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Current Essay Contest

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Wandering Towards a Goal
How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intention?
December 2, 2016 to March 3, 2017
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Trick or Truth: The Mysterious Connection Between Physics and Mathematics
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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
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Questioning the Foundations
Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?
May 24 - August 31, 2012
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Is Reality Digital or Analog?
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Contest Partners: Astrid and Bruce McWilliams

The Nature of Time
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Why Time Might Not Be an Illusion
Einstein’s relativity pushes physicists towards a picture of the universe as a block, in which the past, present, and future all exist on the same footing; but maybe that shift in thinking has gone too far.

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A bench-top experiment could test the notion that gravity breaks delicate quantum superpositions.

March 18, 2018

CATEGORY: Wandering Towards a Goal Essay Contest (2016-2017) [back]
TOPIC: Why is the world as it is? by Jarmo Matti Mäkelä [refresh]
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Author Jarmo Matti Mäkelä wrote on Feb. 24, 2017 @ 21:44 GMT
Essay Abstract

A discussion with Nicole Oresme, a medieval philosopher and mathematician.

Author Bio

I received my PhD in theoretical physics in the year 1994 from the University of Jyvaskyla, located in Jyvaskyla, Finland. I did my post-doc in DAMTP (Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics) in the University Cambridge, England, during the years 1995-1996. Since the year 2000 I have worked as a Senior Lecturer of mathematics and physics in the Vaasa University of Applied Sciences located in Vaasa, Finland.

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Jeff Yee wrote on Feb. 24, 2017 @ 21:56 GMT
It was very different reading your essay compared to others on this site. I give you high marks for creativity because it's entertaining - just like reading a novel - yet it blends in all the aspects of a mathematical paper. I got wrapped up a bit in your story telling that I probably missed a bit of the content, so perhaps I'll have to go back and read it a second time now.

I made an attempt at writing a novel a number of years ago. It's difficult to switch modes to tell stories. It's back to technical writing now for me (and my colleagues) if you want to take a look at our essay in this competition.

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Member George F. R. Ellis replied on Feb. 25, 2017 @ 13:27 GMT
Dear Jarmo

Your paper is beautifully written, and has interesting comments about the origin of data in the early universe.

It is not clear to me however that it relates closely to the fqxi essay topic.

Can you clarify?

George Ellis

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Author Jarmo Matti Mäkelä replied on Feb. 25, 2017 @ 19:46 GMT
Dear George,

Thanks for your comments. I interpreted the topic of the essay contest in the widest possible sense, and asked, what determines the ultimate goal of the evolution of the Universe. My suggestion was that the goal of the evolution of the Universe was determined by the binary code introduced into the cosmological horizon almost immediately after the creation of the Universe in a somewhat similar fashion as is the goal of the evolution of the human embryo determined by the genetic code introduced into the DNA molecule of its first cell.


Jarmo Mäkelä

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Steve Dufourny replied on Mar. 2, 2017 @ 14:57 GMT
Hi to both of you ,

Mr Makela,

It was an interesting reading.They turn so nthey are these 3D sphères .That said if I can how can you consider that our electromagnetic photonic informations and the informations of gravitation which are 3D codes are binar like the computing ???? it seems odd in a general analyse.Could you explain why you consider that our universal informations are binar ???


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Gary D. Simpson wrote on Feb. 25, 2017 @ 14:55 GMT

This was a wonderful essay ... highly entertaining and insightful. BTW, I knew he was going to wake up on the floor:-)

So in essence, you argue that everything in the universe, including sentience, goals, objectives, all physical laws ... EVERYTHING ... was determined by the particle configuration at 10^-41 seconds, and that it appears there is no way to get to a time earlier than 10^-41 seconds. Is there any room for free will? Or perhaps free will was built into the initial configuration?

Best Regards and Good Luck,

Gary Simpson

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Lawrence B. Crowell wrote on Feb. 25, 2017 @ 22:16 GMT
Good job with your essay! I very much enjoyed reading this. Interesting how you wove Oresme's medieval cosmology of spheres with the concept of the cosmological event horizon.

A similar argument can be made for black hole horizons or causal regions in AdS spacetimes with chains of strings. Strings at the UV energy limit form up into chains or a sort of megastring with endpoints with Chan-Paton factor that serve as Ising spins. Of course the cosmological horizon is for de Sitter spacetime with positive cosmological constant, while AdS has negative valued CC. A dS spacetime could be spun off from an AdS spacetime, say in the eternal inflationary type of scenario and the structures mapped into each other.

Your approach is more in line with the LQG approach. I tend to take more of an M-theory perspective. I have though pondered how these two approaches to gravity are related to each other. Maybe this opens a possible way of seeing that.

I gave your paper a good score that it deserves.

Thanks and cheers LC

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Joe Fisher wrote on Feb. 26, 2017 @ 16:36 GMT
Dear Dr. Mäkelä

Please excuse me for I have no intention of disparaging in any way any part of your essay.

I merely wish to point out that “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955) Physicist & Nobel Laureate.

Only nature could produce a reality so simple, a single cell amoeba could deal with it.

The real Universe must consist only of one unified visible infinite physical surface occurring in one infinite dimension, that am always illuminated by infinite non-surface light.

A more detailed explanation of natural reality can be found in my essay, SCORE ONE FOR SIMPLICITY. I do hope that you will read my essay and perhaps comment on its merit.

Joe Fisher, Realist

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David Brown wrote on Feb. 26, 2017 @ 20:15 GMT
"What is the fundamental reason for why the Universe is as it is?" What are the empirically valid explanations for Milgrom's MOND, the space roar, the photon underproduction crisis, and the GZK paradox?

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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Feb. 27, 2017 @ 01:31 GMT
Dear Dr Jarmo Matti Mäkelä,

Thank you for the wonderful essay on “ wormholes ". You have a very nice style of narrating complex mathematics in a simple way. My congratulations for it.

You are observations are excellent, “[1] With a small modification a black hole may be turned into a worm hole, and hence it is possible that the Universe may be criss-crossed by worm holes...

view entire post

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Rajiv K Singh wrote on Feb. 27, 2017 @ 02:52 GMT
Dear Jarmo,

Your essay breaks the ice of monotony of essays fashioned on the lines of science publications, probably FQXi encourages that for rigor. I suppose, it must be difficult to balance a lighter presentation with the rigors of science, a good effort!

Secondly, even if one does not understand the rigors of math in the text, one continues to follow the reasoning to at least grasp the idea.


While it may have become customary to quantify the information on the base 2, such as basis for 210121. Yet, apart from certain specific contexts such as spin values along a presupposed axis, could there be any generic reasons for nature to favor the base 2, or does it offer mere convenience for us to present the idea?

By the way, singular preference to quantify information appears to take the attention away from definite meaning (semantics) of the information -- just an observation.


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Stefan Keppeler wrote on Mar. 3, 2017 @ 13:43 GMT
Dear Jarmo,

your essay was entertaining to read. I'm still not sure though about your position concerning the question of the contest: How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intention?

(i) You argue that "all information about the properties of the universe is contained in the properties of its cosmological horizon". In your opinion, does this allow for goal-driven behavior of, say, you and me?

(ii) You spend the largest fraction of your essay on explaining the role of certain link variables at the cosmological horizon. Is this essential for your views concerning goals? Would anything change, if you replaced loop quantum gravity (LQG) by, say, newtonian mechanics and the numbers mp by the initial conditions of all particles? Or if you replaced LQG by ordinary quantum mechanics and the mp's by the initial wave function of the universe?

Cheers, Stefan

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Member Jarmo Matti Mäkelä replied on Mar. 7, 2017 @ 15:19 GMT

(i) According to my view it is possible that the existence of ourselves was somehow encoded to the Universe, when it was created. If this is true, then it is possible, that an ability for goal-driven behavior was also encoded in it.

(ii) If you think that there is the wave function of the Universe with definite and unique initial conditions, then that wave function evolves deterministically, and it is again possible that our ability for the goal-driven behavior has been encoded in those initial conditions. In this sense, nothing changes. However, my approach has an advantage that it suggests a solution to the problem of the cosmological constant.



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Stefan Keppeler replied on Mar. 8, 2017 @ 13:57 GMT
Thanks, that clarifies your position.

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Héctor Daniel Gianni wrote on Mar. 12, 2017 @ 00:02 GMT
Dear Jarmo Matti Mäkelä

I invite you and every physicist to read my work “TIME ORIGIN,DEFINITION AND EMPIRICAL MEANING FOR PHYSICISTS, Héctor Daniel Gianni ,I’m not a physicist.

How people interested in “Time” could feel about related things to the subject.

1) Intellectuals interested in Time issues usually have a nice and creative wander for the unknown.

2) They usually enjoy this wander of their searches around it.

3) For millenniums this wander has been shared by a lot of creative people around the world.

4) What if suddenly, something considered quasi impossible to be found or discovered such as “Time” definition and experimental meaning confronts them?

5) Their reaction would be like, something unbelievable,… a kind of disappointment, probably interpreted as a loss of wander…..

6) ….worst than that, if we say that what was found or discovered wasn’t a viable theory, but a proved fact.

7) Then it would become offensive to be part of the millenary problem solution, instead of being a reason for happiness and satisfaction.

8) The reader approach to the news would be paradoxically adverse.

9) Instead, I think it should be a nice welcome to discovery, to be received with opened arms and considered to be read with full attention.

11)Time “existence” is exclusive as a “measuring system”, its physical existence can’t be proved by science, as the “time system” is. Experimentally “time” is “movement”, we can prove that, showing that with clocks we measure “constant and uniform” movement and not “the so called Time”.

12)The original “time manuscript” has 23 pages, my manuscript in this contest has only 9 pages.

I share this brief with people interested in “time” and with physicists who have been in sore need of this issue for the last 50 or 60 years.


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Member Noson S. Yanofsky wrote on Mar. 27, 2017 @ 00:00 GMT
Dear Jarmo,

I enjoyed reading your creative essay. You make Oresme come alive.

It would have been nice for him to bring some medieval wisdom rather than read modern textbooks. Next time you bring him up from the dead, don't let him read books. See what he thinks.

I really enjoyed it.

All the best,


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Member Jarmo Matti Mäkelä replied on Mar. 29, 2017 @ 12:12 GMT

Thanks your comments. The problem with Nicole Oresme, as far as I understand him, is that he was so surprinsingly modern in his thinking that he was almost an anachronism in his time: Among other things, he performed preliminary investigations of calculus, and studied seriously a possibility of a heliocentric model of the Solar System. It is true that he was very familiar with Aristotle's Physics, but his attitude towards it was very critical. He was also the first to put forward a systematic theory of economics. Admirably, he flatly refused to believe in astrology. Given that he lived during the darkest and most superstitious times of the Europe he really was a great person.



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Giovanni Prisinzano wrote on Apr. 3, 2017 @ 13:31 GMT
Dear Dr. Jarmo,

I really enjoyed the reading of your essay, which I think is one of the best in the contest.

I find fascinating and even plausible the hypothesis that the whole history of the universe is mathematically encoded in it from the beginning. It is an idea that seems to have been suggested, although on different philosophical and mathematical basis, also by Leibniz. Your essay made me know and appreciate, in a vivid and original way, the figure of Oresme, about whom I will try to learn more.

Thanks and best regards,


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