Search FQXi

If you are aware of an interesting new academic paper (that has been published in a peer-reviewed journal or has appeared on the arXiv), a conference talk (at an official professional scientific meeting), an external blog post (by a professional scientist) or a news item (in the mainstream news media), which you think might make an interesting topic for an FQXi blog post, then please contact us at with a link to the original source and a sentence about why you think that the work is worthy of discussion. Please note that we receive many such suggestions and while we endeavour to respond to them, we may not be able to reply to all suggestions.

Please also note that we do not accept unsolicited posts and we cannot review, or open new threads for, unsolicited articles or papers. Requests to review or post such materials will not be answered. If you have your own novel physics theory or model, which you would like to post for further discussion among then FQXi community, then please add them directly to the "Alternative Models of Reality" thread, or to the "Alternative Models of Cosmology" thread. Thank you.

Contests Home

Previous Contests

What Is “Fundamental”
October 28, 2017 to January 22, 2018
Sponsored by the Fetzer Franklin Fund and The Peter & Patricia Gruber Foundation

Wandering Towards a Goal
How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intention?
December 2, 2016 to March 3, 2017
Contest Partner: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Fund.

Trick or Truth: The Mysterious Connection Between Physics and Mathematics
Contest Partners: Nanotronics Imaging, The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, and The John Templeton Foundation
Media Partner: Scientific American


How Should Humanity Steer the Future?
January 9, 2014 - August 31, 2014
Contest Partners: Jaan Tallinn, The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, The John Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American

It From Bit or Bit From It
March 25 - June 28, 2013
Contest Partners: The Gruber Foundation, J. Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American

Questioning the Foundations
Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?
May 24 - August 31, 2012
Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, SubMeta, and Scientific American

Is Reality Digital or Analog?
November 2010 - February 2011
Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation and Scientific American

What's Ultimately Possible in Physics?
May - October 2009
Contest Partners: Astrid and Bruce McWilliams

The Nature of Time
August - December 2008

Forum Home
Terms of Use

Order posts by:
 chronological order
 most recent first

Posts by the author are highlighted in orange; posts by FQXi Members are highlighted in blue.

By using the FQXi Forum, you acknowledge reading and agree to abide by the Terms of Use

 RSS feed | RSS help

Joe Fisher: on 3/12/15 at 14:38pm UTC, wrote Dear Mr. Peterson, You quoted Alexia Auffeves and Phillipe Grainger’s ...

basudeba mishra: on 3/1/15 at 1:12am UTC, wrote Dear Sir, Though we understand the reason for your asking the question...

David Peterson: on 2/28/15 at 23:20pm UTC, wrote Dear Akinbo, I like history of philosophy, so I enjoyed your two essays...

Akinbo Ojo: on 2/28/15 at 14:26pm UTC, wrote Hello David, You make your point very clearly in your essay. There is not...

Sujatha Jagannathan: on 2/26/15 at 17:10pm UTC, wrote You're very classical as your essay with many perceptions filling the gaps...

Vladimir Rogozhin: on 2/23/15 at 11:21am UTC, wrote Dear David, I read with great interest your essay. I fully agree with your...

David Peterson: on 2/20/15 at 21:38pm UTC, wrote Essay Abstract Many mathematicians are Platonists in the sense of...


Jason Wolfe: "Hi Georgina, Steve, What is reality? The humorous answer, almost at the..." in Schrödinger’s Zombie:...

Jason Wolfe: "Joe, What you are saying sounds like mathematics. But mathematics doesn't..." in First Things First: The...

Joe Fisher: "Jason, You can only unnaturally make an infinite number of finite written..." in First Things First: The...

Jason Wolfe: "As for religious fundamentalists, I would rather deal with them, then with..." in More on agency from the...

Jason Wolfe: "The best we can do with the environment is to plant more trees and..." in More on agency from the...

gmail login: "Thanks a lot for the post. It has helped me get some nice ideas. I hope I..." in Bonus Koan: A Lake of...

Georgina Woodward: "Steve, I don't think the quantum representation of the hydrogen atom is an..." in Schrödinger’s Zombie:...

SAJ Real Estate: "Nice one. Real Estate Sales St Kitts" in A Close Encounter

click titles to read articles

First Things First: The Physics of Causality
Why do we remember the past and not the future? Untangling the connections between cause and effect, choice, and entropy.

Can Time Be Saved From Physics?
Philosophers, physicists and neuroscientists discuss how our sense of time’s flow might arise through our interactions with external stimuli—despite suggestions from Einstein's relativity that our perception of the passage of time is an illusion.

A devilish new framework of thermodynamics that focuses on how we observe information could help illuminate our understanding of probability and rewrite quantum theory.

Gravity's Residue
An unusual approach to unifying the laws of physics could solve Hawking's black-hole information paradox—and its predicted gravitational "memory effect" could be picked up by LIGO.

Could Mind Forge the Universe?
Objective reality, and the laws of physics themselves, emerge from our observations, according to a new framework that turns what we think of as fundamental on its head.

November 17, 2019

CATEGORY: Trick or Truth Essay Contest (2015) [back]
TOPIC: Physics Lives in Form Heaven by David Lyle Peterson [refresh]
Bookmark and Share
Login or create account to post reply or comment.

Author David Lyle Peterson wrote on Feb. 20, 2015 @ 21:38 GMT
Essay Abstract

Many mathematicians are Platonists in the sense of believing that their major concepts and theorems are discovered rather than invented. It is claimed here that the initial foundational source of those apparently spaceless and timeless mathematical ideas is the invariant Vacuum of physical space-time. This constitutes a non-classical yet “real” Form Heaven for fundamental physics and is a storehouse for all the knowledge of the physical constants, laws, and particles of physics. The intricate structure of the Vacuum is common to all intelligences in our universe and helps to constrain the reality of their emergent knowledge. A reductionist view begins with the basic set of quantum fields living in the Vacuum leading to more complex forms emerging from these fundamentals (protons, nuclei, atoms, molecules). These entities are quantum, and their nature along with the fundamental fields might be said to live in an unusual “square-root of reality.” Mathematics applies logic, intelligence and abstraction to world patterns and then gener- alizes at will forming abstractions of abstractions. But the field of mathematical-physics continually cross-fertilizes math and physics modestly limiting their divergence.

Author Bio

David Peterson holds a BS and MS in Physics from the University of Colorado, Boulder, with further graduate studies in the departments of Biophysics and in Mathematics. He worked as an Engineer and mathematical modeler in magnetic data storage for tape and hard disk for thirty years with publications mainly in the IEEE Transactions on Magnetics and the Computer Measurement Group (CMG). He is now retired but still has an active interest in physics and cosmology.

Download Essay PDF File

Bookmark and Share

Vladimir Rogozhin wrote on Feb. 23, 2015 @ 11:21 GMT
Dear David,

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

"What motivates mathematicians and physicists to devote their lives essentially to the study of these Forms? Transcendence and connectedness. We sense that we are participating in a huge world beyond our own limited experiences. We sense that the intelligences in the universe might discover the same truths we value; so we have a cosmic sharing. Without overtly expressing it, the physicist senses Einstein's "Cosmic Religious Feeling" which can be essentially summarized as rational "Deep Nature Appreciation."

I think we need a new interpretation of the ideas and eidoses of Plato taking into account all the accumulated knowledge for 2.5 thousand years. And even more, beginning with the first strike on the rock of our ancestor, the first fire and the first weapons. We need to understand the absolute forms of existence of matter (absolute states) to come to the new unifying paradigm . This requires a total unification of matter on all levels of existence of the Universe as a whole.

Here it is necessary to trace the dialectical line in knowledge, beginning with Heraclitus. We have a good idea of Bourbaki in the spirit of Plato - "les structures mere". John Wheeler left the physicists and mathematicians good philosophical covenant: "Philosophy is too important to be left to the philosophers".

I remember the words of the poet Alexander Vvedensky:

"We do not see the world in detail,

All insignificant and fractional ...

Sadness takes me from all this."(1930)

Physics, mathematics, biologists and poets should have unifying picture of the world, filled with all the senses of the "LifeWorld" (E.Husserl). And what is your opinion?

Kind regards,


Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Sujatha Jagannathan wrote on Feb. 26, 2015 @ 17:10 GMT
You're very classical as your essay with many perceptions filling the gaps between space-time.

Great indeed!


Miss. Sujatha Jagannathan

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Akinbo Ojo wrote on Feb. 28, 2015 @ 14:26 GMT
Hello David,

You make your point very clearly in your essay. There is not much to quarrel with except to make or ask one or two questions or statements.

First, in your description of "physical entities were said to ‘exist’", you mentioned the defining properties as mass or energy equivalence. If some measurable locus that was massless, and 'cannot deliver energy', but measurable in the sense that we can say the volume is 100 cubic metres, does it exist? In my opinion and according to Leibniz, I think in his Monadology, the defining property of what exists is the occupation of some locus.

You discussed in some detail the Platonic world, which is the road our mathematics and physics have in the main followed. Historically, there was a fork in the road, which led to the Platonic one and a less favoured one, which I discussed in my 2013 Essay, 'On the road not taken'. Aristotle, Proclus and others opposed the Platonic route with good reasons for doing so. You may take a look.

As you near the end of your essay, ideas like Frank Wilczek's Grid are introduced as a possible replacement to the old ideas of aether, plenum, substance, vacuum, spacetime, or world-stuff. If the Platonic route was followed but in a questioning rather than unquestioning manner perhaps there would have been no need now for this search for a replacement, as Space itself would have been able to do the job, with the smallest units of the grid being the non-zero dimensional point. This is the focus of my essay this year, essentially a continuation from the theme of the 2013 essay.

You may wish to read and comment. Thanks.

All the best in the competition.


Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author David Lyle Peterson replied on Feb. 28, 2015 @ 23:20 GMT
Dear Akinbo,

I like history of philosophy, so I enjoyed your two essays and the difference between ideal points and ``extended points’’ or monads. In the world of physics, distance measurement depends on massive detectors (or massive rods and clocks) and on detection of end-points as events (like tiny firecracker explosions or light flashes in space and time). We wouldn’t discuss pure volumes without some of these classical references. And for all practical purposes (FAPP), being ultimately discrete or ideally continuous wouldn’t make any difference. I suspect that it is likely that we will never ultimately know. And discussions of space (above nano-space) depend on understandings of special and general relativity to compensate for relative movement or curvatures. For truly tiny intervals, quantum mechanics plays a blocking role. Smallest units of the Grid are likely undefined and operationally un-measurable. I notice you used ``Space” with a capital as I use ``Vacuum’’ also with a capital letter.



Bookmark and Share

basudeba mishra wrote on Mar. 1, 2015 @ 01:12 GMT
Dear Sir,

Though we understand the reason for your asking the question “Does pi (= C/D) exist before we discover it”, it can be misleading. The ratio implies the existence of circular objects. Thus, the question can mean “whether circular objects (and by extension; any object) exist before an observer observes it” – the famous observer created reality. As evidence and experience...

view entire post

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Joe Fisher wrote on Mar. 12, 2015 @ 14:38 GMT
Dear Mr. Peterson,

You quoted Alexia Auffeves and Phillipe Grainger’s guess that: “The goal of physics is to study entities of the natural world, existing independently from any particular observer's perception, and obeying universal and intelligible rules.”

Please behold my reality Mr. Peterson: Proof exists that every real astronomer looking through a real telescope has...

view entire post

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Login or create account to post reply or comment.

Please enter your e-mail address:
Note: Joining the FQXi mailing list does not give you a login account or constitute membership in the organization.