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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.

January 21, 2018

CATEGORY: Blog [back]
TOPIC: Towards a Goal — Two Weeks to Go [refresh]
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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster wrote on Feb. 21, 2017 @ 14:45 GMT
We are not slouching towards our goal, we are not wandering towards it, we are stepping firmly towards it.

We have just under two weeks left until the closing date of our 2017 essay contest, Wandering Towards a Goal, and we have over 80 entries so far. (60 posted, and the rest in processing.) Historically, the number of entries at this moment in the contest triples over the last two weeks. At this rate, we may end up with 240, which smashes our past record.

The due date to enter is next Friday March 3, 2017, just before midnight Eastern Time. Take some time to read our summary of the theme, and the full rules; then think deeply and creatively; then write your essay!

You can also read submitted essays and leave comments and questions for the authors.

Good reading, good writing, and good luck.

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Pentcho Valev wrote on Feb. 22, 2017 @ 13:54 GMT
I hesitated for a while but in the end didn't find a way to combine physics and teleology. They are in a dialectical contradiction, which means that either of them can only be developed in itself - any hybrid between the two sides of the contradiction is not even wrong.

Sorry, I am unable to write an essay on this topic.

Pentcho Valev

this post has been edited by the author since its original submission

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Steven Andresen replied on Mar. 17, 2017 @ 04:04 GMT

I havent spent any effort sprooking my essay to date, but in light of these comments you made stating that physics and teleology are in dialectical contradiction. Incompatible! You sound like a tough customer, but I'm game for your peer review. I have an ultimate hybrid which you might not favor, but I'm sure you will get a kick out of all the same. If you will?

Steven Andresen

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Gary D. Simpson wrote on Mar. 4, 2017 @ 04:21 GMT

Looks like someone did a blanket one bomb on all or most of the newest entries ... sad, truly sad. It's not even mature enough to be childish.

Gary Simpson

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Gary D. Simpson wrote on Mar. 4, 2017 @ 15:21 GMT
Nice ... it looks like now someone (not me) has done a 10 bomb on most of the folks who got one bombed earlier. That is certainly one way to prevent the one bomber from gaining any advantage ...

Kudos to someone:-)

Gary Simpson

this post has been edited by the author since its original submission

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Philip Gibbs wrote on Mar. 4, 2017 @ 16:28 GMT
I believe the past record is actually 269 essays for "Questioning the Foundations." I got the counts by clicking on the FORUM tab.

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Bishal Banjara wrote on Mar. 5, 2017 @ 18:46 GMT
respected administrator,

I search search a comment box but I didn't' see it in this website...any way through this I could have direct talk with there is boundless opportunity to present for me kind of people, we could discuss , explore our vision, deal in both sensual and non sensual thought, and much more....but the way of judging the easy or say rating the essay is quite bit unsatisfactory because, we are the people here with different aims and intension ....we want to deal on our own kind or say similar kind of essay as we have and are used to such manipulations, depending on our knowledge, our, there is most probable to go the nice essay dealing with best foundational level in vein, because of uncatchebility of ones theme by other authors as the more philosophical perceptive are emerging more and more and in next aspect the rating by community could allow biasness in one among, I humbly request to select few essay but the judging must remain within administration with the justifications without allowing to rate by community but only could comment or discuss as like what we are dealing right now.....I am very sory but I want to see this site sustain, it is my humble request.... I am not showing my superiority..

thank you!!!

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Anonymous wrote on Mar. 15, 2017 @ 15:43 GMT
Dear FQXi team

Only recently I understood the critical importance of your project. And I want to congratulate you by the way you are working it out. Allow me some words to explain why I value so much your project.

The discovery process, in whatever field, is a repetitive two way process, paradigm to data (P-D) and data to new paradigm (D-P). In the first process (P-D), data is...

view entire post

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Steven Andresen replied on Mar. 17, 2017 @ 03:50 GMT
I like this take on things, and the way you explained how the machine that grinds out conventional science is primarily focused on Paradigm to Data interpretations, but not so good at Data interpretations leading to paradigm adjustments. It has lead to a situation whereby mainstream is mostly invested in a narrow view, even though there are enough unsolved mysteries that you would think it prudent to keep something of an open mind. I guess its human nature to be enthusiastic and get ahead of ourselves. Its a strength as well as a weakness.


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Alfredo Gouveia Oliveira wrote on Mar. 24, 2017 @ 14:45 GMT
Love or Hate?

I know that the voting is a kind of reality show, but my essay received so far 4 minimum votes (3 times “1” and a “2”, if I am not in mistake) and 5 high votes (average 4.2); how is that? Is my essay so special that one can only Love or Hate it? I do not know the answer given that the authors of the down votes do not leave commentary… “trolls”? Maybe… but almost 50%????? Frightening… or amusing?

Alfredo Gouveia Oliveira

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Domenico Oricchio replied on Mar. 24, 2017 @ 19:59 GMT
I am thinking a change, the next time, of voting.

I am thinking a mean of the given votes mean and the received votes mean, so that if a person give only ones, then the person lower the mean, if a person give high votes the person raise the mean.

In this way it eliminates the possibility of a direct influence against the neighboring competitors.

But, in general, with every vote system, the best essays remain the best essays.

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Alfredo Gouveia Oliveira wrote on Mar. 25, 2017 @ 13:17 GMT
Dear Domenico

As I say in my essay, the "Selection" process must be independent of the "Hypotheses generation" one; I do not see how to make that possible in this case. That is the main problem of the scientific system in Physics. However, I think that the FQXi has a pretty good solution for this contest. The main goal of the voting system seems to me to be promoting the discussion of the essays. And it works!!!! Then there is a jury that can also make a choice - this is a safeguard process,

As you are thinking in a way of improving the voting system, my suggestion, which I do not know if it is good, it is just one more hypothesis, is that a vote be valid only if the voting author leaves a commentary. But in the overall. I think you have an adequate system considering your purpose.


this post has been edited by the author since its original submission

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Domenico Oricchio replied on Mar. 25, 2017 @ 19:19 GMT
Dear Alfredo

The vote in general is always secret, so that there is complete freedom from the influence of any kind.

So that, for me, it is right that someone (and it happened to me many times) is free to give me one, without this leading to a negative reaction from me, on the other hand a high mark would affect my behavior (and anonymity is a required cure).

I know that some ones are, in general, a tactical game, but this cannot change the votes of the better essays, and this is the important part of the game.


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Alfredo Gouveia Oliveira replied on Mar. 30, 2017 @ 13:32 GMT
Dear Domenico

I was puzzled with the now five down votes in my essay. First I though in the possibility that some persons have considered that my explanation for some important aspects of life creation and evolution hurts their beliefs. We all have beliefs, wiling or not, and we react when we feel that they are put in question. Now, however, I understand that many votes, either negative or positive, are just strategic votes; I apologize for having considered the former possibility.


this post has been edited by the author since its original submission

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Domenico Oricchio wrote on Apr. 1, 2017 @ 10:23 GMT
I am thinking a method to reduce the effect of the tactical downgrading.

If the minimum possible vote of an author is 5, then the statistical effect of downgrading a competitive essays is reduced: for example an essay with mean 7 with 20 votes and N competitors have two possible downgrades, -6N/(20+N) and -2N/(20+N), so that the shift from the mean is reduced

So that the only deleterious effect is that the worst essays remain at zero mean, so that, like I make in the recent years, I don't votes for the worst essays because no one deserve a vote 1, but there are authors that consider it is important to win by any means, without ethics.

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Alfredo Gouveia Oliveira replied on Apr. 5, 2017 @ 01:37 GMT
Dear Domenico

Your idea can reduce this strange appearance of down votes, in the case that they are being given by authors. There are some strange things; for instance, whenever my rating approaches “5”, I immediately (in the same day) receive a down vote. Apparently, I am a persona non grata for some group of persons

There are strategies concerned with winning high votes but that is not really important because the goal of the voting system is not to select the best essay – that role is entirely of the Expert Judges – but to promote the discussion of the essays, to give “life” to the contest; and that goal is attained!

An alternative form of controlling the votes of "1" or "2" is requiring a justification of the vote, presented anonymously. Given that the main goal of the voting system is to promote discussion, it seems to me that it would contribute for a better environment and can help authors to improve their work. However, this is just an idea, and I am not sure that it is good idea.

The fact is that the current system, as it is, may not be perfect but it seems to me that it serves the goals of FQXi; on the other hand, the FQXi knows how votes are being used and therefore is the one that can identify any problem that may exist and to consider the adequate corrective measures. I would like to know the reason for the down votes I receive but I understand that the FQXi considers differently.

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Member Tommaso Bolognesi wrote on Apr. 4, 2017 @ 11:45 GMT
Dear Essay Contest creators, administrators, and Community,

I have been pondering about the evaluation criteria of relevance vs. interest, as expressed in: "An expert panel of judges will be instructed (and general readers strongly encouraged) to rate the entries by the degree to which they are relevant and interesting, as more specifically described below, with 1/3 weight given to relevancy and 2/3 weight given to interest."

Having to add up to unity, I understand that increasing the weight of 'relevance' would reduce that of 'interest', which includes such important aspects as originality, technical correctness and accessibility. BUT, unless the objective is to collect the maximum possible number of submissions, my preference would certainly go for stressing 'relevance' — adherence to the main topic. It seems to me that you have always made an excellent job and investment in figuring out the themes for the various Contest editions, with articulations into sub-topics and stimulating questions. This effort is essentially wasted whenever a submission does not focus on the proposed themes. At the same time, ‘divergent’ essays do not contribute to creating a wide but coherent spectrum of views on the relevant theme, which is a pre-requisite for really productive interactions among authors.

Finally, when it comes to rating, I admit that I still find it hard to assign a high score to a well-written essay which, nevertheless, fails to address explicitly at least some of the issues posed by the Contest organisers.

I am curious about your reactions. Best regards,


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Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Apr. 5, 2017 @ 03:51 GMT
This is a wonderful comment Tommaso!

I tried to make my essay address as many of the suggested themes as possible, within the context of my selected topic, rather than talking about a lot of stuff - and then saying at the end why it matters for how intentionality emerges. This is heavy stuff, philosophically, and a lot of entrants did not even try to deal with the key issues head on. I had the advantage of wonderful inspiring conversations with top scholars, to help fuel my ideas for an essay this year, but I could have written about the topic at least three different ways - other than what I focused on - and still kept on-target with the intended subject matter.

I have read a number of essays where the connection to the subject or relevance is tenuous at best. I have also read essays where the premise is easily disproved or plainly false, from the standpoint of scientific reasoning, reasonable logics, meaningful induction or conjecture, and so on. I find that some are substantially well-written, so they deserve at least a few points. I have personally given partial credit for either well-presented views or correct ideas, and a few more points for both - regardless of relevance. But I guess that if I was following the guidelines more strictly, relevance might bear more or less weight than I give it.

All the Best,


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Alfredo Gouveia Oliveira wrote on Apr. 5, 2017 @ 11:00 GMT
Dear FQXi Administrators

In the rules of this contest it is said that

“FQXi expects those providing community evaluations to do so based solely on the quality of the essay assessed. Voting collusion or bartering, mass down-voting, and other such forms of 'voter fraud' will not be tolerated, and participants in such will have (all) their votes discarded or in extreme cases their essays disqualified. Entrants should alert FQXi with information if they witness such activities.”

I have to report that I noticed that whenever the rating of my essay approaches “5”, I receive a vote of “1” or “2”. These votes are not supported on any commentary and, in my opinion, they are not at all related with the scientific quality of the essay, as required by the rules. Besides degrading the rating of my essay, these down votes degrade also the interest other authors may have towards it. This attempt to exclude my essay from the final phase is becoming more sophisticated because it started by voting “1”, then “2” and maybe “3” now, in order to make the procedure less obvious. But certainly the FQXi can easily identify the situation.

I know that the votes of authors are many times up votes, some more than others, we cannot expect that authors act as independent judges, but this somewhat exchange of benefits ends up by up rating all essays, and, although ones more than others, it does not really discriminate any essay and contribute for a friendly environment between authors; the down votes I received, on the contrary, strongly discriminate an essay, are not supported on comments, therefore do not contribute to the exchange of ideas, and are quite negative for environment of the contest, I think.

Best regards,

Alfredo Oliveira

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Gary D. Simpson replied on Apr. 5, 2017 @ 11:53 GMT

Surely you don't think that you are the only person to be one-bombed? It is very widespread. I've been hit with 8 one votes and 4 two votes ... also a few three votes but they could be legitimate.

The best thing for you to do is to interact with other contestants to get as many up votes as possible to offset the down votes.

Best Regards and Good Luck,

Gary Simpson

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Alfredo Gouveia Oliveira replied on Apr. 6, 2017 @ 13:23 GMT

Thanks! I am new here ... still learning... although that is a game I will not play like that... I do not desire to win that much. But you take a burden out of me, I was with a feeling of being "persona non grata" and I almost gave up. Many thanks!


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Gary D. Simpson replied on Apr. 7, 2017 @ 01:06 GMT

It was my pleasure. I too am not that concerned with winning although I present a hypothesis that I think merits critical evaluation. My essay is presently ranked very near the top 40 and could conceivable be in the finals with one or two more good votes ... or if I choose to use the same tactics as the one-bombers .....

With apologies to Shakespeare .....

To one-bomb or not to one-bomb, that is the question:

Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of petty minds

Or to take arms against a sea of cheaters,

And by opposing end them.

Best Regards and Good Luck,

Gary Simpson

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Don Limuti wrote on Apr. 7, 2017 @ 00:32 GMT

What a great essay contest! I'm trying to find the proper metaphor......perhaps the American sport of Roller Derby :)

A book was recommended to me by Marc Séguin: Jenann Isamel's, "How physics makes us free". This book is the answer to this essay contest (IMHO).

My kindest thoughts go out to the courageous people who will rate the finalists.

Best to all,

Don Limuti

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Rene Ahn wrote on Apr. 7, 2017 @ 13:06 GMT
Well, if I had to rate this contest, I would at least annul all the 1 scores, then disqualify all those that took part in the 1 bombing, and then see which essays come out on top. Because, as it stands the whole contest has been largely destroyed by the bombers. Pity, I had not expected this childish behaviour here. The main problem is that some rather nice essays are now hidden in the rubble, so something needs to be done to discourage the toddlers the next time.

this post has been edited by the author since its original submission

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Alfredo Gouveia Oliveira wrote on Apr. 7, 2017 @ 23:44 GMT
Well, my essay keeps being bombed after the voting deadline; can anyone explain me how is that?

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James A Putnam replied on Apr. 8, 2017 @ 00:09 GMT
Dear Alfredo,

The contest voting ends at 11:59 PM today Eastern Time.

From the guidelines:

"A rating code will be provided to each entrant in the confirmation email. The confirmation code will be at the bottom of your confirmation email. If an essay is considered ineligible in the Contest, the rating code will not be active. Community ratings can be submitted until 11:59 pm Eastern Time, April 7, 2017."

I will be submitting my vote for your essay in the last few minutes. Maybe it will have a chance to count. Good luck to you.

James Putnam

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Janko Kokosar wrote on Apr. 8, 2017 @ 03:45 GMT
I suggest some improvements of voting for the next contest:

1. Results of voting should not be evident till end of voting. (so there would be no low scores with intention for the change of order.)

2. Results of voting can be corrected.

3. Some mathematical analyses of scores surely exist on such a way that they compare fair and unfair scores.

4. Abstracts and curiculum vitae-s chould be evident in one file (for easier reading and printing).

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Janko Kokosar replied on Apr. 8, 2017 @ 03:51 GMT

There are some divided groups: for instance some contestants claim that free-will exists, some claim oppositely. People of the first group give bad scores to the second group and oppositely. My suggestion is to find two the most important groups and to give special awards for the best in the first group and for the best in the second group.

this post has been edited by the author since its original submission

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Eckard Blumschein replied on Apr. 8, 2017 @ 16:46 GMT
In Lorraine Ford gave a convincing argument for the necessity of free-will. I feel myself a bit in between both extremes. Of course, fatalism is nonsense. However, I am aware that my individual free-will is largely and plausibly arising from objective circumstances and memories in my brain and in my genes. The free-will of groups of animals and in particular of human societies is rather restricted. G. Cantor was certainly not correct when he proclaimed "The essence of mathematics is its freedom". Due to evolution of science, humanity as a whole has ultimately no chance of survival but to get more reasonable.

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Robin Berjon replied on Apr. 10, 2017 @ 13:46 GMT
While we're on the topic of improvements, it would be great if the discussion could switch to a modern forum implementation. Tiny fonts, unusual formatting, lack of threading, people constantly posting while not noticing they're logged out, etc. make it really hard to participate actively. Something like Discourse ( would really help.


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Pentcho Valev wrote on Apr. 21, 2017 @ 15:47 GMT
Money for teleology and silly songs only?

The teleology contest is a complete waste of money, and now FQXi has found it suitable to give some money to Sabine Hossenfelder for her breathtaking songs:

Catching Light – New Video!

Let me remind FQXi members that fundamental physics problems are by no means solved - second law of thermodynamics (is it true?), Einstein's 1905 light postulate (is it true?), dark matter (does it exist?), dark energy (does it exist?), Big Bang (did it happen?), etc. etc. Just an illustration:

Davide Castelvecchi: Battle between quantum and thermodynamic laws heats up. [...] But thermodynamics is paradoxical. The second law, which also puts limits on how efficiently heat can be converted into work - as happens in a steam engine - is particularly controversial. [see also my comments in Nature]

Pentcho Valev

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Pentcho Valev wrote on May. 1, 2017 @ 17:00 GMT
Speed of Light: Obviously Variable

A light source emits a series of pulses equally distanced from one another (for instance, the distance between the pulses is 300000 km). A stationary observer (receiver) measures the frequency:

Stationary observer

The observer starts moving with constant speed towards the light source - the measured frequency increases:

Moving observer

Does the speed of the pulses relative to the observer increase as well? We have the formula

(measured frequency) = (speed of the pulses relative to the observer)/(distance between the pulses)

which shows that the speed of the pulses relative to the observer does increase unless the motion of the observer miraculously causes the distance between the pulses to decrease (for instance, as the observer starts moving, the distance between the pulses somehow shifts from 300000 km to 200000 km).

Conclusion: Since the motion of the observer is obviously unable to change the distance between the pulses, the speed of light varies with the speed of the observer, in violation of Einstein's relativity.

Pentcho Valev

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