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 forums@fqxi.org 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
read/discusswinners

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.
read/discusswinners

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

read/discusswinners

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
read/discusswinners

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

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
read/discusswinners

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

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

The Nature of Time
August - December 2008
read/discusswinners

Forum Home
Introduction
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
RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Allen Wood: on 9/23/17 at 10:04am UTC, wrote It would seem that any future numeric system would still be implemented as...

Odessa Sabah: on 1/5/17 at 13:16pm UTC, wrote I have written a lot of computer modelling and animation software using...

Peter Jackson: on 4/26/15 at 12:14pm UTC, wrote Donald, A truly great essay. Massive shame I missed it earlier, and...

Joe Fisher: on 4/8/15 at 15:39pm UTC, wrote Dear Donald, I think Newton was wrong about abstract gravity; Einstein was...

Vladimir Rogozhin: on 4/1/15 at 11:21am UTC, wrote You're absolutely right, Donald. Can be called "trialektika". But the...

Donald Palmer: on 4/1/15 at 3:25am UTC, wrote Thank you for reading and responding Edwin, While mathematics applies...

Donald Palmer: on 4/1/15 at 3:11am UTC, wrote Thank you for reading and responding to my essay, Vladimir You have chosen...

Edwin Klingman: on 3/31/15 at 20:56pm UTC, wrote Dear Donald Palmer, I enjoyed your essay, and some of your comments have...


RECENT FORUM POSTS

Steve Agnew: "There are some questions that do not seem to have answers in the classical..." in Schrödinger’s Zombie:...

Steve Agnew: "Yes, there are two very different narratives. The classical narrative works..." in Schrödinger’s Zombie:...

Joe Fisher: "Today’s Closer To Truth Facebook page contained this peculiar piece of..." in First Things First: The...

Steve Dufourny: "lol no indeed it is not a lot,like I said I liked your general ideas.I have..." in The Demon in the Machine...

Steve Agnew: "There are three assumptions...is that a lot? The aether particle mass, the..." in The Demon in the Machine...

Steve Dufourny: "Joe,so lol you speak to God or it has send you this information lol ?..." in First Things First: The...


RECENT ARTICLES
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.

Thermo-Demonics
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.


FQXi FORUM
October 13, 2019

CATEGORY: Trick or Truth Essay Contest (2015) [back]
TOPIC: Can Mathematics Reasonably Represent Nature? by Donald Palmer [refresh]
Bookmark and Share
Login or create account to post reply or comment.

Author Donald G Palmer wrote on Mar. 7, 2015 @ 21:50 GMT
Essay Abstract

Starting with Eugene Wigner’s 1960 article, an expansion of natural science is made to study both inanimate and animate nature. Further expanding the goal of science to the full description of nature, the uniqueness of all objects and events is introduced shifting this goal of science to the description of unique objects and events. As our current scientific methodology and tools attempt to eliminate uniqueness, we cannot use current scientific methodology or current mathematical tools to describe such a unique world. Therefore we must retreat to science being the study of general laws. Given the importance of our mathematical tools to science, the question of whether our current tools are sufficient is asked. Bringing in historical analogies, a need for inventing new numeric tools is presented.

Author Bio

Trained as a mathematician, Donald Palmer has followed the world of computers in his career. He received a BA in Mathematics from Earlham College, then a Masters in Mathematics from Villanova University. He ran his own computer services and software development company for 11 years, before entering the bio-pharmaceutical world, where he now works designing software. He has worked on numeric representational concepts and written a short book on modeling of scale in the physical world.

Download Essay PDF File

Bookmark and Share



John C Hodge wrote on Mar. 8, 2015 @ 20:47 GMT
Well done. I agree and have suggested this in 2014 contest paper and in Survival is the only moral goal of life] Survival is the only moral goal of life.

For inanimate matter, the survival measure takes a form of growth such as mass attracts mass to grow in size and strength. But also note the politics reject the predictions goal of physics. This is the cause of not applying math to these areas.

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Donald G Palmer replied on Mar. 9, 2015 @ 06:17 GMT
Thank you for your response, Mr. Hodge:

Having been trained as a mathematician, I have also noticed the tendency for emotion to pull stronger than logic at many levels, not the least the political level. While I agree that math, and even more, logic, needs to be applied 'better' to many areas, the importance of the distinction of 'wisdom', taking account of emotion and the human condition, over 'logic' should not be lost.

It would seem the internet and discussions using this medium (such as this essay forum) are causing an evolution of communication and thought that is unprecedented. Maybe this aspect of connection between many different people can influence the scientific and political levels in a 'positive' direction.

Donald

Bookmark and Share



Member David Garfinkle wrote on Mar. 9, 2015 @ 20:32 GMT
This is an interesting and thought provoking essay. In particular, I find myself provoked to make the following points: (1) There is a difference between fundamental laws and useful approximations. Even if we have a fundamental law describing the motion of particles, the direct application of that law to 10^23 particles won't be something we can do. If the motions are random then a statistical...

view entire post


Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Ed Unverricht replied on Mar. 10, 2015 @ 01:39 GMT
I would like to respectfully disagree with your first point. It may be difficult to model 10^23 particles at once, but why cant we develop proper animations of say 10^3 particles and test these animation by proving they properly model nature? Would not proper models of small groups of particles provide additional insight into these particles?

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Donald G Palmer replied on Mar. 10, 2015 @ 01:50 GMT
Thank you for your feedback, Prof. Garfinkle

A couple quick responses: I hope we will move forward on including more animate situations into science and learn from previous discussions - not move backward into those old discussions.

I hope you are not missing the main emphasis of the discussion on numbers - that the concern is with how we represent numbers, not the numbers themselves. It can be very difficult to separate these items, since most any reference is made via a representation of a number In terms of manipulation of quantities, we could essentially remain with Rationals, but we could not remain with only fractions. It is the power of decimals (and positional-based numeric systems) which has allowed us such technological prowess way beyond previous ages. The ability to calculate is tremendously enhanced using decimals over fractions. In a forward looking direction, might there be a more powerful numeric system that could make calculations currently too difficult or even impossible with our current tools? Such numeric tools could produce technology our tools cannot.

Thank you for reading my essay,

Donald

Bookmark and Share



Ed Unverricht wrote on Mar. 10, 2015 @ 01:22 GMT
Dear Donald Palmer,

It looks like we may have a similar computer background so it is perhaps not surprising that I loved your essay. Your comment "animate objects need to be studied in a ‘timely’ manner, where the growth and movement of an animate object is crucial to understanding it." match my view.

Your argument leading to the comment "to achieve a full description of nature means to be able to describe individual situations, in all their individuality and uniqueness" was very solid.

I have written a lot of computer modelling and animation software using very small distances and time steps, so I would be very interested in "a short book on modeling of scale in the physical world" if it is something that is easy to post online.

Hope you get a chance to have a look at my essay and I would be interested in your comments on my models of the particles of the standard model. The models are meant to be built on and to allow to more complex computer modelling of the interaction of these particles in both chemistry and solid state physics.

Best of luck in the essay contest and you deserve a great rating.

Regards, Ed Unverricht

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Donald G Palmer replied on Mar. 10, 2015 @ 01:59 GMT
Thank you, Mr. Unverricht

Scale is another topic I am quite interested in - however for another time.

I will read your essay also - and best to you as well.

Donald

Bookmark and Share



Eckard Blumschein wrote on Mar. 10, 2015 @ 16:25 GMT
Dear Donald Palmer,

Perhaps you were mainly motivated by curiosity as a teacher when you dealt e.g. with numbers. I am an old engineer and when I will read your essay, I expect that you might have arrived at similar ideas and also at different conclusions.

For instance, I don't see any reason to distinguish between fractions like 0.5, 1/2 and 4/8. Likewise I don't distinguish between, 100, 2 times 50 and 4 times 25.

I even expect experts like you having difficulties to accept my reasoning. Please don't forget, I was motivated by practical problems and found valuable historic details already in the second edition of Mückenheim's History of Infinity.

David Joyce commented on an earlier essay of mine that I made some interesting points. I hope you will agree.

Sincerely,

Eckard Blumschein

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Donald G Palmer replied on Mar. 12, 2015 @ 10:04 GMT
Thank you for your response, Mr. Blumschein

I think you are missing the very practical aspects of what I am proposing. While we have conceptions of Integers, Rationals, Reals, Complex, even Quaternions, these are theoretical definitions. When we perform calculations we cannot use these theoretic definitions, we must use a numeric representational system for them - such as fractions or decimals. I submit that, even if we had some concept of Real and Complex numbers, we could not produce our technology (and science) without a numeric system like the decimals. The ability to calculate with this system far outstrips that of fractions.

In a similar situation, I believe there exists a more powerful numeric system that has the ability to perform calculations significantly beyond what we can do today with our current systems. It goes hand-in-hand with expanding our theoretic conception of Complex numbers and also what we can measure - which expands what science can handle.

Take care,

Donald

Bookmark and Share



Vladimir Rogozhin wrote on Mar. 30, 2015 @ 10:18 GMT
Dear Donald,

Very interesting analytical essays in the spirit of deep Cartesian doubt. I note your particular important ideas, conclusions and fundamental questions for the "fundamental science" that I liked:

"If we use Wigner’s limitation of the study of nature to that of physics, then we immediately remove a huge swath of nature and knowledge – that of animate (or living)...

view entire post


Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Donald G Palmer replied on Apr. 1, 2015 @ 03:11 GMT
Thank you for reading and responding to my essay, Vladimir

You have chosen the critical parts of the essay, which I appreciate.

I read your essay, however there were enough terms I was not familiar that I do not think I could do the same with yours - my lack of knowledge.

Grasping to understand your comments, I think you are suggesting a three-sided dialectic, that gets beyond the two-sided situation of opposites, in order to get out of our current 'crisis of understanding'.

I suppose I am of the persuasion that, in some sort of cyclic process, we have been at such a crisis before and will get to another such crisis in the future. So we are at a 'current crisis of understanding'. It is imperative that we resolve this crisis, however such a resolution will not provide an underlying understanding of why we get into these crises and how to resolve or avoid them in future.

Again, thank you for responding and I hope to better understand your perspective.

Take care,

Donald

Bookmark and Share


Vladimir Rogozhin replied on Apr. 1, 2015 @ 11:21 GMT
You're absolutely right, Donald. Can be called "trialektika". But the "wave" is like "Figaro" - she carries two basic states of matter, "linear" and "vortex".

I totally agree with you - "a current crisis of understanding ... It is imperative that we resolve this crisis, however such a resolution will not provide an underlying understanding of why we get into these crises and how to resolve or avoid them in future."

Thanks for your comment on my forum - I gave my answer and explanation of my ontological structure.

With great respect,

Vladimir

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Mar. 31, 2015 @ 20:56 GMT
Dear Donald Palmer,

I enjoyed your essay, and some of your comments have helped clarify your points.

You focus on number 'systems' [i.e., decimal versus fraction, and real versus complex versus quaternion, etc.], pointing out that actual calculations depend strongly on the system chosen. You also note that modeling 'animated' systems shifts the focus to 'uniqueness'. You discuss using mathematical systems to model nature and seem to suggest that even more appropriate number systems may be discoverable/inventable. In my essay I discuss the use of AND and NOT gates (at all scales, from RNA/DNA to neural organism, to silicon machines) to evolve theories based on measurement data. It would seem that any future numeric system would still be implemented as combinations of these gates, regardless of the specific numeric representation (a sort of 'existence theorem'.)

You focus on the power of decimals for modeling reality, noting that

"Even if we had some concept of real and complex numbers, we could not produce our technology (and science) without a numeric system like the decimals."

That is an excellent point that is often overlooked in discussions of Wigner. As a result of reading your essay and your comments I also have new awareness of the distinction between the symbolic aspects of math and the numerical aspects of math, a distinction that is usually glossed over.

I invite you to read my essay and welcome your comments.

Best regards,

Edwin Eugene Klingman

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Donald G Palmer replied on Apr. 1, 2015 @ 03:25 GMT
Thank you for reading and responding Edwin,

While mathematics applies symbols in nearly aspects, values and calculations fall more on the 'Applied' side. However our representations of number are also used on the 'Theoretic' side, so representations of number seem to me to lie on the boundary of Theoretic and Applied math, impacting both plus many areas using either one (eg. Physics).

The fundamental aspects of AND and NOT gates to logic would suggest they should apply in most all situations where logic is applied, including mathematical models of nature. Applying them to animate nature seems an interesting direction, which I hope to understand by reading your essay.

Take care,

Donald

Bookmark and Share



Joe Fisher wrote on Apr. 8, 2015 @ 15:39 GMT
Dear Donald,

I think Newton was wrong about abstract gravity; Einstein was wrong about abstract space/time, and Hawking was wrong about the explosive capability of NOTHING.

All I ask is that you give my essay WHY THE REAL UNIVERSE IS NOT MATHEMATICAL a fair reading and that you allow me to answer any objections you may leave in my comment box about it.

Joe Fisher

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Peter Jackson wrote on Apr. 26, 2015 @ 12:14 GMT
Donald,

A truly great essay. Massive shame I missed it earlier, and tragedy it's not a finalist. My score would have been 10.

Thanks for your extraordinarily perceptive comments on mine. I've replied in detail there.

Great to make contact.

Peter

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Odessa Qamar Sabah wrote on Jan. 5, 2017 @ 13:16 GMT
I have written a lot of computer modelling and animation software using very small distances and time steps, so I would be very interested in "a short book on modeling of scale in the physical world" if it is something that is easy to post online 192.168.1.1 192.168.1.1 192.168.1.1 192.168.1.1

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Allen Wood wrote on Sep. 23, 2017 @ 10:04 GMT
It would seem that any future numeric system would still be implemented as combinations of these gates, regardless of the specific numeric representation . ccnp dumps 300-101

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.