth in it - no doubt. As you know Einstein was deeply convinced, too, that pure numbers like e are the genuine universal constants, because they appear in some sense with necessity in the logical evolution of mathematics as unique individual formations, which have nothing to do with conventional units. Euler's number e f.e. generates the sequence e = 1 + 1 + 1/2! + 1/3! ...

However, I will read your paper and comment it later.

Kind Regards


Mikalai Birukou wrote on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 14:26 GMT

Reading comments section, I want to suggest you the following view on Special Relativity.

Minkowski space has a critical speed parameter, called c. Massless things happen to fly at this critical speed. In fact we are lucky that light, something used be humanity for ages, happened to travel at this critical for our space speed. This allowed us to discovere pretty quickly that spacetime is more of a pseudo-Riemannian manifold, which must have this special critical speed, which is called speed of light do to historic inertia.



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Antony Ryan wrote on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 14:32 GMT
Dear Helmut,

It and Nit are like two sides of the same coin, sounds very reasonable to me. I like your approach and found your essay very interesting. Planck units are certainly fundamental in nature I agree with that.

Nice work.

Please take a look at my essay if you get chance.

Best wishes,


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Dipak Kumar Bhunia wrote on Jul. 22, 2013 @ 04:52 GMT
Dear Helmut,

Thanking you to think the h as NIT. Then why c and other physical constant magnitudes would not have that similar characteristic?

I invite you in my essay as well to read there some relevant ideas, which are almost closer of yours.



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Sreenath B N wrote on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 08:04 GMT
Dear Helmut,

I have down loaded your essay and soon post my comments on it. Meanwhile, please, go through my essay and post your comments.

Regards and good luck in the contest,

Sreenath BN.

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Peter Jackson wrote on Jul. 25, 2013 @ 17:47 GMT

Great little essay and much bigger big ('little!') thesis, with which I agree and think is excellently derived.

You point out; "...we are still looking for a fundamental particle that is really indivisible", and "the fundamental logic underlying our visible Universe is ...- not a bivalent one, it is of multivalent nature." Which I also base my own essay on (though I do charge off and test the power of 'multi valued spaces' down to the planck limit.

And I very much liked and agreed:

" important insight about the most deep nature of the Universe... If the natural digit (nit) is the fundamental modus operandi how the Universe processes its internal information then the quantum of action (i.e. Plancks constant) is nothing else than the physical resp. visible side of this process"

I can't understand why so few have scored it, or why it's so low, but a top score coming from me to help. Very well earned. I do hope you can similarly read, score and comment on mine in the extra time we now have.

Very best wishes.


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Member Carlo Rovelli wrote on Jul. 28, 2013 @ 16:31 GMT
Dear Helmut,

I have read with great interest your article, and I must say that (contrary to most of the other articles) I agree with it and find it very interesting.

However, allow me say that I have a complain. You write at the beginning that Wheeler's idea of informational theoretical foundation of physics has "gained renewed interest" with Zeilinger paper. I have great respect for Zeilinger and his ideas, and maybe he himself was not aware of my work in the previous years, but I think that that the attention to these ideas started with my 1996 work:

C Rovelli: ``Relational Quantum Mechanics", International Journal of Theoretical Physics, 35, 1637 (1996). Arxiv: quant-ph/9609002

This is the paper that is cited by several of the first articles that begun to focus on information foundations in physics.

I am happy to recognize Zeilinger ideas and contributions, but please do not rewrite history and do not forger this paper, which is the one that started the attention on information theory at the basis of quant theory, after Wheeler.

Best, Carlo

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Vladimir Rogozhin wrote on Aug. 1, 2013 @ 08:48 GMT
Dear Helmut,

Contests FQXi - is primarily a new radical idea. "The trouble with physics" push ... You have a new radical idea. In your essay deep original ontological analysis in the basic strategy of Descartes's method of doubt, given new ideas, new concepts and conclusions.

I totally agree with you:

«... That metaphysics can be conducted as an exact science like nuclear...

view entire post

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George Kirakosyan wrote on Aug. 2, 2013 @ 09:19 GMT
Hi dear Helmut,

I have read your essay (thanks to advice of my friend) and I have find there things which is really close to my spirit. Main thing is you well know about drama of de Broglie, as well as of Einstein's efforts to bring physics back on the natural way of development. I am also talking on this questions in my work that may interesting for you Es text. I am going to rate your work properly!

I am very hope get your comments in my forum.

Best wishes,


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George Kirakosyan wrote on Aug. 2, 2013 @ 18:39 GMT
Dear Helmut,

I have reread (and re-rated!) your essay. As we have observed something happen with program and last posts/rating has ben deleted. So, I do it again succesful.



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Hugh Matlock wrote on Aug. 4, 2013 @ 04:29 GMT
Hi Helmut,

Your essay is an elegant exposition of a very intriguing idea. You wrote:

> If the natural digit (nit) is the fundamental modus operandi how the Universe processes its internal information then the quantum of action (i.e. Plancks constant) is nothing else than the physical resp. visible side of this process.

My essay Software Cosmos puts forward a computational model for the universe, which would need just this sort of thing.

You may also enjoy Branko Zivlak's essay. He shows an unusual information-based equation links the electron, proton, and neutron masses. Perhaps you can find an interpretation for it.


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Paul Borrill wrote on Aug. 4, 2013 @ 23:02 GMT
Helmut - your paper was short and to the point. I liked that. I gave it a high rating not because of its completeness, but because I learned something. Thank you for raising my attention to DeBroglie’s “isolated particle”, and the provocative title arising from that.

Carlo Rovelli is also quite correct: his paper on relational quantum mechanics is a landmark paper in the recent development of physics and should not be written out of the history. Anton Zeilinger is truly a great scientist, but so is Carlo Rovelli; I recommend you read his book on Quantum Gravity, and his wonderful work on relational quantum mechanics.

Kind regards, Paul

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Don Limuti wrote on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 01:28 GMT
Hi Helmut,

I was looking thru the essays and came across yours. I realized that I had not voted for it. I rectified that and voted for what I considered one of the most under rated essays of the contest. I do not know about your metaphysics, but your numerology is excellent.

I started a blog on physics several years back when I realized that no one ever overcame Zeno's argument against motion. Please feel free to look at the whole thing, it starts with the conflict between Zeno and deBroglie. I have one section of the web site that I think you will particularly like.

Please comment if any of this strikes you as interesting.

Thanks, and recommend a book you think would interest me.

Don Limuti

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