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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Lev Goldfarb: on 8/9/13 at 18:54pm UTC, wrote Hi Alexei, Since now we ended up next to each other, and I read about your...

Alexei Grinbaum: on 8/9/13 at 5:06am UTC, wrote Thank you.

M. Vasilyeva: on 8/9/13 at 3:51am UTC, wrote Alexei I am very disappointed not to see your name among the finalists...

M. Vasilyeva: on 8/9/13 at 3:44am UTC, wrote Looks like I jinxed you. Sorry about that. I really thought yours was one...

Alexei Grinbaum: on 8/8/13 at 5:54am UTC, wrote Hi Howard, Thanks for your comments and the link to Appleby's paper. I...

Howard Barnum: on 8/7/13 at 23:55pm UTC, wrote Hi Alexei--- Nice essay, quite clearly written. It still doesn't make me...

Cristinel Stoica: on 8/7/13 at 18:54pm UTC, wrote Dear Alexei, Very beautifull, well written, well documented and well...

Paul Borrill: on 8/7/13 at 18:49pm UTC, wrote Dear Alexei, I have now finished reviewing all 180 essays for the contest...


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FQXi FORUM
August 22, 2019

CATEGORY: It From Bit or Bit From It? Essay Contest (2013) [back]
TOPIC: It from Bit and Bit from It by Alexei Grinbaum [refresh]
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Author Alexei Grinbaum wrote on Jun. 11, 2013 @ 16:07 GMT
Essay Abstract

It is tempting to think that, once we have understood scientific theories behind \textsc{it} and \textsc{bit}, it will be easy to fix an order of precedence between them. I argue that it will not. Contrary to appearances, a key to softening this problem of precedence is to be found in the meaning of \textsc{from}, understood as rigorous reconstruction, and that of \textsc{or}, which in the framework of epistemic loops is put on a par with \textsc{and}. But, as anyone would expect, I begin with \textsc{it} and \textsc{bit}, suggesting that we adopt an attitude of epistemological modesty and treat the observer as informational agent.

Author Bio

Alexei Grinbaum is a researcher at CEA-LARSIM located in Saclay near Paris. His main interest is in the philosophy of physics and the foundations of quantum mechanics.

Download Essay PDF File

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Joe Fisher wrote on Jun. 12, 2013 @ 17:10 GMT
Alexei,

I found this essay to be an engrossing read. Meticulous care has been taken in its construction. There is no overstatement, and the styling is impeccable.

May I please make one comment? You wrote: “Still one feature unites all observers: Whatever they do, they do it to a system.” I contend that one real Universe is unique, once. That means that everything real in the real Universe can only be unique, once. Although the feature that might unite all abstract observers could be abstractly systematic more than once, no real observers could ever be united because no system can ever be unique. As no system can attain uniqueness, all systems must remain unrealistic.

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Author Alexei Grinbaum replied on Jun. 14, 2013 @ 06:50 GMT
Dear Joe Fisher,

Thanks for your comment. One point I'm trying to make in the essay is that science does not warrant claims about what is real; at best it tells us what is not. Another convention at the foundation of physical theory is that experiments are repeatable, which implies (to use the language of analytic philosophy) that unique tokens are identified as belonging to one type, or concrete $C^*$-algebras as being one and the same abstract algebra, or many copies being "one system".

Best wishes,

Alexei Grinbaum

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Jun. 12, 2013 @ 19:24 GMT
Dear Alexei,

A most interesting essay! If I understand you correctly, you are considering the case of what will remain of a physics theory "if one clears away its human inventors and users," based on the assumption that our ideas of physical reality are primarily a function of the way our brains are wired. Thus the first thing you throw away are ontological bases for theories. You...

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Author Alexei Grinbaum replied on Jun. 14, 2013 @ 07:10 GMT
Dear Edwin Eugene,

Thank you for your comments. There is no claim in my essay about Platonism. Indeed I am not choosing between object realism, property realism, structural realism or Platonic idealism, i.e. the realism of mathematical entities (which is close to structural realism in some of its forms). I believe that science does not warrant claims about "reality", only about what is posited and what can be derived within a physical theory. There exists no proof of any predicate in the form "X is real", while one can show the opposite: "X cannot be held as fundamental".

As for the question about where one cuts the loop, there is no one answer to that. The point of the loop view is that there can be many cuts, each of which leads to a different sort of theory. No one loop cut is better than the other: the job they are doing is different in every case. I understand that you prefer to posit something you call "matter" and to derive information. This is perfectly fine; but a different loop cut is equally possible.

Is the loop cut the same as the cut between the objective and the subjective? I don't think so. In the Husserlian debate, of course, phenomenology is central, but my loop view is purely epistemological, i.e. it involves the ensemble of theories of (scientific) knowledge. All predicates are formulated in the third person and there are no first-person claims. Still, as you noticed, I support the attempts to analyze the connection between physical theory and observer-dependent point of view - in a scientific way. We lack mathematics for that, but I am hopeful that such mathematics will be found.

Best wishes,

Alexei Grinbaum

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Edwin Eugene Klingman replied on Jun. 14, 2013 @ 18:54 GMT
Dear Alexei,

Thank you for clarifying your position. It is more neutral than I assumed. I believe you have achieved a remarkable accomplishment, illuminating the essential arbitrariness of what is given and what is derived, when one is stuck only with logic. Fortunately I'm not stuck only with logic but possess awareness, experience, sensations, and knowledge. I can understand your goal, and find absolutely no fault with it. In fact I strongly approve it. But I have a different goal, which has been (for over half a century) to understand reality (to the extent possible). From my perspective, your development satisfies each of our separate goals.

I fully understand that different loop cuts are possible, but I must cut the loop in the place it makes sense, based on my life as I have lived it. Others, it is clear, will make different sense out of it. You rightly proclaim that it is not (currently) amenable to a scientifically justifiable choice. From my perspective we will not find mathematics capable of making the choice, and not just because of Godel, but because math is an abstraction, unless one is a Platonist, which, as you point out, is not claimed or supported by your essay.

From the perspective of the institution of science, which is inherently third-party, you show a scheme which does not fix an order of precedence. From my perspective, which is inherently first party, it is obvious what the precedence is. A win-win situation!

Thank you again for your delightful essay. It should place highly in this contest.

Best regards,

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Eckard Blumschein replied on Jun. 18, 2013 @ 06:19 GMT
Dear Alexei,

"I support the attempts to analyze the connection between physical theory and observer-dependent point of view - in a scientific way. We lack mathematics for that, but I am hopeful that such mathematics will be found."

I consider a seemingly lacking mathematics already found. In order to explain my different position, let me use the chicken-egg metaphor. You and most of the other contemporary physicists are treating it as a loop. Of course, one can cut the loop arbitrarily. After abstraction from reality, one cannot distinguish between a chicken and its ancestors.

Being an old engineer, I prefer to rather attribute repeating features of reality to a spiral. This implied that I had to look for related flaws in loop-based models. I tried my best to summarize some topic-related ones here. Any serious criticism might be helpful and is welcome.

Unfortunately, Pentcho Valev declared himself in "Faster than light" too exhausted as to take issue.

Best,

Eckard

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Paul Reed wrote on Jun. 13, 2013 @ 04:47 GMT
Alexei

“On what foundation, then, can we build physical theories?”

On the basis of what is manifest (either directly or via proper hypothesis) to us, how the physical process enabling this operates, and how that which is manifest must occur. That is by avoiding assertions which have no experienceable validity, ie are beliefs about the nature of existence.

Paul

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Author Alexei Grinbaum replied on Jun. 14, 2013 @ 07:18 GMT
Paul,

Thank you for your comment. I don't find anything to disagree with in what you have said. However I'd be careful not to trust what is directly manifest as fundamental building blocks of physical theory.

Best wishes,

Alexei Grinbaum

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Paul Reed replied on Jun. 15, 2013 @ 05:35 GMT
Alexei

Why? Leaving aside any 'adjustments' that are proved to be needed (eg an effect on light), we have nothing else. That is the point, physical existence is what is potentially knowable to us, which is the result of a physical process. Which is why your response to Joe "science does not warrant claims about what is real; at best it tells us what is not", is wrong. The reference for scientific validity is correspondence with what is potentially (we may not realise that potential)knowable, not any alternative possibility that can be conceived. It is therefore possible to know what is real. Real being what is real for us, not what might occur but there is no evidence (either direct or hypothetical) that we can have any knowledge (ie awareness) of).

Paul

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basudeba mishra wrote on Jun. 18, 2013 @ 06:44 GMT
Dear Sir,

You have beautifully analyzed the foundations of physical theories. Most of it are in agreement with our essay published on May,31.

However, regarding reconstruction, you must not forget that mathematics explains only “how much” one quantity accumulates or reduces in an interaction involving similar or partly similar quantities and not “what”, “why”,...

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Manuel S Morales wrote on Jun. 19, 2013 @ 19:34 GMT
Alexei,

Excellent analogy of the complexities involve with our current understandings of how effects (it) cause effects (bit). You hit it on the nail with your "loop views"! To me Figure 1, describes effectual causality and Figure 2, describes causality. Very insightful essay I must say.

I too have found the stepping back of the whole argument fruitful in my experimental findings which unify gravity with the strong, weak, and electromagnetic forces as one super-deterministic force. What I have learned from these findings are reflective of your loop analysis which I discuss in my essay. I hope you will have a chance to review it.

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Manuel S Morales replied on Jul. 2, 2013 @ 17:07 GMT
Alexei,

I found your comments relating to Figure 2 of your essay to be relative to the findings of a 12 year experiment I have recently concluded.

Please review my essay to confirm if my findings validates your suggestions as to how to move forward. I believe my findings may have provided the experimental validation of your premise, see:

http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/1809

Best wishes,

Manuel

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Hoang cao Hai wrote on Jun. 20, 2013 @ 19:46 GMT
Dear Alexei

There are many authors in this thread with the same conclusion with you, maybe it would be a good sign, I also used to think like you, until I find a better result.

http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/1802

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Member Matthew Saul Leifer wrote on Jun. 22, 2013 @ 16:26 GMT
Hi Alexei,

I was wondering what theory of truth is compatible with your views on the nature of science. It looks like the correspondence theory would be problematic for you. Are you a coherentist, or something else?

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Author Alexei Grinbaum replied on Jun. 22, 2013 @ 20:32 GMT
Hi Matt,

Good to hear from you - and thanks for an interesting question. I don't have a well-developed position with regard to a theory of truth. Certainly not correspondence, you're right. I guess I subscribe to elements of coherence theories and minimal theories; this is in the following sense. Minimal, because I don't take "X is true" to be informative about the state of the world, but only about the ensemble of propositions that render theoretically meaningful both X and the proof that X. This partly resembles redundancy theories of truth, because I refuse to extend the significance of "X is true" beyond a certain limit, which is set by this ensemble. Within the ensemble, coherence theories fully apply. Thus "X is true" cannot be a random statement and cannot be decided on a whim, but must agree with other theoretically meaningful propositions. So I'd provisionally say that my position is a combination of minimal+coherence theories, but it would be great to discuss this further.

Cheers,

Alexei

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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 02:03 GMT
Dear

Thank you for presenting your nice essay. I saw the abstract and will post my comments soon.

So you can produce material from your thinking. . . .

I am requesting you to go through my essay also. And I take this opportunity to say, to come to reality and base your arguments on experimental results.

I failed mainly because I worked against the main stream. The...

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George Kirakosyan wrote on Jun. 30, 2013 @ 08:20 GMT
Dear Alexey,

Your judgements is really excellent, but I think we can perceive the topic question some more lightly, as a good joke only! The elementary morphological analyze of the question is enough to be understand contentless of it. The main argues of most people is politically by essence - "Weller says something in his time!" This up on his responsibility whatever he say, but I want thinking by my own brain!

I hope my work will interesting for you - as philosopher!

I will thankfully to get your opinion.

Sincerely,

George

ESSAY

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James Lee Hoover wrote on Jul. 3, 2013 @ 18:29 GMT
Alexei,

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.

Jim

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Antony Ryan wrote on Jul. 14, 2013 @ 22:01 GMT
Dear Alexei,

Thanks for writing an enjoyable essay to read.

I think your Loop Cut diagrams to sum up an interesting and intuitive idea. This diagram, is a clear and concise way to sum up the essay contest's question, so top marks for being relevant. Also I found your arguments interesting and well explained.

Also, observers as informational agents was well thought out. I wonder if we might find common ground - please take a look at my essay if you get time.

Best wishes,

Antony

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KoGuan Leo wrote on Jul. 15, 2013 @ 11:17 GMT
Dear Alexei,

I think you are helping to bring about a consensus for a new paradigm. you bring about which I also espouse that nature is infinite that covers from nothing to infinity. No finite law can tame nature and restrict it to behave accordingly. Nature is infinite and it does in infinite ways or covers yes and no and all in between. An observation localize what he/she observed ...

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George Kirakosyan wrote on Jul. 23, 2013 @ 09:03 GMT
Dear Alexei,

I have read your essay and appreciate it as one serious attempt

to bring in consensus the modern physics and philosophy.

Unfortunately, nowadays physicists have recognized two things only;

the experiments and calculus, and main analytical tool - i.e. the logic, they inclined to see as some empty/anachronic occupation for people who are very far from actual questions of ,,high,, science. I have deeply opposite view on this issue that are narrated in my work.

I find a lot of common points in your work, that is why I am inclined to rate it on high score. I am very hope my work may deserve to your interest, despite it written in different style and the stated

task also on some different direction. Es

I hope get your valuable comment in my forum.

Sincerely,

George

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Member Carlo Rovelli wrote on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 04:33 GMT
Alexei,

nicely done. This is a good clarification and a good step in making precise the problem. I myself tend to have a more easily naturalistic position, but I appreciate your perspective, and it may be unavoidable. ciao, carlo

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Author Alexei Grinbaum replied on Jul. 24, 2013 @ 12:39 GMT
Grazie, Carlo. I wish the cuts could be avoided - but for this we probably need new mathematics to deal with observers. To take an example, in your essay you're talking about two different notions of states: microstates, which don't seem to be relative, and macrostates as well as quantum states, both of which are relative to the observer. This fits well with Rob Spekkens's epistemic model and the whole 'ontic vs epistemic' debate, but I feel that this fundamental duality means that we haven't got it right yet, either way. If there are microstates fundamentally, why should we be _always_ able to learn more, cf. Axiom 2?

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Than Tin wrote on Jul. 26, 2013 @ 03:57 GMT
Hello Alexei

Richard Feynman in his Nobel Acceptance Speech

(http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/19
65/feynman-lecture.html)

said: “It always seems odd to me that the fundamental laws of physics, when discovered, can appear in so many different forms that are not apparently identical at first, but with a little mathematical fiddling you can show the...

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Akinbo Ojo wrote on Jul. 26, 2013 @ 12:40 GMT
Dear Alexei,

An excellent philosophical submission. In my opinion philosophy takes precedence over physics theory, even though both are related. Recall that old name for physics was 'natural philosophy'.

My essay too has some philosophical content you may view. Then, a question for you: is existence/non-existence an information and binary choice?

Regards,

Akinbo

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Vladimir Rogozhin wrote on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 11:03 GMT
Hello Alexei,

I read with interest your analytical essay made in the strategy of Descartes's method of doubt. There is a little essay, which provides underlying philosophy. I respect your position and the way «epistemological modesty». I have yet another look at the problem of ontology and philosophical foundations of physics and mathematics, axioms, and the axiomatic method. But I respect your position and your way of research.

Constructive ways to the truth may be different. One of them said Alexander Zenkin in the article "Science counter-revolution in mathematics":

«The truth should be drawn with the help of the cognitive computer visualization technology and should be presented to" an unlimited circle "of spectators in the form of color-musical cognitive images of its immanent essence».

http://www.ccas.ru/alexzen/papers/ng-02/contr_rev.
htm

Do you agree with Alexander Zenkin?

You gave a very good quote the conclusion of Husserl. My favorite quote that helps me to "dig" to the most remote ontological meanings:

"Only to the extent, to which in case of idealization, the general content of spatio-temporal sphere is apodictically taken into account, which is invariant in all imaginable variations, ideal formation may arise, that will be clear in any future for all generations and in such form will be transferable by the tradition and reproducible in identical intersubjective sense".(Э.Гуссер&#
1083;ь «Начало геометри
80;»)

Please read my essay. I think we are the same in the spirit of our research.

Best regards,

Vladimir

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Charles Raldo Card wrote on Jul. 29, 2013 @ 04:20 GMT
Dear Alexei,

Thank you for your beautiful essay! Your phenomenological approach brings much clarity to the "It from Bit"/"Bit from It" conundrum. I wonder if you would consider your loop to be, in fact, an hermeneutic circle? Also, why not resist the temptation/compulsion to cut it; rather consider it as a whole and inquire after its characteristics?

Sincerely,

Charles Card

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Sreenath B N wrote on Jul. 30, 2013 @ 05:39 GMT
Dear Alexei,

I have down loaded your essay and soon post my comments on it. Meanwhile, please, go through my essay and post your comments. I am glad to know that ours areas of research are same.

Regards and good luck in the contest,

Sreenath BN.

http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/1827

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Sreenath B N replied on Aug. 4, 2013 @ 05:44 GMT
Dear Alexei,

It is good to know that you have given equal priority to both It and Bit and this priority is just relative from the ‘loop point of view’. From one side it appears as if It is more basic than Bit and from the other side it appears as if Bit is more fundamental than It. So you have concluded that “both It from Bit and Bit from It are acceptable—but not simultaneously”. You have come to this conclusion from ‘your epistemological considerations’. For this you have developed your own theory of epistemology based on your scheme of “reconstruction”. It is defined as “reconstruction consists of three stages: first give a set of physical principles, then formulate their mathematical representation, and finally rigorously derive the formalism of the theory”. According to you if this method is followed in science, especially quantum mechanics (QM), “it gives supplementary persuasive power: established as valid results, theorems and equations of the theory become unquestionable and free of suspicion”.

I appreciate your effort to solve the problem of measurement in QM from your own point of view for which you have given substantial logical proof but it needs to be still more elaborate. Your argument is original, elegant and convincing, and for this I am going to rate this essay with highest score.

Please go through my essay also (http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/1827) and express your comments on it in my thread.

Best wishes,

Sreenath

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Peter Jackson wrote on Aug. 3, 2013 @ 20:21 GMT
Alexie,

Yours is one of the few essays mining down to the deepest fundamentals to expose hidden assumptions and analyse observation. This seems to be in the 'lost triangle' between particle physics, optics and QM.

Reconstruction is a very original and interesting concept, but I spot a flaw. Does not Mathematics also; "rely on certain principles", such as commutativity and the "excluded middle", both of which may be much in question.

Does not the simple case of Pi itself demonstrate a limit to ultimate precision? Of course perhaps recursive sets may largely overcome such issues, and your point on processor preconceptions is good. I have to say this as I make it myself in defining each element including your 'cut' itself.

Thank you for a very interesting read, well set out and with clear well argued points, deserving of a high mark and better placing. I hope you may read mine before the deadline and give your thoughts and advice. Do ignore the dense Abstract and go by the blog comment; "groundbreaking", "wonderful" "remarkable!" etc. But do give me your own views.

Very well done for yours and thank you.

Peter

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Antony Ryan wrote on Aug. 4, 2013 @ 02:23 GMT
Dear Alexei,

As mentioned above I like your essay - please read mine if you get chance. As you seem to be one of a few or perhaps the only person who has really looked at the FROM part of the question I give you top marks, which I hope helps in your rankings.

Wishing you all the best for the contest,

Antony

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eAmazigh M. HANNOU wrote on Aug. 5, 2013 @ 22:59 GMT
Dear Alexei,

We are at the end of this essay contest.

In conclusion, at the question to know if Information is more fundamental than Matter, there is a good reason to answer that Matter is made of an amazing mixture of eInfo and eEnergy, at the same time.

Matter is thus eInfo made with eEnergy rather than answer it is made with eEnergy and eInfo ; because eInfo is eEnergy, and the one does not go without the other one.

eEnergy and eInfo are the two basic Principles of the eUniverse. Nothing can exist if it is not eEnergy, and any object is eInfo, and therefore eEnergy.

And consequently our eReality is eInfo made with eEnergy. And the final verdict is : eReality is virtual, and virtuality is our fundamental eReality.

Good luck to the winners,

And see you soon, with good news on this topic, and the Theory of Everything.

Amazigh H.

I rated your essay.

Please visit My essay.

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Charles Raldo Card wrote on Aug. 6, 2013 @ 03:43 GMT
Late-in-the-Day Thoughts about the Essays I’ve Read

I am sending to you the following thoughts because I found your essay particularly well stated, insightful, and helpful, even though in certain respects we may significantly diverge in our viewpoints. Thank you! Lumping and sorting is a dangerous adventure; let me apologize in advance if I have significantly misread or misrepresented...

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M. V. Vasilyeva wrote on Aug. 6, 2013 @ 08:09 GMT
Alexei

congratulations on writing a winning essay -- well, definitely one of the winners. I read it back in June and forgot about it with all this brouhaha going around -- until being reminded by one of the posts I saw just recently. A pleasure to read such a work.

You name suggests you may be originally from Russia? (you don't have to reply, if you don't want to; just curious)

well done! :)

-Marina

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M. V. Vasilyeva replied on Aug. 9, 2013 @ 03:44 GMT
Looks like I jinxed you. Sorry about that. I really thought yours was one of the best essays on the topic.

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Torsten Asselmeyer-Maluga wrote on Aug. 6, 2013 @ 08:09 GMT
Dear Alexei,

again a very interesting essay with avery clear view.

I agree completely that the measurement problem of QM is a central point in physics. The central concept is the observer. You gave a definition with which I can agree. I also try to tackle this problem. Maybe you have interest to read my essay ?

If you see the measurement as a sequence of results then you can obtain an indeterministic sequence: there are non-algorithmically constructed sequences.

Best wishes for the contest

Torsten

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Michel Planat wrote on Aug. 6, 2013 @ 21:18 GMT
Dear Alexei,

According to my friend Amazigh M. HANNOU you did an excellent anaysis of the it-bit problem. Myself I should spend more time in understanding your very professional essay, I promise to try after the context.

Meanwhile I am promoting your excellent ideas.

Hopefully you will be convinced by my approach as well.

All the best,

Michel

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Author Alexei Grinbaum replied on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 04:28 GMT
Monsieur,

Merci pour votre mot. Votre essai m'a semblé très intéressant et j'ai passé du temps à réfléchir à ce que vous dites.

Cordialement,

Alexei Grinbaum

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Paul Borrill wrote on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 18:49 GMT
Dear Alexei,

I have now finished reviewing all 180 essays for the contest and appreciate your contribution to this competition.

I have been thoroughly impressed at the breadth, depth and quality of the ideas represented in this contest. In true academic spirit, if you have not yet reviewed my essay, I invite you to do so and leave your comments.

You can find the latest version of my essay here:

http://fqxi.org/data/forum-attachments/Borrill-TimeOne-
V1.1a.pdf

(sorry if the fqxi web site splits this url up, I haven’t figured out a way to not make it do that).

May the best essays win!

Kind regards,

Paul Borrill

paul at borrill dot com

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Cristinel Stoica wrote on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 18:54 GMT
Dear Alexei,

Very beautifull, well written, well documented and well thought essay. You see the problem of it from bit vs bit from it in its full complexity. I particularly like the epistemic loops and the two ways to cut them.

Best wishes,

Cristi Stoica

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Member Howard N Barnum wrote on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 23:55 GMT
Hi Alexei---

Nice essay, quite clearly written. It still doesn't make me feel quite comfortable with the arbitrariness of where the cut is put. I do feel there is something about the quandaries of quantum theory, for instance this arbitrary cut, that is "epistemologically natural", but I don't think we yet have enough of a prinicipled understanding of it. I have some hope that "reconstruction", not necessarily in the usual operational framwork, but thinking also more deeply about how measurements are actually carried out using physical resources, and in space and time, might get us a better understanding, not just of the structure of the theory, but about what aspects of reality, and our epistemological immersion in it, are manifested in the structure of quantum theory. I quite agree that that does not mean we should expect an account in terms of standard notions of causality or the nature of external objects, some of which concepts may be "wired" in our brains and misleading with respect to our now far-flung physical investigations and activities. I tend to think that your general view that "it from bit AND bit from it" are both important in understanding the nature of quantum theory, is correct... but we may also have to transcend (as I mentioned in my essay, and as Marcus Appleby discusses at greater length in http://arxiv.org/abs/1305.7381 , which I recommend highly) the notions of "it" and "bit" (both of which Appleby would perhaps describe as Cartesian).

So, you give a compelling picture of "the current situation in quantum theory" and epistemology... but I still feel that the situation you describe is puzzling and augurs further physical and philosophical discoveries, which indeed may turn out to be one and the same discovery...

I enjoyed your thought-provoking essay... excellent job.

Howard

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Author Alexei Grinbaum replied on Aug. 8, 2013 @ 05:54 GMT
Hi Howard,

Thanks for your comments and the link to Appleby's paper. I agree that we shouldn't take the arbitrary cut as epistemologically satisfactory or final: theories may evolve, and this without embracing the ambition to explain everything within one theory. So the epistemic cut I'm talking about in the paper doesn't have to coincide with the Heisenberg-Dirac-von Neumann but between the observer and the observed in quantum mechanics.

Actually, I'm working myself on trying to understand the observer in informational terms, which has been missing from many reconstructions so far. I'm not sure I follow you when you add space and time as conditions under which measurements are "actually carried out". In my view, one of the key lessons of quantum theory is that it's free of space and time - and this is good! Non-locality means that we yet understand only very little about the connection between quantum theory and spatial structures; not to mention that time in quantum theory is only a parameter of algebra automorphisms.

Anyway, thanks for your comments - and thanks for your essay, too, which I read a month ago. I liked it, but I dislike very much the mad situation on this website and the rush for completely ungrounded ratings, so I'm quite unhappy with this contest and the way FQXI managed it. Had I known, I wouldn't have submitted anything in the first place. But for sure we'll see each other soon at some event and have a chance to talk.

Cheers,

Alexei

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M. V. Vasilyeva wrote on Aug. 9, 2013 @ 03:51 GMT
Alexei

I am very disappointed not to see your name among the finalists and, because of this, I am embarrassed to be there myself. I sincerely thought that your essay was one of the very best if not the best in this contest. I saw your post above and you are right, the atmosphere here was not conducive for advancement of refined and sensitive people like yourself. But hopefully it will change one day.

-Marina

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Author Alexei Grinbaum replied on Aug. 9, 2013 @ 05:06 GMT
Thank you.

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Lev Goldfarb replied on Aug. 9, 2013 @ 18:54 GMT
Hi Alexei,

Since now we ended up next to each other, and I read about your disappointment, I thought I should mention the following. This is my third FQXi contest (2nd, 3rd,5th) and it was getting worse and worse every time, until it *completely* deteriorated this time. And the reason is quite simple: complete neglect of the organization.

The two fellows that started the FQXi shop (especially the "Scientific Director") wanted to have the contests for the sole PR purpose, and they have completely neglected their organization, which eventually led to the results you see. Their main interests are getting money (mainly from the Templeton Foundation) for the grants and fancy conferences free for the members.

After the first two contests I participated in, I was so upset that I said to myself no more. But after an almost two-year break and seeing a topic I really liked, unfortunately, I decided to 'forget' about my previous experience.

Anyway, enjoy the rest of the summer.

Cheers,

--Lev

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