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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?
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Is Reality Digital or Analog?
November 2010 - February 2011
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May - October 2009
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Dizhechko Semyonovich: on 4/7/17 at 10:51am UTC, wrote Dear Sirs! Physics of Descartes, which existed prior to the physics of...

Bayarsaikhan Choisuren: on 4/7/17 at 10:48am UTC, wrote Dear Arno Keppens, I have read your essay and this phrase is interesting...

Zabek Matzerath: on 3/15/17 at 14:07pm UTC, wrote Dear Mr Keppen, Reading through your excellent essay I have to admit that...

Arno Keppens: on 3/15/17 at 10:29am UTC, wrote Dear Peter, thanks for your encouraging words and appreciation. Your essay...

Peter Jackson: on 3/13/17 at 18:05pm UTC, wrote Arno, As someone with a famously refined sense of the ridiculous I...

Héctor Gianni: on 3/11/17 at 23:49pm UTC, wrote Dear Arno Keppens I invite you and every physicist to read my work “TIME...

Joe Fisher: on 3/6/17 at 17:03pm UTC, wrote Dear Dr. Arno Keppens, Please excuse me for I have no intention of...

Satyavarapu Gupta: on 3/6/17 at 13:10pm UTC, wrote Dear Keppens, Nice short essay on wonder is not a wonder… ! Your ideas...


Jason Wolfe: "There are two facts that have been established. First, the universe is..." in First Things First: The...

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

Jason Wolfe: "Hi Steve, It sounds like we have similar interpretations of quantum..." in Schrödinger’s Zombie:...

Steve Agnew: "Yes indeed, a wavefunction represents a superposition of locations as well..." in Schrödinger’s Zombie:...

Jason Wolfe: "Science is motivated to sever the connection with Deity. They use fluff,..." in Constructing a Theory of...

Robert McEachern: ""But what do scientists hope quantum computers will be good for,..." in What Will Quantum...

Zeeya Merali: "Over the past couple of months there’s been renewed interest, and quite..." in What Will Quantum...

Jason Wolfe: "If I could write an unconventional model of reality, it would come with a..." in Alternative Models of...

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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 22, 2019

CATEGORY: Wandering Towards a Goal Essay Contest (2016-2017) [back]
TOPIC: "Wonder is not wonder!" by Arno Keppens [refresh]
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Author Arno Keppens wrote on Mar. 1, 2017 @ 20:05 GMT
Essay Abstract

“Wonder en is gheen wonder!” was Bruges-born polymath Simon Stevin’s maxim (in late-medieval Dutch). He claimed that all happenings, however wondrous, complex or inconceivable at first view, eventually can be explained merely in terms of scientific interaction laws, although these laws are not all known or even accessible to us. In line with Stevin's view it is argued that any apparent aim that is perceived in mindless laws or in the action that results from them is indeed just that, an aim-oriented perception.

Author Bio

Arno Keppens (1984) graduated as Master in theoretical and computational physics from Ghent University (Belgium) in 2006. By October 2010, he finished his PhD at the Light & Lighting Laboratory (KU Leuven, Belgium). Part of Arno's doctoral research has been performed while working as a Guest Researcher at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST, Gaithersburg, MD, USA). US Government funding allowed him to continue this work at the NIST as a post-doctoral Guest Researcher. In 2012, Arno joined the Synergies research group at the Royal Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA-IASB, Brussels).

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Georgina Woodward wrote on Mar. 2, 2017 @ 20:28 GMT
Hi Arno, I enjoyed reading your essay. I'm not sure at the end whether you agree with the Absurdism stance. Is it your conclusion or have you left it as food for thought?

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Author Arno Keppens replied on Mar. 3, 2017 @ 09:04 GMT
Dear Georgina, thanks for your kind words. The absurdism stance is not really a conclusion, but rather a view that I indeed personally favor and therefore share as a (also rational/secular) alternative for the negative connotation that comes with nihilism. Nihilists typically claim that life is not worth living because it is useless to the universe. Absurdists are more positive by claiming that live is worth living, by acknowledgement of our instinctive strive for happiness, despite our knowledge and acceptance that it is useless to the universe.

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Steve Dufourny wrote on Mar. 3, 2017 @ 10:21 GMT
Hello ,gooiedag ,bonjour,Mr Kepens,

I am happy to see a belgian.Small country ,big heart.Thanks for sharing your essay and good luck in this contest

Regards from bergen,sad reality Mons Hainaut due to ps ,I am tired by their lacks of rational universalism.A catastrophic reality for wallonia ,Mons is an entrepreuneurial cimetery where psychology becomes odd.

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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Mar. 6, 2017 @ 13:10 GMT
Dear Keppens,

Nice short essay on wonder is not a wonder… !

Your ideas and thinking are good...

Your words… “Yet chemicals – through physics interactions – making species crave for survival and reproduction, the latter (un)fortunately (depending on your view) inducing accidental copying errors, resulting in slight interspecies variations that yield minimal yet...

view entire post

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Joe Fisher wrote on Mar. 6, 2017 @ 17:03 GMT
Dear Dr. Arno Keppens,

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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Héctor Daniel Gianni wrote on Mar. 11, 2017 @ 23:49 GMT
Dear Arno Keppens

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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Peter Jackson wrote on Mar. 13, 2017 @ 18:05 GMT

As someone with a famously refined sense of the ridiculous I applauded your essay loudly enough to carry from Kent. Kedged off Oostende once waiting for a zephyr to take us to the finish for line honours I convinced my crew we were really hanging on to Earth doing thousands of km/sec through the local group. We won the race but it did prove quite pointless! (unlike the mutual best time in the NSYC bar).

Yes, my essay entirely agrees with yours, far more concise, direct and succinct than mine. But then I do also find a slightly complex proof, after predicting and identifying why it will remain invisible to almost all! That's no wonder either!

Great job. I had to smile, and that alone is worth some points!

Best wishes


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Author Arno Keppens replied on Mar. 15, 2017 @ 10:29 GMT
Dear Peter, thanks for your encouraging words and appreciation. Your essay indeed is much broader than mine, covering many areas of research. I am not familiar with all material, but your first pair of conclusions is in line with my own understandings. Good luck with the sharing of your views, as much within the FQXi community as with your crew.

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Zabek Matzerath wrote on Mar. 15, 2017 @ 14:07 GMT
Dear Mr Keppen,

Reading through your excellent essay I have to admit that my personal deeply rooted aim-oriented perception has lead me to somewhat regret the apparent lack of purpose or meaning in the universe. I can however only succumb to your balanced list of rational arguments, even in the light of innumerable yet random events such as frogs swimming in public swimming pools, or the fact that we are celebrating Einstein’s birthday on π day… I guess you cannot have your π and eat it too. Keep up the good work!

Best Regards,


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Bayarsaikhan Bayarsaikhan Choisuren wrote on Apr. 7, 2017 @ 10:48 GMT
Dear Arno Keppens,

I have read your essay and this phrase is interesting for me.

“Going from the four basic forces of physics, over biological evolution by natural selection, to present-day personal or socio-economic behavior, phenomena are typically considered to gain intentionality. Or certainly the existence of humanity must have a higher purpose?...”

With Best Regards,


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Dizhechko Boris Semyonovich wrote on Apr. 7, 2017 @ 10:51 GMT
Dear Sirs!

Physics of Descartes, which existed prior to the physics of Newton returned as the New Cartesian Physic and promises to be a theory of everything. To tell you this good news I use «spam».

New Cartesian Physic based on the identity of space and matter. It showed that the formula of mass-energy equivalence comes from the pressure of the Universe, the flow of force which on the corpuscle is equal to the product of Planck's constant to the speed of light.

New Cartesian Physic has great potential for understanding the world. To show it, I ventured to give "materialistic explanations of the paranormal and supernatural" is the title of my essay.

Visit my essay, you will find there the New Cartesian Physic and make a short entry: "I believe that space is a matter" I will answer you in return. Can put me 1.


Dizhechko Boris

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