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FQXi FORUM
August 17, 2019

CATEGORY: How Should Humanity Steer the Future? Essay Contest (2014) [back]
TOPIC: Why we know a lot of the past but little from the future by Luca Valeri Zimmermann [refresh]
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Author Luca Valeri wrote on Apr. 24, 2014 @ 18:05 GMT
Essay Abstract

'Because the past has past and the future has yet to come' would be the simple answer. In this essay I try to go the round path with Carl Friedrich von Weizäcker that takes the structure of time - past, present, future - as necessary precondition for scientific experience to be possible and so for physics. Only from that precondition the growth of entropy can be shown. Given the physics (entropy grow) von Weizsäcker then shows, that the time structure we experience is realized in nature can be derived from the second law of thermodynamic. I want to show, that an additional element is needed: there must exist a mechanism of information grow, that makes the future unknown from the present. This is possible without contradicting the second law of thermodynamic. I further ask whether scientific experience can be derived from apriori knowledge and whether there is a being beyond physics.

Author Bio

I studied physics 20 years ago and try to understand it since then.

Download Essay PDF File

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Member Rick Searle wrote on Apr. 26, 2014 @ 01:20 GMT
Very nice essay, Luca.

Have you had the chance to read Lee Smolin's book Time Reborn? He makes similar points to yours but doesn't tie it as clearly to information flows, which you did and I thought was brilliant.

Reviewed it here:

http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/searle20130715

Would
be interested in your thoughts on my entry: "The Cartography of the Future" if you get the chance.

Best of luck!

Rick Searle

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Anonymous replied on Apr. 26, 2014 @ 21:44 GMT
Thanks for your comment, Rick.

And thanks for the link. I didn't know this book from Smolin. It seems that Smolin has also a concept of time that precedes physics. This makes him possible to think, that the laws of nature can change. There he takes a view that I call realistic in the sense that he thinks, there is something out there that follows this laws. That this laws have a certain contingency is part of that realistic view. That they can change is really new in physical thinking.

I take a completely different view. The laws of physics are as they are because they express the most general condition that make scientific knowledge possible. This means that we recognize nature only insofar as they follows the laws of physics. (That is actually similar to Einsteins answer to Heisennberg who said: But it was you that taught us that only things we can observe should enter the theory. Einstein replied that it is the other round: it is the physical theory that tells us, what can be observed.

Anyhow what I like in von Weizsäckers thinking is his philosophy of going in a circle ("Kreisgang"). We start with some vague notion of the structure of time. Use it to understand/derive physics and give to the notion of time a clearer meaning that we had before we started the circle. This is a bit like Bohr pointed out: "With the washing dishes it's just like with the language [of physics]. We have dirty dishwater and dirty towels, and yet it succeed in getting the plates and glasses finally clean up"

I read your nice essay and will try to comment on it.

Regards

Luca

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Member Rick Searle replied on Apr. 27, 2014 @ 15:50 GMT
Luca,

"The laws of physics are as they are because they express the most general condition that make scientific knowledge possible."

Is this like a version of the anthrophic principle only in regards to scientific knowledge? Why do you think the universe is comprehensible in this way? Or are the laws merely an expression of the degree to which the universe is comprehensible?

I am curious as to what you think of this thought per your ideas about information and the future: It has struck me lately that life itself and human institutions act in large part as bridges across time aiming to get information from the existent present into the non-existent future. Time is the essential feature for biological life, but how does this square with the notion of time in physics?

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Member Rick Searle replied on Apr. 27, 2014 @ 16:39 GMT
Oh, I hadn't realized your essay had not been voted on yet. I've done that now, so you'll get closer to the top and get more feedback on your wonderful essay from persons better at physics than I am. :)

Please vote on my essay if you haven't done so already.

All the best,

Rick

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Lawrence B Crowell wrote on Apr. 27, 2014 @ 23:42 GMT
Your essay is one of the better ones. It raises an interesting issue on how quantum physics can be unitary while at the same time more information is available to observers and entropy increases.

Cheers LC

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Author Luca Valeri replied on Apr. 28, 2014 @ 21:24 GMT
Dear Lawrence,

You point the finger on an issue I tried to avoid using the Ehrenfest model since I'm not sure what position I should take. But let me try. In the beginning of every physical theory there are 2 assumptions that are in conflict to each other:

1. there are separable objects with its contingent properties (represented by the Hilbertspace and its unitary dynamic in quantum theory)

2. These properties in order to be observable have to interact with another system.

Together they build a new Hilbertspace which again in order to be measurable has to interact with another object.

This all is well known. And leads to the description of the objects interacting with the environment, which is the traced out leading to the non unitary evolution. Usually the interaction with the environment leads to a loss of information and so to an increase of the entropy.

This all is quiet standard I would say. Now how can this be compatible with an increase of information?

In open systems like the earth free energy is pumped from the sun into the earth leading to a decrease of entropy and increase of information.

I like von Weizsäckers view that information growth can also be compatible with entropy increase. If we have only two levels then we can only deduce the increase of entropy: for a given macro state the actual information about the micro state will decrease and the potential information increase. To have information growth we need at least three levels A, B and C. A is the microlevel. C the macrolevel. B is a microlevel to C and a macrolevel to A. The second law of thermodynamics states that the number of possible states A for the given macrolevel C increases (=n(C|A)). If at the same time also number of possible states B in C (=n(B|C)) and A in B (=n(A|B))increases this would mean that number of possible forms increases. Increasing of log(n(B|C)) would be the information growth, if we know C and ask how many possible states B are realizable in it.

In this picture the entropy growth wouldn't be so hostile to evolution.

Thanks for asking questions. Hope you have some more.

Luca

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Conrad Dale Johnson wrote on Apr. 28, 2014 @ 14:26 GMT
Luca, thanks for your interesting reflections on physics from the standpoint of a Kantian a priori. I'm guessing that you gave us only a small part of your thinking on this, since there are so many different aspects of physics that need to be explained. Do you have an essay in one of the earlier contests?

My current essay is on a different topic (the evolution of communications media), but in the essays I wrote for the FQXi contests in 2012 and 2013 I was thinking about how we might be able to understand physics in terms of a different kind of a priori, namely the preconditions of meaningful communication between physical systems, or in other words, measurement.

Quantum theory seems to tell us that all the determinate information in the world is actually determined ("observed") by something. That implies at least that there exist contexts of physical interaction that make each specific item of information meaningful to what happens in the future, in some other context. I suggested that this kind of system might be the result of an evolutionary process, rather than an a priori in the Kantian sense. But the goal is similar to yours, i.e. to base physics on the preconditions of our experience.

Thanks again -- Conrad

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Author Luca Valeri replied on Apr. 28, 2014 @ 23:52 GMT
Conrad,

thanks for your reply and the links to your previous essay. I have read them with great interest. I also think that our views are very similar especially to the role we give to the measurement. What always puzzled me is on one hand how simple quantum objects are described: as state in a Hilbertspace giving all the possible probabilities for certain events to happen in a measurement and on the other hand how complicated the description of the real measurement is.

This leaded me in the third section to the highly speculative thesis, that the interaction must be uniquely determined by the measurability of the observables or eigenstates of that object. So definition of the object and its interaction with other objects is highly connected. (See also my reply to Lawrence.)

Of course a lot of questions remain open and I'd love to discuss them sometime in this forum.

About the laws of physics being determined by an a priori versus evolutionary process I have to think about that. I'm not sure if it is so different. I will try to coment on this later on. It s late now.

Luca

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Conrad Dale Johnson replied on May. 7, 2014 @ 13:56 GMT
Yes, this is the key issue -- that "the definition of the object and its interaction with other objects is highly connected."

As to the a priori -- Kant was the first to ask this new kind of question. Instead of just asking about "what is the case," as science always does, he also asked "how does this become possible? What does it take to make something like this work?"

Kant...

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Author Luca Valeri replied on May. 8, 2014 @ 20:53 GMT
Thank you very much Conrad for the clarification.

For me I try to adopt von Weizsäckers circular reasoning ('Philosophy des Kreisgangs'). The structure of time (logic of time, 'Zeitliche Logik')is precondition for physics. Physics is precondition of biology. Biology is precondition of human behaviour. Logical thinking can be interpreted as specific human behaviour. This no Circulus vitiosus but a proof of the consistency of the system.

We are not the same after we have made the round tour. Terms used in every stage have become clearer in their meaning.

Conrad thanks again for your comments.

Luca

By the way I rhave read your article ("Scientific Explanation and the Evolution of time") in the book 'Time, Science, and Society in China and the West' and of course found it very interesting. Specifically your thinking on "...the possibility that the deepest ground of being is radically indeterminate." And interestingly that this sets "... powerful constraints on the evolution of primitive temporal structure." This reminds me Wheelers "Law without law". For me this could lead to an explanation how reductionism is possible. As I haven't found any good explanation for it. (Do you have one?) But we might discuss this in a new topic if we find the time.

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John Brodix Merryman wrote on Apr. 28, 2014 @ 17:04 GMT
Luca,

I think the problem we have with understanding time is that since we are individual beings, we experience change as a particular sequence of events and so think of it as this point of the present moving from past events to future ones. Physics then distills this to measures of duration between these sequences.

The actual reality is the changing configuration of what exists...

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Author Luca Valeri replied on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 00:00 GMT
John,

I like your view of the future turinig into the past. Although I don't fully agree with your conclusions. However I think it is important to train our imaginagion to be able to solve fundamental quostions of physics.

Luca

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John Brodix Merryman replied on Apr. 29, 2014 @ 10:02 GMT
Luca,

I first submitted this concept to the first FQXI contest, in 2008, The Nature of Time. Much of my subsequent thinking on the topic has been formed by arguing with people, mostly on FQXI forums, usually Tom Ray, who disagreed with the premise. So while I don't think I'm wrong, I am certainly willing to consider where I could be mistaken.

What I don't like is having the idea ignored, because it would seriously alter much in current physics and more importantly, give us a better understanding of the world in which we live.

I would add that Julian Barbour won that contest with an essay which essentially argued the only universal measure is a composite of all actions. As he put it, the path of least action between different configuration states of the universe.

Regards,

John

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Author Luca Valeri replied on May. 1, 2014 @ 16:14 GMT
John,

finally had some time to read your words a bit more carefully. To what I referred, when I sad, that I don't agree, was the expression ".. turns future into past". Since this for me is suggesting, that the future is given. I don't agree with that. And as I understood neither you do. Now I read in your paper of 2008: "events go from future potential to past circumstance". The word potential is essential. Here fully agree. The future is given to us as potential that is actualized in the present - becomes a fact. The point in my essay is to try to use this to show that irreversibility can be explained with that view and on the other hand I try to show how this time structure is realized as informational relations in the physical world in order to give us that the impression of the time structure we experience.

Luca

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James Dunn wrote on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 11:26 GMT
Hi Luca,

I'm a little tired so I'm going to have to re-read your essay later.

One of the problems with present day physics is that space/time is not separable in mathematics representation. Space/time is inherent to the variables used.

Consider the differences in Energy and Momentum, not physically, but in terms of representation. Notice the recurring nature? What other processes have a recurring nature, virtually everything. A good example is crystal growth in the presence of an impurity.

My attempt at relating the recurring nature of physics to mathematics is found at:

http://vixra.org/pdf/1402.0041v1.pdf

Probability lumps together and hides causality. This is where space/time is thought to be separable, both in representation and manipulation.

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James Dunn replied on Apr. 30, 2014 @ 14:12 GMT
Luca,

Regarding the space between objects.

In an environment of relativity, empty space does not exist. Nowhere in our universe will you find empty space. Our observations are based in causal connectedness, we cannot directly observe anything outside of our system of relativity. The manifestation of empty space seems to be related to weak causal connectedness to space, time, or both. Still connected, but weakly.

Consider the space between subatomic particles, there is none. Subatomic particles overlap.

How is this possible? Observable artifacts are systems of space/time. But every observable artifact is connected to every other observable artifact in the universe; by what?

That is the purpose of "Axiom of Choice extended to include Relativity". This potentially provides a state space in which set theory can be used to develop experiments that can treat space and time as independent variables instead of mutually dependent variables.

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Joe Fisher wrote on May. 2, 2014 @ 14:50 GMT
Dear Mr. Zimmermann,

I thought that your essay was very well written and I do hope that it does well in the competition.

You were exceptionally sagacious in wondering if there was another explanation of the workings of the real Universe other than physics.

INERT LIGHT THEORY

Based on my observation, I have concluded that all of the stars, all of the planets, all of the...

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Author Luca Valeri replied on May. 5, 2014 @ 21:06 GMT
Joe,

thanks for your comment. I like very much the title of your current essay: 'Reality, Once'. That is brought to the point what I believe deep down. And it is exactly this, that make me wonder, how physics is even possible. How is it possible, that we can make such exact predictions as in physics? Here it is, where Kant kicks in: physics is so general because it follows from the precondition of the possibility of scientific knowledge. At least the formal structure of physics might be possible to derive from that precondition.

Wheeler exclaims: "There is no law!" That is why I hope that it might be possible to reconstruct even concrete quantum mechanics from a priori arguments.

Luca

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Jeffrey Michael Schmitz wrote on May. 2, 2014 @ 23:49 GMT
Luca,

Thank you for the essay. You are a good writer (there are many poor writers out there). I think there was an "m" that I could not figure out where it belonged.

I do need to re-read your essay. Please tell me how far off I am in my understanding. You have an interaction at a fundamental level in Physics which you say must exist and you indicate God might exist from that interaction. There are many interactions in Physics, I don't see how an interaction in spin states is more fundamental than gravity, as an example. I am trying to understand how this interaction relates to anything else. I will re-read your essay tomorrow with fresh eyes.

Hope you do well,

Jeff

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Author Luca Valeri replied on May. 3, 2014 @ 12:47 GMT
No, not god, space! Or at least a structure that behaves like space. But let me comment in more detail on that, when I'm back from holiday.

Luca

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Author Luca Valeri replied on May. 5, 2014 @ 02:59 GMT
Jeff,

Starting from the smallest thinkable object (qbit or 'ure') I postulate an interaction that measures the qbit. This interaction turns out to be Lorentz invariant. That is why I assume that the observable that measures the qbit could be space. Others interaction should follow, when we apply the same procedure to measure this space observable. It is an iterative process. That's why all known interaction have space as dependent variable. But it is not sure, that my 'space' observable is already space. Only when known physics is derived, we will know the meaning of this 'space' observable and whether it is really space or not.

It is like Columbus that wanted to travel to India. Only when he would have continued the trip around the earth and had arrived in known land (Europe), he could have been sure, that he really was in India or whether he was in an intermediate location.

Luca

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Joe Fisher replied on May. 5, 2014 @ 13:26 GMT
Jeff,

Reality is unique, once. Unique does not have a smallest. Abstract assumptions of "smallest" are unrealistic.

Joe Fisher

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Vladimir Rogozhin wrote on May. 5, 2014 @ 10:33 GMT
Dear Luca,

I read your essay with great interest. I fully agree with your conclusion:

«Given the uniqueness of each human being and of humanity also moral categories come into play. Something completely out of the scope of physics. We have to take responsibility for our future. How to steer the future of humanity? Use science in the best way possible but know its limitation in...

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Vladimir Rogozhin replied on May. 5, 2014 @ 19:56 GMT
Dear Luca,

Rating system works and I appreciate your essay.

Thank FQXi that brings together people for "brainstorming" on very important topics of modern Humanity and modern Science!

It would be interesting if it was still a topic of "Models of the Universe: modern ideas" to gather here on the portal FQXi, with all models of the Universe and discuss them ...

High regard,

Vladimir

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Author Luca Valeri replied on May. 5, 2014 @ 21:13 GMT
Thanks very much Vladimir,

I read your essay on Ontological Memory, Information and Time with great joy and look forward to read your current essay.

Luca

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Charles Gregory St Pierre wrote on May. 12, 2014 @ 05:28 GMT
Dear Luca,

Thank you for your essay, as it has inspired the following thoughts:

It would seem that if the future were deterministic, we could determine it, at least approximately. But then we could change it. There is no reason to suppose this 'ability' to be peculiar to humanity, or even life, but to operate, to some degree, at all scales. That is, the future is 'perceived' at a higher level of entropy, and then changed, symmetry breaking, to a lower state of entropy, which becomes the present. This would 'create' information. The direction of time, therefore, is the result of successive symmetry breaking.

Conservation of information says there is no (actual) symmetry breaking.

If the future were determined, the map from present to future would be a function, one to one, and not one to (many possible) states. Mapping into the past seems to be determined, different values of the present mapping onto ever fewer values going back, until just one at the quantum fluctuation. If the map onto the future is one to one, this would imply the backward mapping also one to one. That is also, no information is destroyed going backward.

I have trouble with the Everett interpretation of quantum mechanics, as it seems to imply the universe is still expanding exponentially, just in (exponential) dimensions we cannot see. In terms of symmetry breaking, it says all possible states are chosen: The pencil standing on its tip falls in every direction, each direction creating a new universe, only one of which we, looking back, exist in. The creation of matter in extra dimensions would seem to be energetically difficult, but perhaps I am mistaken. What, after all, is energy, aside from being, at least locally, conserved? It seems as if the inflationary process which generated this cosmos would be merely twisted, and not extinguished, when inflation appeared to stop.

Thanks again. Best of luck in the competition.

Charles

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Author Luca Valeri replied on May. 13, 2014 @ 11:54 GMT
Dear Charles,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. The following past my mind:

You are making an interesting conjunction between the possible microstates for a given macro state and the possible events in the future from the present known state. To continue this line of thought, it might be interesting to develop a thermodynamics of future events.

In quantum mechanics the possible events are context dependent. The context independent evolution is unitary and does not change the entropy. In his Ph. D. thesis 1988 Seth Lloyd develops an interesting theory of pure state statistical mechanic.

I also don't like the Everett interpretation of quantum mechanics. It avoids the problem of how the actualisation of possible events takes place. In the current contest Stuart Marongwe tackles this problem in his essay.

Luca

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Anonymous wrote on May. 16, 2014 @ 18:17 GMT
Dear Luca,

I would like to discuss on your statement:

"Physics describes structures that have elements that persist in time. Structures we can control, make measurements. Repeat measurements. This seems not to be possible with human beings that are unique."

With Corpuscular structure of matter, conservation and retrieval of information with the molecular substrates of mind, is not descriptive; in that time is external and not emerges with the dynamics of matter.

Alternatively, three-dimensional Tetrahedral-brane structure formation is plausible by the eigen-rotation of one-dimensional string-matter segment with the emergence of discrete cyclic-time in holarchical reference time, in that the asymmetry of time in entropy described by second law of thermodynamics is equivalent to the asymmetry of holarchical reference time in this scenario.

While the deterministic dynamics of the string-matter segments in continuum is causal for the three-dimensional structure formation, external control over the molecular structures in bio-systems, is possible. This implies that the physics of the immediate future with the observer is descriptive in cyclic time, whereas the physics of the far future with the observer needs attributes to determine its infinite cosmic connectivity that is 'being beyond physics'.

With best wishes,

Jayakar

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Jayakar Johnson Joseph replied on May. 16, 2014 @ 18:28 GMT
The post followed, was by me. Regretting for the technical error. - Jayakar

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Author Luca Valeri replied on May. 19, 2014 @ 11:36 GMT
Dear Jayakar,

I'm sorry, but I'm not sure if I understood your comment well. I try though. In my essay I also take the structure of time as 'external'. It is a precondition to describe any 'dynamics of matter'. But I believe that this structure of time then has to emerge from the dynamics of matter. This is a question of consistency. Maybe not the full time structure since it is exterior and maybe even precondition of logic and mathematics. So we can only derive necessary conditions for the time structure from the dynamic of matter. But not sufficient conditions.

The same might hold for free will. Free will might be preconditions for the possibility of physics. As we have to be able to prepare objects to predict and measure their properties. But then as consistency condition, we should be able to derive sufficient (although not sufficient) physical conditions for the possibility of free will. Many people think, that quantum mechanics will do the job. I don't think so. But I believe that clarifying the conceptual structure ('begriffliche Struktur') of quantum mechanics will help.

Sorry that might have been a bit off topic. But I think that a holarchical structure can might help to clearify. And I think that there is a lot yet not understood in the structure of time. So I will try to reread you essay and post some comments there.

Regards

Luca

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Christian Corda wrote on May. 17, 2014 @ 16:40 GMT
Dear Luca,

As I told you in my Essay page, I have read your beautiful Essay. Here are my comments/questions:

1) I like your definition that “physics is the most general language that describes the precondition of scientific experience”.

2) Which is the definition of “information” in your Essay?

3) I think that your eq. (1) is a time dependent Schrödinger equation, similar to the Dirac equation, rather than a Hamilton equation.

4) Which is the role of uncertainty principle in your analysis?

You wrote a nice Essay, which enjoyed me. Thus, I am going to give you an high score.

I have also answered to your questions in my Essay page.

I wish you best luck in the contest.

Cheers,

Ch.

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Author Luca Valeri replied on May. 18, 2014 @ 14:25 GMT
Christian,

thanks for reading, commenting and the generous rating. (Sadly for me someone gave me a 1 rating, while I was thinking how to answer. Second time this happened.)

2) In the example of the Ehrenfest urn model let K(n) be the number of micro states for a given macro state n. Then ln(K) is the potential information, we could get, if we knew the micro state. This is equal to the Entropy of the macro state. The actual information would be I=ln(Kmax)-ln(K)=ln(Kmax/K), where it has been normalized to be 0 for the maximal entropy state Kmax. The important thing to note is, that information is only given in the context of two levels. If we have more levels it is possible, that the information can grow. (see also my answer to Lawrence.)

3) You are right. It is a time dependent Schrödinger equation. Actually if p would be interpreted as momentum operator it would be the Weyl equation for relativistic massless spin 1/2 particles.

4) To know a contingent property of an object, the measurement system has to get entangled with the object. This 'disturbs' the object, so that other properties cannot be accessed any more. The problem is to derive the necessity of quantum mechanics from understandable first principles. A huge progress in my opinion is done by the work of Chiribella, D'Ariano and Perinotti, where the purification principle discriminates between classical and quantum theory.

Thanks again,

Luca

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Christian Corda replied on May. 18, 2014 @ 14:47 GMT
Dear Luca,

Thanks for your kind replies. I regret that you had a "1". Sadly,this year the number of guys who give low scores "1" only to drop Essays and without reading them looks to be increased.

I hope you will have a change to rate my Essay too.

Cheers,

Ch.

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Author Luca Valeri replied on May. 18, 2014 @ 15:52 GMT
I will. I will.

Luca

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Anonymous wrote on May. 20, 2014 @ 14:06 GMT
Luca,

I think you've done excellently understanding some of the key parts of nature, particularly the dependence on interactions. Top marks. I've found even more sense in that direction allowing coherent physics.

One thing that I've found emerging is 'cyclic' cosmology, resolving the 'pre-'big bang' problem and many more anomalies, and also showing entropy as simply one stage in the...

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Member Tommaso Bolognesi wrote on May. 22, 2014 @ 16:48 GMT
Hi Luca,

I`ve read your short essay, which gave me another opportunity to think about the Ehrenfest urn model - always fun. You may be aware that Penrose, in his latest book `Cycles of Time` treats the problem of the apparent paradox of reversibility and entropy growth. When I feel lost about this issue, I find some `relief` by reasoning in terms of probability: the movie of a sequence of steps in the Ehrenfest urn model - from complete color separation to full mix - is plausible both in forward and in reverse motion. Each step is feasible, but forward steps p -> q are, individually, those that correspond to higher probability (given the state p of the system on which they are applied!); when played backwards, q -> p, they are still feasible, but represent low probability (given the state q on which they are applied!).

I could not follow your exposition in Sect. 3, which seems a bit suspended, and its relation with the rest of the essay and with the topic of the contest. On the uniqueness of each human being, I think you were more effective in your post (at my contest blog page) than in the super short Section 4. I believe that, in spite of its current limitations, physics should and could address topics such as agency, spontaneity (in human beings or even other `lower` entities), thought, and consciousness, as I mentioned in the reply to your kind comments.

Ciao

Tommaso

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Author Luca Valeri replied on May. 23, 2014 @ 11:40 GMT
Dear Tommaso,

Thanks for your reply. Let me first try to connect the 3 topics of my essay and show how they are connected to the contests topic. My basic believe is that reality is neither mathematical nor computational. From this point of view the almost unity of physics as a miracle. How can we explain its success? Kants answer is that physics proves itself always in the experience...

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Author Luca Valeri replied on May. 23, 2014 @ 11:48 GMT
Here a working link do the paper of G.Chiribella, G. M. D'Ariano, P. Perinotti

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Ajay Bhatla wrote on May. 23, 2014 @ 22:30 GMT
Luca,

Straight and short essay. Enjoyed reading it.

Your answer "use science in the best way possible but know its limitation in describing what is really out there" is totally correct. I also agree that physics is not the right language to explain us unique humans.

In my essay (here) I value this uniqueness which is defined by each of our past and the present, and which specifies the future each of us want for ourselves, our family and our community. Please read it and let me know what you think.

-- Ajay

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Anonymous replied on May. 25, 2014 @ 05:33 GMT
I will. Thanks Ajay.

Luca

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Israel Perez wrote on May. 26, 2014 @ 21:50 GMT
Dear Luca

Very nice and well written essay. Discussions on the nature of time are always interesting. As far as I understand, there are two currents about time and you touch the traditional one. Time seen as a line: past-present-future.

I have given a deep thought on this problem and I came to the conclusion that there must be a law that determines how things are going to change assuming stochastic processes are fundamental. Some commentators have claimed that the laws of nature are not necessarily atemporal. A quite difficult topic indeed.

I'll be happy if you could take a look at my essay where I discuss the ideal that humanity should follow.

Good luck in the contest!

Best Regards

Israel

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Author Luca Valeri replied on May. 27, 2014 @ 07:30 GMT
Dear Israel,

Thanks for your reply. I don't think the time I propose is a line. Maybe in respect to the past, where we can talk about facts and maybe order this facts using the increasing entropy (the broken vase comes after the unbroken vase). Viewing the future from the present I propose that it is open. So one of many path could be taken.

I think the view of time I take is similar to the one you get or take as given when you asssume the fundamental processes are stochastic. Only that I have to understand/explain how this stochasticity might emerge from reversible unitary evolution.

Your essay is next on my list.

Regards,

Luca

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Conrad Dale Johnson wrote on May. 27, 2014 @ 15:35 GMT
Hi Luca --

I'm adding a new comment here, since my last comment in the thread above got hidden and is too easy to overlook.

In your comment to Israel Perez above, you say you assume that the fundamental processes in physics are stochastic -- "Only I have to understand / explain how this stochasticity might emerge from reversible unitary evolution."

I agree that at the deepest...

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Author Luca Valeri replied on May. 29, 2014 @ 08:14 GMT
Dear Conrad

Nice to hear from you again. I still own you an answer about the reductionism thesis in physics. I'll do that in another post.

Basically I agree with you with every word you said. But let me try to rephrase some of it in different terms.

In a fundamental level the contingent properties of physical objects are described by a boolean lattice of propositions. Only...

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Conrad Dale Johnson replied on May. 29, 2014 @ 13:37 GMT
Luca -- thanks, I look forward to your further comments. For now I just want to show you this paper I discovered yesterday, by a quantum information theorist at Oxford. He takes a step beyond Carlo Rovelli's Relational QM in thinking about the notion that "isolated entities can't have properties".

http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/0611047

Context, spacetime loops, and the interpretation of quantum mechanics by Andrew M. Steane

Conrad

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Conrad Dale Johnson replied on Jun. 5, 2014 @ 15:08 GMT
Hi Luca --

Since I think these blogs will soon be closed, I wanted to make one further comment on your statement -- "Physics might not be possible if objects do not have properties, that are independent from observations."

I would say, whether or not objects have properties "in themselves" does not matter for physics, in principle. It's convenient to say that a certain...

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Janko Kokosar wrote on May. 28, 2014 @ 10:14 GMT
Dear Luca Zimmermann

You attacted one very important part of physics, time and quantum mechanics. I agree that measurement is very important. You gave some important links. I explained time a little more with help of special relativity in section 4. In section 5 I try to prove, that existence of dimensionless masses of elementary particles also demands that time does not exist without elementary particle masses.

You did not mentioned this article, but the most probably you read it. But probably you have not heard for Hadley , who tried to connect general relativity and quantum mechanics with help of CTCs? Similar topic as you, have also Aaron Feeney on this contests.

Can you write more details about your derivation of equation (1). This is essentially. Is symmetry of special relativity hidden in Pauli matrices? I think that you write very similarly, as Brukner and Zeilinger?

You write "growing of forms (information) also can be possible within the growing entropy." Is this link connected with this.

What is your opinon about connection of consciousness and QM?

My essay

Best regards Janko Kokosar

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Author Luca Valeri replied on May. 30, 2014 @ 13:24 GMT
Dear Janko,

Thanks for the links. I read Holger Lyre. He is a profound connoisseur of Weizsäcker. I will read the other links as well. I find them very interesting.

For the derivation of my equation (1) the starting point is a radical atomism that states, that all known physical objects can be decomposed into qbits. This is logically true. Why this should make sense physically...

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Author Luca Valeri replied on May. 30, 2014 @ 13:26 GMT
About the connection of consciousness and QM I have not spent too much thoughts on it but:

1. I like your essay on this. It is very thoroughly written.

2. My interpretation of quantum mechanics leads to an infinite regress, since properties of objects are defined only relative to a measurement system who's properties are relative to another etc. I don't think this is a bad thing, but if we can understand this better I think we also can understand better consciousness with its self reflective aspects.

3. I like very much you p-zombie though experiment.

4. I also like your emphasis on the memory. Information to be perceived and stored has to be rare but repeated. An event the more it is repeated the less information it carries and the rarer it is the less it will become conscious.

Last but not least I have read your essay and had to laugh a lot. Sorry I did yet not comment on it.

Regards

Luca

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Anonymous wrote on May. 31, 2014 @ 06:03 GMT
Hi Luca,

Your approach to the subject is interesting.

You say: “The past is factual, has already happened. The future is open and has yet to come. This time structure can be used to derive irreversibility from reversible microscopic laws. It can then be shown that the irreversibility is the cause that documents tell us more about the past than the future.

I don't quite get the last senstence. But I imagine that: the future has yet to happen only in the sense that it is negative entropy waiting to become positive entropy. So that the term "observer" (the present) should be understood to mean UNIT OF UNRAVELING OF/OR ENTROPY.

That would mean that the future is only the reciprocal of the past and the PRESENT is their product, as captured in the notion of probability 1 or the notion "matter wave". My odd view!

Also you say: "Given the uniqueness of each human being and of humanity also moral categories come into play. Something completely out of the scope of physics."

Now really do you think morality will still be outside the scope of physics if we saw life (i.e. the observer; the "present") as only the conservation law i.e. the UNIT of measure of entropy as either negative or positive.

Your piece got me thinking. Actually it touches strongly uponmy own approach.

I invite you to read and comment FRANKLY. And I will like to be back here to rate.

Regards,

Chidi

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Chidi Idika replied on May. 31, 2014 @ 06:06 GMT
Just above was me. My computer has a mind of its own!

Chidi

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Author Luca Valeri replied on Jun. 4, 2014 @ 03:28 GMT
Hi Chidi,

It is still puzzling me, that we have only memories, stored information, documents about things that happened in the past. And none about the things that will happen. In my essay I tried to explain the physical reason for that.

About moral categories:

Physics asks: what will happen if we know the present state? Morality or religion asks: what shall we do? It s a totally different question, that cannot be answered by physics. It is out of the scope of physics.

In the sentence you cite about the uniqueness of humanity there shines a little hope, we could derive some moral goals given the uniqueness. Although I don't think this can be done rigorously as I am a religious nihilist.

Extended to the uniqueness of all species we could argue that we must try to preserve them as their extermination is irreversible. But does this also count for deadly viruses? I suppose not.

I started to read your essay and will also try to comment on it.

Regards

Luca

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Lorraine Ford wrote on Jun. 5, 2014 @ 00:33 GMT
Dear Luca,

I agree with you that there must be a "mechanism that creates information in order for the future to be unpredictable". I think this must be a non-mechanistic "mechanism" otherwise it would seemingly be representable as a law-of-nature equation.

As you say, without "a process that creates information", the laws-of-nature that we have uncovered would allow us to perfectly predict all future physical outcomes: "we would know already the future". (But I think we could only have predicted future physical outcomes that weren't too complex, i.e. without too many parameters and interactions).

As you say, "an additional element is needed", "the space between the things", "Something completely out of the scope of physics". But I think that this creative element is not itself representable as a mathematical law-of-nature equation. Only the result, the information created, is representable as a mathematical equation.

Best of luck with your investigations - I think you are on the right track.

Cheers,

Lorraine

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Author Luca Valeri replied on Jun. 5, 2014 @ 11:08 GMT
Dear Lorraine,

Thank you very much for your helpful comment. I also agree that a mechanism that creates information must be 'non-mechanistic'. Although I'm not sure.

In my essay I'm a bit sloppy in the use of the word 'predictable' or 'non-predictable'. Random processes as in quantum mechanics and statistical mechanics are non-predictable in the sense that they are not deterministic. But they are predictable in the sense that we have probabilities (or relative frequencies) that we can predict in repeated measurements. I would still call these processes mechanistic. But they seem to be able to create information. Creation of elements, atoms, planetary systems, primitive self-reproducing cells, complex living organisms, mental processes, free will (?), societies.

Complex systems seems to be non-predictable (not even probabilistic) but mechanistic.

Your notion of representable and non-representable is also helpful. Although non-representable suggests a 'thing' that cannot be represented in laws of physics. How can we even talk about (represent) that? What language should we use?

To go further: there seems to be an intimate relationship between the representable and the non-representable. The later seems to precede the former. But how is the later conceivable from the former?

I will investigate further. Thanks again

Luca

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Don Limuti wrote on Jun. 5, 2014 @ 20:12 GMT
Hi Luca,

I will argue the merits of Einstein vs. Bohr (which I would love to do).

However, I will not argue your thesis: "How to steer the future of humanity? Use science in the best way possible but know its limitation in describing what is really out there." Is the most intelligent in the essay contest.

I do like my own essay about education, but it is very much on the practical side, yours bridges the theoretical with the practical. It also take a good deal of courage to do this with the FQXi.org audience.

High Marks,

Don Limuti

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Author Luca Valeri replied on Jun. 6, 2014 @ 06:24 GMT
Thanks for your comment and rates Don.

Would be fun to reopen the debate Einstein vs. Bohr. I started to read your last essay and surelly will comment on that somewhere.

Regards

Luca

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Anonymous wrote on Jun. 6, 2014 @ 19:46 GMT
Dear Luca,

Let me thank you for your inspiring comment over at my page. Some people see poetry as vain and physics as fact. But it does not seem to me there is a "fact" that is NOT an image in someone's mind.

Conversely, fact is "common" vanity. And "vanity" is a fact you don't share.

Thank you Luca and Bohr (in one breath!) for this cogent observation.

Best,

Chidi

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Author Luca Valeri replied on Jun. 6, 2014 @ 20:14 GMT
Yes. I really think that poetry might reveal a deep through about our being in the world. And this might help to understand quantum physics.

Luca

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Chidi Idika replied on Jun. 6, 2014 @ 21:35 GMT
If those who actually read and appreciate an essay don't rate it, who will?

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Janko Kokosar wrote on Jun. 6, 2014 @ 23:04 GMT
Dear Luca, I gave you good points. I think that you deserve. If you will read my link of Brukner, I think, that you can publish your ideas.

Best regards

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James Blodgett wrote on Jun. 7, 2014 @ 03:24 GMT
You say "Use science in the best way possible." But what is best? One good criteria, though it does have limits, is the utilitarian "greatest good for the greatest number." This can generate very large numbers if we consider the resources of the galaxy.

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Author Luca Valeri wrote on Jun. 11, 2014 @ 22:04 GMT
Dear Conrad,

I want to reply to your insightfull comment from May. 29, 2014 @ 13:37 GMT

"I would say, whether or not objects have properties "in themselves" does not matter for physics, in principle."

This was troubling Einstein a lot and is at the core of the discussion about hidden variables and reality.

"the interaction can only do that in a context that makes the...

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