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

Current Essay Contest

Contest Partner: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Fund.

Previous Contests

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


Thomas Ray: "(reposted in correct thread) Lorraine, Nah. That's nothing like my view...." in 2015 in Review: New...

Lorraine Ford: "Clearly “law-of-nature” relationships and associated numbers represent..." in Physics of the Observer -...

Lee Bloomquist: "Information Channel. An example from Jon Barwise. At the workshop..." in Physics of the Observer -...

Lee Bloomquist: "Please clarify. I just tried to put a simple model of an observer in the..." in Alternative Models of...

Lee Bloomquist: "Footnote...for the above post, the one with the equation existence =..." in Alternative Models of...

Thomas Ray: "In fact, symmetry is the most pervasive physical principle that exists. ..." in “Spookiness”...

Thomas Ray: "It's easy to get wound around the axle with black hole thermodynamics,..." in “Spookiness”...

Joe Fisher: "It seems to have escaped Wolpert’s somewhat limited attention that no two..." in Inferring the Limits on...

click titles to read articles

The Complexity Conundrum
Resolving the black hole firewall paradox—by calculating what a real astronaut would compute at the black hole's edge.

Quantum Dream Time
Defining a ‘quantum clock’ and a 'quantum ruler' could help those attempting to unify physics—and solve the mystery of vanishing time.

Our Place in the Multiverse
Calculating the odds that intelligent observers arise in parallel universes—and working out what they might see.

Sounding the Drums to Listen for Gravity’s Effect on Quantum Phenomena
A bench-top experiment could test the notion that gravity breaks delicate quantum superpositions.

Watching the Observers
Accounting for quantum fuzziness could help us measure space and time—and the cosmos—more accurately.

February 22, 2018

CATEGORY: Wandering Towards a Goal Essay Contest (2016-2017) [back]
TOPIC: Gedankenexperiment by Al Schneider [refresh]
Bookmark and Share
Login or create account to post reply or comment.

Author Al Schneider wrote on Jan. 12, 2017 @ 21:10 GMT
Essay Abstract

This paper considers a thought experiment in which a mathematically mindless universe randomly spawns life that can be self-aware and self-deceptive.

Author Bio

Al read “ABC of Relativity” by Bertram Russell at age eleven and books on UFO’s and WWI aircraft. Special relativity fascinated Al leading to an intense interest in quantum mechanics. He acquired a BS degree in Physics in 1969. He also developed an interest in magic becoming one of the world’s experts in magic deception. His professional life was dedicated to programming computers working on such devices as injection molding machines, pacemakers, airplane guidance systems and so on. Hobbies: Japanese sword fighting, karate, skiing, religions, and hot cars.

Download Essay PDF File

Bookmark and Share

Joe Fisher wrote on Jan. 16, 2017 @ 16:26 GMT
Dear Magician Schneider,

Reality am not experimental. Simple natural reality has nothing to do with any abstract complex musings such as the ones you effortlessly indulge in. As I have thoughtfully pointed out in my brilliant essay, SCORE ONE FOR SIMPLICITY, the real Universe consists only of one unified visible infinite surface occurring in one infinite dimension, that am always illuminated by infinite non-surface light. Reality am not as complicated as theories of reality are. The correct name of the author of ABC of Relativity am Bertrand Arthur William Russell.

Joe Fisher, Realist

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Georgina Woodward wrote on Jan. 25, 2017 @ 09:36 GMT
A refreshingly easy read. Thank you for sharing some good ideas.

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Jan. 31, 2017 @ 22:39 GMT
Good essay sir, “Consciousness is a dimension” is nice idea. How will you measure it , the measurement may vary from person to person. A police officer, a judge, a lawyer, your teacher, your wife, your children, your father and finally your mother may judge your personality differently. Can they judge your consciousness…

You have a nice flow of narrating the essay , best wishes

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta replied on Mar. 18, 2017 @ 09:52 GMT

I want you to ask you to please have a look at my essay, where ……………reproduction of Galaxies in the Universe is described. Dynamic Universe Model is another mathematical model for Universe. Its mathematics show that the movement of masses will be having a purpose or goal, Different Galaxies will be born and die (quench) etc…just have a look at the essay… “Distances,...

view entire post

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on Mar. 8, 2017 @ 00:25 GMT
Interesting essay which reflects the modern trend to highlight human consciousness as an integral part of the Universe. In physics it was Einstein in his Special Relativity who, by making the observer central to everything, has introduced this brilliant but deeply troubling concept. Brilliant because it helps solve practical technical questions about light, mass, motion and clock time, but troubling because, as I have argued in my essay , it negates a Universe that has existed and evolved according to its own laws aeons before or species emerged. Accepting SR and ceasing to search for the 'mindless' laws of the Universe has led to a dead-end in contemporary physics

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Dizhechko Boris Semyonovich wrote on Mar. 14, 2017 @ 06:52 GMT
Dear Al Schneide!

I appreciate your essay. You spent a lot of effort to write it. If you believed in the principle of identity of space and matter of Descartes, then your essay would be even better. There is not movable a geometric space, and is movable physical space. These are different concepts.

I invite you to familiarize yourself with New Cartesian Physic

I wish to see your criticism on the New Cartesian Physic, the founder of which I call myself.

The concept of moving space-matter helped me: The uncertainty principle Heisenberg to make the principle of definiteness of points of space-matter; Open the law of the constancy of the flow of forces through a closed surface is the sphere of space-matter; Open the law of universal attraction of Lorentz; Give the formula for the pressure of the Universe; To give a definition of gravitational mass as the flow vector of the centrifugal acceleration across the surface of the corpuscles, etc.

New Cartesian Physic has great potential in understanding the world. To show this potential in essay I risked give «The way of The materialist explanation of the paranormal and the supernatural” - Is the name of my essay.

Visit my essay and you will find something in it about New Cartesian Physic. Note my statement that our brain creates an image of the outside world no inside, and in external space.

Do not let New Cartesian Physic get away into obscurity! I am waiting your post.


Dizhechko Boris

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Al Schneider wrote on Mar. 15, 2017 @ 00:49 GMT
To Whom May be Interested

After reading many other entries in this contest and the few responses to this entry, I think something has been missed in this entry.

A point of the little story of the two physics students was to highlight a significant point. They did not see the reality of the situation with the penny. They concluded with their own idea of what happened.

The point is that is that our ability to intend and control our future may well be dependent on something else and we deceive ourselves in seeing the reality of the situation. In other words, "We don't understand anything yet and deceive ourselves thinking we are conscious."

Bookmark and Share

Ben Tolkin wrote on Mar. 17, 2017 @ 00:31 GMT
Just thought I would mention: when I first read this essay, I thought the concept of the magic trick from the beginning would crop up in a very different way! When you brought up consciousness as a dimension that can be measured, I was thinking about how flawed our measurement techniques are. Humans often attribute consciousness to unconscious entities; prehistoric humans immediately attributed the chaotic actions of the seas and weather to the whims of angry gods. How can we be sure our perception of consciousness isn't just us tricking ourselves?

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Al Schneider replied on Mar. 17, 2017 @ 00:53 GMT
Ben Tolkin

Thank you very much for this observation. That is driving to the heart of what I intended to present. I know my article appears naive compared to the complex articles around me. However, my intention was to drive deep into the heart of the subject without fanfare. To a degree you have made my effort worthwhile. Are we deceiving ourselves?

Bookmark and Share

Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Mar. 17, 2017 @ 05:22 GMT
My guess is..

You never picked up the topic, or told us what the answer was, but instead told us that we think what we think, and tried to get us to imagine what we need to know in order to find the answers to the essay question for ourselves. Of course; the two students never realized that the coin was never picked up, because their attention was diverted to your hand first - and then when the coin failed to appear, it looked like it had de-materialized. Had they looked on the bed, they would have known the 'heads or tails?' story for real, but neither one did.

I think consciousness is more than just fooling ourselves into believing we are aware, but I also feel certain that many are trapped in an illusion of much greater awareness and control than they actually possess. People could be in control of their lives, but need to engineer the right circumstances to succeed. Most folks could, through mindfulness practice or other means, cultivate a state of taking it all in and having total awareness. That's safe in the forest near my home, but when I am walking the streets of NYC I feel the need to be on high alert while tuning out the sheer intensity of what is going on around me.

I think you made me think.

All the Best,


Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Al Schneider wrote on Mar. 18, 2017 @ 19:13 GMT
Aims and intention are mindless mathematical laws. Consciousness, whatever that is, is aware of them but mistakenly believes it has spawned them. The magic of evolution over millions of years and random actions have enabled the survival of the fittest to develop these devices. Recent comments and the articles of others have moved me to refine my thoughts in my initial essay to phrase it in these new words.

Bookmark and Share

Willy K wrote on Mar. 19, 2017 @ 04:53 GMT
Hi Al

A nice thought experiment indeed. I rate your essay highly. Reminded me of sunlit Tuscany where Einstein was supposedly based during some of his epochal Gedankenexperiments. Have you looked into Conway’s Game of Life or the Cellular Automata based ‘science’ is has given rise to. They describe, in a mathematical manner, the process you have discovered in your thought experiment. Some of the submissions here mention these approaches. You may want to check out the essays submitted by Brown and Macleod for instance.

Regards, Willy

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Al Schneider replied on Mar. 19, 2017 @ 08:39 GMT

Thanks for your suggestions. Some of the material you refer to was on my mind as I wrote the essay. In general, I am overwhelmed by the references and big words used in most of these essays. I appreciate Brown’s comment of the difference between those that write and those that know. I am curious; however, how many of these essays suggest that we are deceiving ourselves? I feel as if I am not well read. One of my motivations in all of this is an intense study of Einstein’s theory of general relativity and Feynman’s QED. I am not aware that contemporary physics has viewed the development of general relativity in the light of QED. As I understand, Einstein developed general relativity before QED was voiced. One of my bedrocks in physics is Einstein’s special relativity. I feel that a correct understanding of that would unravel the rug called quantum mechanics.

Bookmark and Share

Peter Jackson wrote on Mar. 28, 2017 @ 14:41 GMT

Nicely done. I agree with all you write and infer. Self deception is our best developed skill!

Also with your comment above; "One of my bedrocks in physics is Einstein’s special relativity. I feel that a correct understanding of that would unravel the rug called quantum mechanics.

My essays here have taken that exact journey, finalists since 2010 ('2020 Vision' saying it'll take 20 years to enter doctrine)and recently tested the apparently consistent derivation of SR (fermions dictate local c by interaction) on QM and finding a unified classical description of both.

I may be deluding myself so please do read my essay and tell me! (have a first glimpse from this ; 100sec version of the video. (I also discuss why our brains delude us). However it's now 17 years on and no hint of change so I suspect it may be the majority mass delusion that wins out!

But do you have hope one day intelligence may emerge? (I remain undecided).

Thanks for a nice if short journey.



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.