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What Is “Fundamental”
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?
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

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go diherbal: on 11/6/17 at 4:03am UTC, wrote Its like men and women aren't fascinated except it's something to do with...

Sylvain Poirier: on 4/19/17 at 13:16pm UTC, wrote Dear prof. Henry I am glad to see you writing one more essay, as our views...

Dizhechko Semyonovich: on 4/7/17 at 8:20am UTC, wrote Dear Sirs! Physics of Descartes, which existed prior to the physics of...

Peter Jackson: on 4/6/17 at 12:16pm UTC, wrote Richard Fascinating, and well under rated at 4.4. (boost coming). You are...

Richard Henry: on 4/1/17 at 10:27am UTC, wrote If you liked the tutorial appendix to my essay, I'm pleased to say that...

George Kirakosyan: on 3/26/17 at 5:37am UTC, wrote Dear prof. Richard! I have read your amazing article. Despite it is not...

Satyavarapu Gupta: on 3/11/17 at 19:59pm UTC, wrote Nice essay Prof Henry, Your ideas and thinking on history of mathematics...

Joe Fisher: on 3/10/17 at 16:53pm UTC, wrote Dear Professor Richard Conn Henry, Please excuse me for I have no...


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...

Steve Dufourny: "the fuzzy spheres are very relevant in fact ,they are non commutative, I..." in Alternative Models of...

Jason Wolfe: "Joe Fisher, I'm not sure reality is sensible. But the NDE/ghost stuff is..." in First Things First: The...

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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: How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intention? by Richard Conn Henry [refresh]
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Author Richard Conn Henry wrote on Mar. 3, 2017 @ 19:49 GMT
Essay Abstract

I build on my essay that appeared in Nature: "The mental universe."

Author Bio

Dick Henry was born in Toronto in 1940; he is Academy Professor in the Henry A. Rowland Department of Physics and Astronomy at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Download Essay PDF File

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Don Limuti wrote on Mar. 4, 2017 @ 00:43 GMT

That was amazing!

I started reading and could not stop to the end. I did not think anyone could do justice to this subject not only did you answer the essay question, you illuminated the whole world of reality.


Don Limuti

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Richard J Benish wrote on Mar. 4, 2017 @ 05:55 GMT
Professor Henry,

One of the reasons I enjoyed your essay is the poignant and efficient manner with which you critiqued the problem question of the contest. I think it is noteworthy how many contestants have written of how ill-posed and assumption-ridden the question is.

I must take issue with you (and many others) however, with regard to your statement that " certainly true." Certainly relativity has lots of empirical evidence to back it up. But I hasten to point out that, with regard to gravity (General Relativity), the interior solution remains virtually untested. Specifically, the Schwarzschild interior solution predicts that clock rates decrease to a central minimum. Not only is this intuitively questionable (symmetry arguments arguably imply the opposite), it is quite untested.

The kinematic counterpart for this clock rate prediction is the classic harmonic oscillation prediction for a test mass dropped into a hole through the center of a spherical source mass. Proposed by Galileo in 1632, the needed apparatus may be called a Small Low-Energy Non-Collider. The difference in clock rate as between a clock on the surface and one at the center is much too small to measure for accessible masses. But the kinematic prediction is well within experimental reach (with a modified Cavendish balance in an Earth-based laboratory or in an orbiting satellite.)

To be rigorously scientific we must therefore admit that we do not yet know whether relativity will be supported by the result of this experiment. To find out, we need to actually do the experiment. The huge gap in our empirical data may be characterized as representing the most ponderous half of the gravitational Universe--a gap that is customarily filled by assumption and extrapolation. I hope you see the value in exchanging the assumption for physical fact, as urged in my essay, Rethinking the Universe.

Thank you.

Richard Benish

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Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton wrote on Mar. 4, 2017 @ 10:30 GMT
henry, hi,

love that you turn the question round, to " How can aims and intention give rise to mathematical laws?". i took a different approach, being aware that there *are* mathematical laws that may describe conscious mind, but also altered the question to one more suitable.

question for you: what difference would it have made to your essay if you had a clear definition of both intelligence (and mind, and therefore of consciousness) to work from?

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Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on Mar. 4, 2017 @ 22:46 GMT
Hello Prof. Henry

I enjoyed your cheerful, supremely confident and competent sweep through history, time and space to affirm the centrality of the human mind. Very readable indeed. My essay was submitted and hopefully will be published soon. From my deepest iintuitions and from rudimentary notions in physics that have yet to be developed ( for example that time does not exist) I have reached the opposite conclusions. The human mind has nothing to do with the Universe. What amounts to Einstein's supreme act of hubris (that he might not have seen as such) - placing an observer into every situation, even where two atoms collide- does allow us to calculate efficiently various scenarios in technology. But it has nothing to do with the essential nature of the Universe or humanity.

Another thing I might mention is how you ignored the history of algebra, astronomy and the scientific method in order to yet again retell a skewed Euro-centric view of the history of science. Mathematics had important beginnings in ancient India, algebra was born in Persia, the scientific method in Iraq and Egypt (at the hands of Ibn Al-Haytham whose work reached Europe in Latin and helped spark the new thinking of the Renaissance.) Carlo Rovelli in Nature aired similar views as yours and I responded in Nature online as I did here. Unfortunately the link does not seem to be working.

Nevertheless I enjoyed the way you told your story, aware I will never be as convincing telling my story as you did yours! Cheers.


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Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on Mar. 4, 2017 @ 23:23 GMT
With reference to my above comment, Here is the link to my response to Rovelli's dismissal of Arab astronomy

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sridattadev kancharla wrote on Mar. 5, 2017 @ 20:51 GMT
Dear Richard,

Universe is an i-Sphere and we humans are capable of interpreting it as 4 dimensional dual torus inside a 3-Sphere, which consists of Riemann 2-sphere as Soul as depicted in S=BM^2 diagram in the attached doc. Soul is the simplest of the complex manifolds with in the 3-sphere, Mind and Body constitute the remaining complexity. Soul, Mind and Body are in a toroidal flux in human beings, exactly at the center of the 3-sphere one can experience the unity of the trinity and that is the now moment we experience. As there are 4 dimensions required for a 3-sphere, the regular 3 dimensions of space and the fourth dimension of time, it is obvious that the 2-sphere (Riemann sphere) of consciousness with in us is with out the time dimension and hence the saying "eternal soul". Poincare` conjecture implies that consciousness is homeomorphic (same or similar) in all beings manifested in all dimensions of the universe, as i have shown that Riemann sphere can serve as the fundamental unit of consciousness in There are no goals as such its all play.



attachments: 8_zero__i__infinity.docx

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Joe Fisher wrote on Mar. 10, 2017 @ 16:53 GMT
Dear Professor Richard Conn Henry,

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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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Mar. 11, 2017 @ 19:59 GMT
Nice essay Prof Henry,

Your ideas and thinking on history of mathematics are excellent and wonderful.

Belated 77th Happy birthday sir!

I am requesting you to have a look into my essay also

For your information Dynamic Universe model is totally based on experimental results. Here in Dynamic Universe Model Space is Space and time is time in cosmology level or in any...

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George Kirakosyan wrote on Mar. 26, 2017 @ 05:37 GMT
Dear prof. Richard!

I have read your amazing article. Despite it is not so correct to try fully evaluating it in such quickly way, however, I will dare tell my very positive impressions on some your "unusual" (for today!) viewpoints. You say, “The realization of ignorance is the beginning of wisdom.” I am fully agree with you, because I see that we have going not ahead, particularly, in nowadays physics but we definitely move into regress, on the matter how we now have used our mental capabilities, that given to us by God! So, we must critically to examine before, how rightly we have making our science now? Your work are significantly to my from this side. You are daring directly say; "The meaningless math cannot ..." (maybe for this your position is not so higher in the score list?) The matter is the realization of ignorance is not so desirable occupation for many people!

Coming to second part of your work, I can say only that is very interesting but it is a little out of my personal interest. I cannot say anything against, but only that I am inclined to put such a tasks and questions that can be realizable in the close future (maybe it because of I am long time working as an practical engineer!) I hope you can look my work and to say some remarks (in my page) that will be valuable for me as a opinion of one master experienced by life! Now I would support to you as it is possible!

Best wishes and long life to you!

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Author Richard Conn Henry wrote on Apr. 1, 2017 @ 10:27 GMT
If you liked the tutorial appendix to my essay, I'm pleased to say that I've now created an expanded and update version of it. If you have high school algebra, and if you want to learn physics for real, simply copy out the linked document, above all copying each and every equation (yes, there's a lot of them!). Enjoy!

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Peter Jackson wrote on Apr. 6, 2017 @ 12:16 GMT

Fascinating, and well under rated at 4.4. (boost coming).

You are the man I need it seems.

In my essay I've extended Pythogoeas theorem to 3D dynamics, showing that with a pinch of momentum from Maxwell a (quasi) Classical derivation of the predictions of QM is possible compliant with Bell.

Nobody seems able to show it's wrong. You may be the man! I hope.

Very best


(PS. If interested, the models precursor was last years top scored essay on reversible green & red socks. There's also a video Classic QM. )

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Dizhechko Boris Semyonovich wrote on Apr. 7, 2017 @ 08:20 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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Sylvain Poirier wrote on Apr. 19, 2017 @ 13:16 GMT
Dear prof. Henry

I am glad to see you writing one more essay, as our views are quite similar; still we have a few differences in some details. I included links to your essays some time ago in my list of references on the links between quantum physics and consciousness, in a try to gather and advertise similar efforts in this direction from currently isolated individuals, unfortunately...

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