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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

DANIEL ALVES: on 8/8/13 at 4:34am UTC, wrote Hello everybody. I´d like to apologize for my absence in the contest. As I...

Antony Ryan: on 8/7/13 at 22:24pm UTC, wrote Hello Daniel, How did your exams go? Hope it went well! Best wishes, ...

Paul Borrill: on 8/6/13 at 17:49pm UTC, wrote Daniel, Fonteles - I have already read most of Julian Barbour’s...

Sreenath N: on 8/3/13 at 16:11pm UTC, wrote Dear Daniel, You have written a highly original article in which you have...

Sreenath N: on 8/3/13 at 5:30am UTC, wrote Dear Daniel, I have down loaded your essay and soon post my comments on...

john selye: on 8/2/13 at 16:25pm UTC, wrote Having read so many insightful essays, I am probably not the only one to...

Sreenath N: on 8/2/13 at 14:37pm UTC, wrote Dear Daniel, I have down loaded your essay and soon post my comments on...

Joe Fisher: on 7/27/13 at 15:21pm UTC, wrote Daniel, I thought your essay was illuminatingly interesting. I do hope...


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FQXi FORUM
October 23, 2019

CATEGORY: It From Bit or Bit From It? Essay Contest (2013) [back]
TOPIC: Is a Mathematical Definition of Observation Possible? by Daniel Wagner Fonteles Alves [refresh]
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Author DANIEL WAGNER FONTELES ALVES wrote on Jun. 26, 2013 @ 18:03 GMT
Essay Abstract

The measurement problem is one of the central puzzles of Quantum Mechanics. By exploring the foundations of General Relativity from the 3-space perspective and the concept of meaningful information we find what may be a hint towards a mathematical definition of observation.

Author Bio

Daniel Alves is a physics graduate student at the Brazilian Center for Research in Physics.

Download Essay PDF File

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Michael Helland wrote on Jun. 27, 2013 @ 03:31 GMT
Very well done, and the title of your essay sold replace "measurement problem" in our language.

My essay looks at a more nuuts and bolts attempt to define observation, attempting to recreate the physical process of a measurement occurring, bit by bit.

Your strategy is to sidestep the mind which is different from mine. Jus a point of interes.

Again, nice work.

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Author DANIEL WAGNER FONTELES ALVES replied on Jun. 27, 2013 @ 22:22 GMT
Thank you very much Michael. I´ve quickly read your essay before, it seems a very nice idea. I´ll leave some comments there soon.

Daniel

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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Jun. 27, 2013 @ 23:42 GMT
Dear Daniel,

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

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 main stream community people want magic from science...

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Hoang cao Hai wrote on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 04:51 GMT
Send to all of you

THE ADDITIONAL ARTICLES AND A SMALL TEST FOR MUTUAL BENEFIT

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...

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Akinbo Ojo wrote on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 09:55 GMT
Hello Daniel,

A worthwhile attempt to define observation mathematically. You can further improve on this but I will not join you at lunch just yet. Maybe later.

You say: ...the nature of space and time. Let´s go back to where everything begun

I beg your pardon, but the problems with the nature of space began further back. Not with Newton or Mach, but with Plato and Aristotle and is yet to be resolved. Instead, theories are being built on top of that problem.

You say: Starting by questioning the concept of space and time in classical mechanics, we were led to replace Newtonian absolute structures with relative configurations

I beg of you not to discard of Newton before reading my essay.

Finally, your essay also dwells on motion. You may find my quotes of Newton on motion complimentary to your ideas. I also make an initial (digital) attempt in resolving aspects of motion.

Good luck,

Akinbo

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Author DANIEL WAGNER FONTELES ALVES replied on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 15:25 GMT
Dear Akinbo

I´m aware of the long debate about motion. Yes, you can track it back to Aristotle, or even before. The "where everything begun" refers to the Newtonian paradigm which permeates our minds even today. I will take a look at your essay and leave some comments there.

Good luck

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Peter Jackson wrote on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 14:26 GMT
Daniel,

A well written essay and interesting idea. The latter may be fraught with assumptions and not provide solutions, but the problem certainly needs identifying and addressing as so many in mainstream science claim it doesn't exist. Great value exists then in just pointing this out, and you have done so and analysed at lease one area of study in a very clear and easy to read way.

However can I ask you to give me your views on a close relative to the theory which does seem better able to overcome the issues. Recognise that all boxes have limits, then reduce the size of one box and put it WITHIN the other, but always in relative motion. If it stops? then it just becomes part of the larger space.

We then have Einstein's "small space 's' in motion within larger space 'S'", and may then have "infinitely many spaces in relative motion". (1952).

The 'spaces' and boundary 'bands' may contain a few particles, or/and infinitely many particles as a two-fluid plasma boundaries (particles in both states of motion) to implement scattering to local c in all cases.

Each and every box then represents inertial system, giving a 'discrete field' model (DFM). We then have EM propagation at c within and with respect to each and every box. All matter may have its own tiny box, and all 'systems' of more than one particle at rest relatively (as your scenario) are inertial systems.

This works well empirically, spontaneously localising c, but can it be represented mathematically?

"Observation" would then be defined as a multi part process involving "detection" (physical interaction), "channelling" a signal (to a processor), then "computing" (new wavelength against time) to output a "measurement".

I'm interested in your view. I also run an application using this underlying mechanism in my own essay, which appears to be very powerful offering a resolution of the EPR paradox.

Peter

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Author DANIEL WAGNER FONTELES ALVES replied on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 15:36 GMT
The problem comes when you recognize 'detection', 'channeling' and 'computing' as physical interactions which should have an associated Hamiltonian! In principle they can be reduced to say, an electromagnetic interaction. So I still don´t understand why observation is 'special' in your picture. I´ll have a look at your essay.

Ps: I have provided solutions, and my assumptions seem reasonable to me. If you don´t agree, please tell me your reasons, we may have an interesting debate.

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Peter Jackson replied on Jul. 1, 2013 @ 17:24 GMT
Daniel,

I suggest we use Einstein and Wheeler etc's method. Visualise it fully first, and only then worry about the mathematics.

'Detection', 'channelling', 'processing' 'measurement' and 'observation' are indeed defined in detail including all EM interactions and implications. The orbital angular momentum of spin is the key, as is assigning the correct 'datum' frame for computing...

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Anonymous wrote on Jun. 28, 2013 @ 17:23 GMT
Hi Daniel,

I enjoyed your essay, your insight, and your acknowledgment of the challenges that lay ahead. Your recognition that GR and QM cannot (and will not) be united is correct, something is either missing in our tool kit, i.e. mathematics or our core theories are incorrect; I believe it to be a case of both.

As a graduate student in physics your approach is correct in looking and developing alternatives. You have your career in front of you and should now digest all that is available to you. Please remember that many physical theories are based on assumptions and depending on where an author of said assumption is ranked on the who-is-who list of physics, places that assumption as fact or fiction. Physics

Please study my very short essay, engage your supervisors and try and answer it - it may make a difference to your career.

All the best and good luck with the competition - Anton

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Anton Lorenz Vrba replied on Jun. 29, 2013 @ 10:21 GMT
Hi Daniel - the above post is by me - regards Antob

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Author DANIEL WAGNER FONTELES ALVES replied on Jun. 29, 2013 @ 19:05 GMT
Hello Anton, thank you very much. I´ll be a little bit busy until next week with exams, but once I finish them, I´ll have more time to read and discuss your ideas. Best wishes,

Daniel

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Antony Ryan wrote on Jun. 29, 2013 @ 10:42 GMT
Dear Daniel,

Great approach to the subject. I like the idea of using the measurement problem and you've used this well. Also nice diagrams.

Perhaps you'd find some common ground with my essay, if you get a chance to read.

Best wishes for the contest!

Antony

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Author DANIEL WAGNER FONTELES ALVES replied on Jun. 29, 2013 @ 19:06 GMT
Thank you very much Antony. I´ll be a little bit busy until next week with exams, but once I finish them, I´ll have more time to read and discuss your ideas. Best wishes,

Daniel

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Antony Ryan replied on Jun. 30, 2013 @ 16:21 GMT
All the best with your exams Daniel - look forward to discussions next week!

Best wishes,

Antony

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Torsten Asselmeyer-Maluga wrote on Jun. 29, 2013 @ 22:00 GMT
Dear Daniel,

very interesting essay. I think our point of view is very similar (or as Pauli express it in a letter to Heisenberg: boring agreement).

Maybe you will also find my essay inetresting.

Her I describe a concrete (topological) realization of your idea.

All the best for you

and good luck for the contest

Torsten

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Author DANIEL WAGNER FONTELES ALVES replied on Jul. 1, 2013 @ 15:50 GMT
Dear Tosten

I´m excited to see this topological realization. I´ll have a lot of time to comment on everybody´s essay next week. I think we may have a very interesting discussion.

Daniel

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Hoang cao Hai wrote on Jun. 29, 2013 @ 22:41 GMT
Dear Daniel

If math do not have enough ability,may be we try using a other measure, such as the measures that Mathematics is born.

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

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David M Reid wrote on Jun. 30, 2013 @ 05:41 GMT
Olà, Daniel,

I like your central point that one should define measurement in terms of Prof. William Lawvere's "semantic functor". I appreciate that the limitations of space kept your exposition of the semantic functor to a minimum, although I would have liked to see more of those details, perhaps at the expense of the mathematical details of the examples you presented at the beginning of the essay. Perhaps in this way it would have been clearer how this definition of observation could be applied to the measurement problem, that is, that the Hermitian operator associated with measurement is not unitary or, otherwise put, why the wave function seems to "collapse". Your examples in Section 3 concentrated on aspects of Newtonian and Einsteinian mechanics, which were of course good inspirations for the Category Theory approach, but I would have liked to see the idea applied more directly to the question you started with.

In any case, the essay flowed nicely, first pointing out the main problems to be solved, and then presented the start of a possible solution. Although Category Theory is occasionally used in physics, it would be nice to see a wider application, as you propose.

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Author DANIEL WAGNER FONTELES ALVES replied on Jul. 1, 2013 @ 12:08 GMT
Oi David! Thank you very much for the comments. A few comments on your thoughts:

"I like your central point that one should define measurement in terms of Prof. William Lawvere's "semantic functor"."

I´m truly impressed. I didn´t know Lawvere´s work, and I didn´t know that someone had already coined the term "semantic functor". I´ll take a look at his work to see if by "semantic functor" he means what I have proposed here. Thank you very much for bringing this information.

The exact way this definition of observation could be applied to the measurement problem is still a mystery for me, that´s why I did not mention it. Also, my examples on Newton and Einstein were not only inspirations. What I have proposed here is that the semantic functor that defines observation is exactly the one that "generates" general relativity (in the sense of Barbour) via diagram commutativity! I have looked quickly at your essay, and I´m very excited to read it in depth, specially your exposition on model theory. I´ll do it next week when I finish some exams here.

Once again thanks for your comments.

Best regards,

Daniel

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Israel Perez wrote on Jul. 1, 2013 @ 08:32 GMT
Hi Daniel

It is nice to read you again. You are presenting an excellent entry. The last year we have a discussion about absolute and relative issues. Now that I read your essay, I have some points that I'd like to discuss and clarify. I could notice some conceptions in your essay that reflect what I think are misunderstandings of the actual Newton's view about space, time and motion. So,...

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Author DANIEL WAGNER FONTELES ALVES replied on Jul. 1, 2013 @ 11:56 GMT
Hello Israel! Nice to see you here again. I´ll do my best to comment your thoughts, one by one. I´d like to point out that maybe I´m not the most indicated person to give arguments for the relational conception of motion. You can look at the references or email Barbour, Smolin and others for a deeper exposition. Anyway, above all I can say the relational picture is a viable alternative, and...

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Israel Perez replied on Jul. 1, 2013 @ 17:37 GMT
Hi Daniel

Thank you for your reply. I'm glad you had understood my main points. From your replies I could see that you are aware of the actual Newton's view and as you mention you are simply working out the relationalism approach because you think that this approach is more "economical" than Newton's. That's fine, it is nice to explore some roads.

You: Why should they be embedded...

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Author DANIEL WAGNER FONTELES ALVES replied on Jul. 2, 2013 @ 15:13 GMT
Dear Israel

"As I understood, your argument is that only objects are observable and therefore what mediates between them can be disregarded in the formulation. I wished you had answered my second question, and I'd like to insist on it: what is the physical thing that mediates between bodies?"

Why there should be a physical thing that mediates between bodies? If you have never...

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Thomas Howard Ray wrote on Jul. 2, 2013 @ 15:06 GMT
Hi Daniel,

Very nice! I have Israel Perez to thank for directing me here.

The question you raise in your title is *very* important, and truly fundamental. Bravo on the choice, and on your careful reasoning.

I like your treatment of the semantic functor, and I want to suggest something that in my opinion shows where Barbour errs in his program to rehabilitate Mach's principle for a complete physical theory:

As you show in fig. 4, the naturally non-commutative relation between process and semantically identical process terminates at y; i.e., all arrows orient on the output of process x ----> y such that the mathematical description alpha ----> Beta becomes part of the process input. In fact, this is exactly how the Hilbert space mathematics of quantum mechanics functions and which justifies the "shut up and calculate" school of thought.

Let's alter the map such that x

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Author DANIEL WAGNER FONTELES ALVES replied on Jul. 2, 2013 @ 15:21 GMT
Hello Thomas! Thank you very much. I think there was some problem, in your post is not complete. Please post it again.

Daniel

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Thomas Howard Ray replied on Jul. 2, 2013 @ 17:25 GMT
Dang it. I've never seen this glitch before. I wrote directly into the message box; I don't have a copy.

Since I took an hour or so to compose the message, I won't be able to recreate it as I'd like in my now limited time. I'll do my best to get the gist across:

Let's alter the map such that the arrow x ----> y is reversed. We then see that the ouput y accepts input through x, alpha, Beta and recursive to x. This illustrates the difference between a continuous measurement function that includes a time parameter and the discrete Hilbert space measure that does not. The map is also now identical to the real projective plane, RPP -- a nonorientable surface -- such that observer orientation alone assures both a noncommutative result and continuous input-output by the free will hypothesis.

Reversing the arrow x

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Thomas Howard Ray replied on Jul. 2, 2013 @ 17:29 GMT
Aha! I get it now. The system won't accept my arrow drawing, oriented to the left. Continuing:

Reversing the arrow (y to x) implies the independence of language and meaning (the theme of a paper I contributed to the Karl Popper Centenary in 2002), such that meaning is identical to neither the process of computation nor to the formal language (mathematics), and is solely identified with physical event.

All best wishes in the contest, Daniel!

Tom

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James Lee Hoover wrote on Jul. 3, 2013 @ 18:54 GMT
Daniel,

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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Author DANIEL WAGNER FONTELES ALVES replied on Jul. 7, 2013 @ 00:59 GMT
Hello James. I will take a look at your entry.

Daniel

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Michel Planat wrote on Jul. 5, 2013 @ 17:04 GMT
Dear Daniel,

I found your subject and your paper interesting.

I am surprised that you don't comment on quantum observables. For example, the word spin does not appear in your essay. Is there a reason for that?

Best wishes,

Michel

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Author DANIEL WAGNER FONTELES ALVES replied on Jul. 7, 2013 @ 00:55 GMT
Hi Michel. Thank you very much for your feedback. I did not discuss spin nor any quantum observable mainly because I just had this idea. I'm now thinking about how to rigourosly formalize this definition of observation and then look at QM equipped with it.

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john stephan selye wrote on Jul. 10, 2013 @ 16:33 GMT
Dear Mr. Alves,

Your highly technical treatise was most absorbing, though in many parts I had difficulty following it. I will therefore state my comments along the broadest lines.

Though there is much that interested me in your exploration of defining observation mathematically, my view is that even if the emergence of random outcomes could be explained and contextualized by...

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Héctor Daniel Gianni wrote on Jul. 13, 2013 @ 19:13 GMT
Dear Daniel Wagner Fonteles Alves:

I am writing you just because you are a physicist, I am an old physician and I don’t know nothing of mathematics and almost nothing of physics, so I can discuss your essay. I am sending you a summary of my “The deep nature of reality” thinking you may be interest in the experimental meaning of...

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Armin Nikkhah Shirazi wrote on Jul. 14, 2013 @ 08:47 GMT
Dear Daniel,

i just read your entry and found it very clearly written. I don't know much about category theory but your exposition has helped me get a better idea.

It seems to me that potentially there is a challenge with using category theory to help understand the measurement problem. Based on what little that I understand about category theory, it strikes me as most powerful when you start with structure that is already extremely well-understood and then use functors to clarify other less-well understood structures. It seems to me that when it comes to the measurement problem we don't have as yet a well understood physical theory in any realm of physics that could serve as the initial well-understood structure based on which the structural components of a quantum mechanical observation could be mathematical defined. Do you agree with this?

I would like to suggest that in mathematics, however there may be such a structure. In the second half of my entry I mention a principle which already underlies tacitly certain aspects of mathematics which I believe may also underlie quantum superposition and collapse. I have not found any formal mathematical treatment of this principle anywhere and would be very glad if you could take a look at it and share your thoughts with me.

All the best,

Armin

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Michel Planat wrote on Jul. 14, 2013 @ 11:44 GMT
Dear Daniel,

I will read your essay in detail in a week from now.

Mine also deals with a mathematical approach of quantum observations

http://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/1789

Best wishes,

Michel

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Giacomo Alessiani wrote on Jul. 17, 2013 @ 05:58 GMT
Mr. Daniel Alves,

the main title of Your essay, attired my attention, and not modestly,

this is my answer : m2v2 + m1v1 + nMz = 0 .

This simple formula, in my essay is derived by a very simple "shape dynamics".

I would like Your reply about.

See You and My best Regards.

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Joe Fisher wrote on Jul. 27, 2013 @ 15:21 GMT
Daniel,

I thought your essay was illuminatingly interesting. I do hope that you will not think me impertinent, but I would like to give my answer to a question you posed.

You asked: “ But is the notion of absolute space really indispensible? Newton knew that all he really measured were particle separation rij. Could we make physics dispensing absolute positions?"

I have helpingly listed all of the absolutes the real Universe conforms with in my essay BITTERS:

The real Universe only deals in absolutes. All information is abstract and all and every abstract part of information is excruciatingly difficult to understand. Information is always selective, subjective and sequential. Reality is not and cannot ever be selective subjective and sequential.

One (1) real unique Universe can only be eternally occurring in one real here and now while perpetually traveling at one real “speed” of light through one real infinite dimension once. One is the absolute of everything. (1) is the absolute of number. Real is the absolute of being. Universe is the absolute of energy. Eternal is the absolute of duration. Occurring is the absolute of action. Here and now are absolutes of location and time. Perpetual is the absolute of ever. Traveling is the absolute of conveyance method. Light is the absolute of speed. Infinite dimension is the absolute of distance and once is the absolute of history.

Joe

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Sreenath B N wrote on Aug. 2, 2013 @ 14:37 GMT
Dear Daniel,

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.

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

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john stephan selye wrote on Aug. 2, 2013 @ 16:25 GMT
Having read so many insightful essays, I am probably not the only one to find that my views have crystallized, and that I can now move forward with growing confidence. I cannot exactly say who in the course of the competition was most inspiring - probably it was the continuous back and forth between so many of us. In this case, we should all be grateful to each other.

If I may, I'd like to...

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Sreenath B N wrote on Aug. 3, 2013 @ 05:30 GMT
Dear Daniel,

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.

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

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Sreenath B N replied on Aug. 3, 2013 @ 16:11 GMT
Dear Daniel,

You have written a highly original article in which you have argued through simple mathematics how we can unambiguously deduce Newtonian mechanics and also extend it to cover even GR by imposing a relational conception of motion to a 3-D metric field theory. The problem of space, time, motion and observation are solved to a great extent mathematically by defining observation in mathematical terminology although this process is yet to be completed by extending it to ‘category theory’. Your knowledge of mathematics is simply impeccable and deep and its presentation is highly convincing. Thanks for writing an elegantly argued essay. For this I am glad to give this essay maximum possible rating.

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

All the best,

Sreenath

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Paul Borrill wrote on Aug. 6, 2013 @ 17:49 GMT
Daniel, Fonteles - I have already read most of Julian Barbour’s publications, but it was nice to see some of his key ideas summarized so nicely here.

I imagine that you might find the concept of subtime [1] a useful addition to your insights.

Kind regards, Paul

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

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Antony Ryan wrote on Aug. 7, 2013 @ 22:24 GMT
Hello Daniel,

How did your exams go? Hope it went well!

Best wishes,

Antony

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Author DANIEL WAGNER FONTELES ALVES wrote on Aug. 8, 2013 @ 04:34 GMT
Hello everybody. I´d like to apologize for my absence in the contest. As I said before I was in the middle of exams in the beginning and now I´m struggling to open my company. I´ll remain busy for a while, but many of the essays I´ve took a look at and the comments made here are very interesting. I´ll give all the good ideas the due attention once I´m finally free from all my other duties.

Best regards to all,

Daniel

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