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What Is “Fundamental”
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Trick or Truth: The Mysterious Connection Between Physics and Mathematics
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How Should Humanity Steer the Future?
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It From Bit or Bit From It
March 25 - June 28, 2013
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Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?
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Is Reality Digital or Analog?
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What's Ultimately Possible in Physics?
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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Sylvia Wenmackers: on 3/12/18 at 20:35pm UTC, wrote Dear Philip, My experience in reading your essay was that it was really...

Philip Gibbs: on 2/28/18 at 9:18am UTC, wrote Thanks to everyone for the comments and comparisons with your own essays....

Gary Hansen: on 2/26/18 at 23:56pm UTC, wrote Hello Philip, A belated read of your essay reveals confirmation of my own...

Philip Gibbs: on 2/26/18 at 21:45pm UTC, wrote Pete, I see information as a key characteristic of emergence. I agree that...

Philip Gibbs: on 2/26/18 at 21:24pm UTC, wrote Thank you Christian, I have read and commented on your essay. On the...

peter cameron: on 2/26/18 at 19:13pm UTC, wrote unanonymising here. Thanks for mentioning clarification you developed...

Anonymous: on 2/26/18 at 18:56pm UTC, wrote Thanks for your comment. You were hit by the anonymiser bug, but you left...

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FQXi FORUM
October 21, 2018

CATEGORY: FQXi Essay Contest - Spring, 2017 [back]
TOPIC: A Universe Made of Stories by Philip Gibbs [refresh]
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Author Philip Gibbs wrote on Dec. 20, 2017 @ 21:39 GMT
Essay Abstract

We know that some physical phenomena can be derived from a more basic substratum. Heat is a manifestation of the kinetic energy of atoms. Atoms are more fundamental than the laws of thermodynamics, but atomic physics in turn is derived from the interactions of more primitive components. Is fundamentality then a relative concept with no absolute bottom, or is there a fundament of physical law which is not derived from anything deeper? Does physics perhaps circle back on itself in recursive fashion? “Fundamental” is an adjective to describe a level of reality that is not derived from anything else. Fundamental laws are not in any way accidental or arbitrary. They must be as they are, because they could not be any other way. If such a level of reality exists, then how can it be explained? Do we just have to accept it as axiomatic? Does it emerge out of nothing? These questions seem unanswerable but we must not accept defeat so quickly. The universe exists, so there must be answers. Why would those answers be incomprehensible to us? I sketch some answers choosing information, events, symmetry, quantisation and stories as fundamental concepts.

Author Bio

Philip Gibbs is an independent physicist and mathematician.

Download Essay PDF File

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Scott S Gordon wrote on Dec. 20, 2017 @ 23:59 GMT
This essay in its summary hits a very important nail on the head with this statement...

" If young researchers are all corralled into one pen it could turn out to be in the wrong place. The chances are they are going to be influenced only by the highest profile physicists."

Excellent insight!

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Dec. 21, 2017 @ 17:49 GMT
Scott, thank you for your comment. I think there is a genuine concern that some directions are not being explored because the young academics are made to follow the direction set by the older physicists. I am not saying that they have it all wrong but where they are stuck we need more diversity of ideas.

The FQXi essay contest is a rare opportunity for people to think for themselves. It should be flooded with essays from PhD students but we only get a few of those. Are they afraid to say what they think? There is a lot more diversity from us outsiders so I hope we have a tiny bit of influence this way.

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Scott S Gordon replied on Dec. 22, 2017 @ 01:51 GMT
A lot of truth in regards to new ideas not coming from within physics academia...

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Gary D. Simpson wrote on Dec. 21, 2017 @ 16:36 GMT
Philip,

Many thanks for yet another interesting read. You have succeeded in provoking my thoughts.

You briefly mention that the particles that we observe are simply a manifestation of a stable state of the vacuum. Does this suggest that the vacuum is more fundamental than the particles that reside within it? I believe that it does.

I am intrigued by your notion of summing up histories. But doesn't this produce some type of integral? Wouldn't the thing that is being integrated be more fundamental and the resulting integral be emergent? And a history is itself a kind of integral. So you are really proposing a double integration.

You seem to have belief that information is fundamental although I did not read that explicit statement.

I thought your use of recursive thinking was very clever. In some ways, that is precisely how the scientific method works ... The analogy of using the Newton-Raphson method to calculate a square root gave me a little chuckle. I can tell you that in some systems, it REALLY helps if you have a decent first guess. You don't want to be on the wrong side of an inflexion point.

You placed a lot of emphasis upon different types of algebra. This tends to reinforce some of my own thinking. I have not yet tried to study the Lie algebra and such but I see that I need to do so.

All in all, a very good essay.

Lastly, allow me to thank you again for the website viXra.org. I continue to use this resource to post works.

Best Regards and Good Luck,

Gary Simpson

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Dec. 21, 2017 @ 20:20 GMT
Garry, Thank you for reading my essay. You have understood its important points.

I do indeed regard information as fundamental. This is a common idea that I am sure will feature in quite a few essays. It was something I was writing about 20 years ago and I have been influenced by Wheeler, Fredkin, Duff and especially Weizsäcker.

In the hierarchy of fundamentalness the vacuum is one above particles, but if there are many possible alternative vacua and spacetime is also emergent, then it is still some way down from the most fundamental levels where information is the main entity.

I am beginning to see how Weizsäcker's idea of an iterative process related to quantisation addresses some of the problems that fundamental theories face in terms of where do you start, so I am glad that part stood out. The question is then how to turn that into a theory that works. It is a task of matching philosophical ideas with what we know about how physics works. Lie algebras are important and based on a symple idea of composing small transformations.

The free Lie algebra is a structure that physicists and even mathematicians have neglected. It properties as a hopf algebra are striking and clearly related to physics. If people worked on how to generalise its mapping properties I am sure there would be a breakthrough.

I will be reading your essay soon.

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David Brown wrote on Dec. 22, 2017 @ 01:01 GMT
"It has always been my view that symmetry is not only fundamental, but there is a huge hidden symmetry in nature that unifies the symmetry of spacetime and gauge theory." My guess is that the huge hidden symmetry is the monster group.

Monster group, Wikipedia

If nature is finite and digital then my guess is that string vibrations are strictly confined to 3 copies of the Leech lattice. If nature is infinite, then my guess is that string vibrations are approximately confined to 9 copies (or more?) of the Leech lattice.

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Dec. 22, 2017 @ 15:46 GMT
David. I share your enthusiasm for the monster group. Its relation to physics via the Leech lattice is very intriguing. However, I am looking for a group with one dimension for every degree of freedom in physics. According to our current view of field theory there are several field variables at every point in spacetime, so I require an infinite dimensional Lie algebra with one dimension for each one. This itself is not so outlandish. In gauge theory there is an independent gauge group at each point in spacetime. These generate the gauge symmetry. However the gauge field has four of these at every point so there are not enough for my theory. If the final theory is something like string theory then it takes even more variables to describe the state space, so the symmetry has to be even larger. I don't know anyone who shares a belief in this idea but I bet that when they realise it is right they will say they knew it all along.

The monster group is the largest sporadic finite simple group. It has a huge number of elements, but it is tiny compared to the invariance group of any gauge symmetry. It is really answering a different sort of question to the one I am thinking of. However, the intricacy of its structure is remarkable. I would not be surprised if it has a part to play. In contrast, the groups that I consider most fundamental are a little boring. These are the free groups where you just multiply and invert group elements without imposing any structure apart from associativity

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David Brown replied on Dec. 25, 2017 @ 14:22 GMT
"... a group with one dimension for every degree of freedom in physics ..." If nature is infinite, then it is plausible to assume that physics has infinitely many degrees of freedom. If nature is finite, then nature might have only 78 degrees of freedom. Consider 3 copies of a model of 26-dimenional bosonic string theory, yielding 78 dimensions of bosonic waves. There might be a boson/fermion duality theorem derivable from Wolfram's cosmological automation. There could be 6 "barks" or "big quarks" each carrying a barkload of 12-dimensions of information, yielding 72 dimensions controlled by Fredkin's 6-phase clock, thus 78 dimensions of fermionic information. Each 12-dimensional barkload might represent 4 dimensions of spacetime, 3 dimensions of linear-momentum density, 3 dimensions of angular-momentum density, 1 dimension of quantum-spin density for matter, and 1 dimension of quantum-spin density for antimatter. By redundant representation of information, it might be possible to derive an 11-dimensional model of M-theory and a 12-dimensional model of F-theory — the idea is that the interior of the multiverse would be 72-dimensional in terms of "barkload" data, and the measurable universes would all be 71-dimensional and located on the boundary of the multiverse.

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Lawrence B. Crowell wrote on Dec. 22, 2017 @ 01:59 GMT
Is this issue of deforming or breaking the symmetry of the hexagon related to a paper I think you wrote about moving an object through a maze? I think it was titled the moving couch problem. It addressed the problem of the range of shapes that can be moved through a hallway with a 90 degree turn in the hall. I have been pondering something similar. We know you can't tessellate a plane with pentagons. However, if you shave off sides in various ways you might be able to approximate a tessellation. The question then is what is the minimum amount of deformation required to do this. Also, how is this related to the topology of a dodecahedron, topologically a sphere, and the R^2 plane.

Cheers LC

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Dec. 22, 2017 @ 16:05 GMT
Hi Lawrence. Yes the Lebesgue universal covering problem is in the same class as the moving sofa problem. They are both geometric optimisation problems like a minimax problem in game theory. The interest is in that simple questions lead to complex, but comprehensible answers. It seems to be the nature of the type of problem that this happens. The state of the physical vacuum is also an optimisation problem, but we don't know the question we have to answer yet. What we can say is that the complexity of the vacuum could emerge from a much simpler starting point.

I am sure you are aware that the problem of classifying pentagonal tessellations with a single (non-regular) pentagonal shape was solved this year Pentagonal Tilings but there are still lots of other problems to solve in this area.

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Lawrence B. Crowell replied on Dec. 22, 2017 @ 22:52 GMT
I was aware of the Bagina results and Mann, McLoud, Von Derau, but not the complete set by Rao. I suppose I should have done more of a heads up on this, but I have this small stack of drawings with calculations that are almost high school level.

This seems in some ways a bit similar to the covering problem. If I want to tessellate a plane with pentagons I have to deform them. If I have a dodecahedron I can form a plane by sending a point to infinity and the pentagons are deformed and I have an icosian. This gives metric data near the origin, but far out there is little data. I might think of then piecing icosians together to create a regular pentagonal tessellation of the plane, What then are the deformations necessary? I have to perform transformations on the pentagons, and what are transformations or deformations are required?

The vacuum is I think a sort of quantum time crystal. Wilzcek worked this up, where there is a periodicity of a discrete system in not just space but time. I make mention of this in my paper that will be coming soon. It is a part of my question with respect to tessellation of space with pentagons.

Cheers LC

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Gene H Barbee wrote on Dec. 22, 2017 @ 17:34 GMT
If we are instructed by your essay we may stray from scientific methods. Why should governments and universities fund endeavors if nature is relative to the view of each observer? They can just say “tens of thousands of people have been trained in the sciences and you guys are more confused than you were a hundred years ago”. But you say some very important things. There is a structure to consciousness and it draws on information. The information it uses is not always relative. For example most believe that atoms and the quarks they contain are the same every time they are measured. Electronic structure may be probabilistic and complex but it is consistent. I believe you would say that some symmetry causes this. I couldn’t tell for sure but you might also believe that the structure of consciousness may cause this consistency. This is a very productive line of thought. I associate what MIT calls the unitary operator 1=exp(iet/H)*exp(-iet/H) with the structure of consciousness. My essay deals with the quark “quantum circles” that this operator describes. The quantum circles can be either information based or real time and energy based. The operator and its quarks are a symmetry. The consciousness that contains quarks, atoms and electronic structure has access to consistent information that it can shape into what it pleases including relative thoughts.

Thank you again for creating viXra (but I notice that you are able to use arxiv). My December 2017 paper vixra: Information and Reality, viXra:1602.0219v2 follows the line of thought above.

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Gene H Barbee wrote on Dec. 22, 2017 @ 21:44 GMT
Phillip, I posted the above with too much haste. I re-read it and want to clarify that I meant no disrespect to you or your fine, thought provoking essay. I was reacting to only one of your thoughts, not your essay in general. I am sorry if it came across wrong. I don't know if you saw Tyson's concern that we have some leaders who ignore science as "fake news". I was thinking about damage control if there is criticism that science doesn't appear to be converging.

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Dec. 23, 2017 @ 09:06 GMT
Hi Gene, thanks for your comments. I have not been following the latest from Tyson, but I did submit an essay to the Global Challenge New Shape essay contest about how we could deal with these kinds of problems. The last thing we need to tackle fake news is fact checking organisation or any brake on free speech on the internet. I think peer review needs to be more open, not less open, but that is another subject. Nothing I have written is meant to be anti-science. When I say that reality is relative to the observer I am not saying we should accept alt-facts. I am talking about observers in different universes.

You say that I have access to arXiv but actually my access is very limited. I can only post to a small number of categories and my papers have often been moved to different ones. All my submissions are held for moderation. It was better in the past but now I prefer to submit my work to only viXra and researchgate. I have not submitted to arXiv for nearly four years

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John C Hodge wrote on Dec. 24, 2017 @ 08:05 GMT
I noted your comment to Gene Barbee's comment in Scott Gordon's essay.

Yes. We independents do it for our amusement. But, if one of us does get the beginning of a TOE a breakthrough, society and science will not know it. Or, will they?

A breakthrough means a new paradigm which the money people (the powers that be in science funding) wold consider it a challenge to their authority. So, society suffers because an advance means the society gains.

How does society become aware of the new paradigm? There are so many out there (just look at viXra) and most have almost no data or solved problems let alone predictions made and found.

I've been published in peer reviewed journal, on arXiv. But Now my model is just too radical (apparently). I no longer try.

But the model (STOE) has made predictions that were later found, explained problems standard models consider problems, the STOE suggested 2 experiments that were performed and it rejected wave models of light (a photon model produced diffraction and interference). Well, I still talk about it when I get a chance.

Hodge

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Dec. 24, 2017 @ 11:13 GMT
It is going to be very hard to get people to notice a new theory of fundamental physics from an outsider. Sometimes the sociology lines up and there is some short-lived media attention (think Garrett Lisi or Eric Weinstein) but the main problem is that a worthy theory needs to be very complete to be recognised. It may be that what I or you are saying is correct, but it is hard to see that now. It may become clear much later but even then we will get little credit because they will say that we did not have much influence and that is what counts. There is some truth to the "challenge to authority" claim, but a really clear breakthrough would get past that. Some of the essays here are mathematically sophisticated, but their correctness would need to be overwhelmingly obvious in some way to grab immediate attention.

I now prefer to work on mathematical problems because if you solve an interesting unsolved problem in mathematics it is much more likely to get noticed and appreciated. In physics I just do he FQXi essays because I find that the questions I get help push my ideas along a little each time

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Hans van Leunen replied on Jan. 22, 2018 @ 15:43 GMT
Independent writers that worked in industry and that start researching after retirement have severe problems in publishing unorthodox and controversial documents otherwise than via vixra. It is an excellent service.I praise Philip Gibbs for providing that service. I have found another way to present my knowledge in a concise and flexible way that enables revision of the published text. I publish in a Wikiversity project. It is a perfect way to present a coherent piece of knowledge and it offers an excellent editor. The format is familiar for those that use Wikipedia. The project that I initiated is https://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Hilbert_Book_Model_Project. Highlights of the project are collected at http://vixra.org/author/j_a_j_van_leunen. I use a ReseachGate project to discuss the Hilbert Book Model Project. https://www.researchgate.net/project/The-Hilbert-Book-Model-
Project This works fine.

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John R. Cox wrote on Dec. 25, 2017 @ 19:19 GMT
Phil,

"I expect to find this symmetry in a pregeometric meta-law that transcends spacetime."

That says it pretty well. Like the shape of a Lotus petal bespeaking the whole form of the opening blossom. In spite of the possibility that not even the universe always works perfectly. Merry Christmas and a Happier New Year. jrc

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Dec. 25, 2017 @ 21:30 GMT
Thank you and merry Xmas!

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Andrew Beckwith wrote on Dec. 25, 2017 @ 23:53 GMT
quote

The biggest difficulty faced by theoretical physicists of this generation is that positive experimental

input on physics beyond the standard models is very hard to come by. That situation could change or

it could continue for much longer. Without empirical data how is it possible to tell if the answer is

string theory, loop quantum gravity, non-commutative geometry or something else? The theorists

can still progress by working with the few clues they have, but success will depend on guessing

correctly the answer to questions like ‘what is “fundamental”?’ If they don’t know then they must be

prepared to consider different philosophical options, letting the mathematics guide the way until the

experimental outlook improves. If young researchers are all corralled into one pen it could turn out

to be in the wrong place. The chances are they are going to be influenced only by the highest profile

physicists. If those leaders say that symmetry is unimportant because it is emergent or that

geometry is more fundamental than algebra, other possibilities may be neglected. It appears to me

that there is a clear program that would combine the ideas of algebraic geometry with quantum field

theory. It just requires mathematicians and physicists to bring their knowledge together.

You nailed it !!!!

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Dec. 26, 2017 @ 09:11 GMT
Thank you Andrew

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Donald G Palmer replied on Jan. 1, 2018 @ 12:05 GMT
Phillip & Andrew,

There is an implicit assumption when depending upon mathematics "to guide the way" for new directions in physics. That assumption is that our current mathematics is adequate to the tasks we attempt to use it for. If it is not, then we will find it very difficult to make much progress. Mathematics likely suffers from the same effect as you describe for physics - the pen and corral situation.

I will suggest that this is actually the problem physics, which tends to lead other scientific disciplines so all of science, is faced with: The mathematical tools we currently have are not adequate to the task science has put to it.

The limitations of our mathematical tools might actually be keeping us from seeing aspects of our universe, which would be even more reason to consider fundamental reviews of mathematics and its limitations (especially on how it is applied).

I believe we will find a guide to a new direction this way.

Don

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Jan. 21, 2018 @ 10:01 GMT
I agree that we need some new mathematics to understand physics. Maths is a hard subject and it is especially hard for mathematicians to get organised. Each one understands too little of the whole making it difficult to see the important connections. I predict that at some point deep learning will crack the problem. When AI surpasses humans at discovering mathematics as it has now done in games such as chess and go, then there will be a big leap forward.

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Jochen Szangolies wrote on Dec. 28, 2017 @ 18:14 GMT
Dear Phillip,

I knew there's a reason I always prioritize reading your contributions to these contests. Excellent work, and you certainly succeeded in your aim of provoking the readers' minds.

I particularly like this sort of theory-independent view in terms of events: whatever the fundamental theory may turn out to be, it has to have events within it in some form, be those...

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Dec. 30, 2017 @ 15:49 GMT
I hope you do get round to submitting an essay this year. There is some overlap between our philosophies which helps me find ways to expand my own viewpoint.

There are two sides to my essay, the philosophical and the mathematical. On the philosophical side it is partly about finding the right words to express ideas in a way that makes them sound reasonable. I think in terms of a high degree...

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Jochen Szangolies replied on Jan. 10, 2018 @ 18:19 GMT
Right, now that my essay is up to illustrate where I'm coming from, some more comments.

I like how you characterized your approach over in my thread---as 'pushing back' the fundamentals. This somehow seems very intuitive: the more general the mathematical structure, the less assumptions have to be made, and the less attack surface for 'But why this?'-type questions exist.

But does this process have an end? In some sense, you can always generalize further---throw away some more axioms, to put it starkly. When are we general enough? Is there some endpoint that does not contain any assumptions that can be rationally doubted---and even if so, does this say something about the world, or about the boundaries of our reason?

Exceptional structures seem to be good candidates for endpoints, in particular because they lend themselves to chains that actually do seem to terminate. Octonions are the division algebra with the highest dimension, things stop there---but then, why division algebras? E8 is the largest exceptional simple Lie group, but why any of that?

That said, I can certainly relate to the intuition that there's got to be some mathematical object of maximal symmetry, something ideally self-justifying, which---one might hope---gives rise to observed phenomena through some process of iterated emergence, be that symmetry breaking or multiple quantization. So this is kind of a point where I have my doubts whether the whole thing works---but would love to be proven wrong.

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Jan. 10, 2018 @ 22:43 GMT
The "Why this?" question is an important driver in my thinking. I should perhaps have mentioned it more as you have. Of course it is nothing new. Wheeler asked what gave the equations wings to fly? Hawking asked what breathes fire into the equations?

I know some people see exceptional structures like E8 or the octonions as something that can answer this question. These things do seem to...

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Robert H McEachern wrote on Dec. 29, 2017 @ 08:13 GMT
"The mind itself is not fundamental. Neither are the biological processes by which it works, but the principles of information by which it functions are"

The central principle of Shannon's Information Theory is that, in order to reduce the length of any transmitted message, to the least possible number of encoded bits, it is imperative that the transmitter never send anything that the receiver already knows. For example, I don't need to keep telling you your name. But everything that you can predict, is a subset of the things you know. It follows, that everything that you can predict, is not even considered to be information, in Shannon's theory. That fundamental reality is enough to make most physicists apoplectic. They are searching for the truth, but as the movie said "You want the truth, you can't handle the truth." Because the truth is, the information content of most physical processes lies almost entirely within the unknown initial conditions, required to solve the equations of mathematical physics, not the long-sought equations themselves. This is what "emergence", emerges from.

Rob McEachern

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Jan. 1, 2018 @ 11:33 GMT
Rob, you are right to highlight the principle of redundant information. Imagine you wanted to send some information into space to tell any aliens something about us. You might send a bitmap photo image for example. To keep the transmission short you could compress the data, but the aliens would not have the decompression algorithm. When data is maximally compressed it becomes a stream of random bits that is impossible to decode without the algorithm. You could send send the algorithm in some uncompressed from, but that is adding extra information. The point is that fully compressed data without redundancy is incomprehensible.

The information that described the state of the universe is holographic, so it can be represented on a surface. This is the compressed form of the data. What we observe in the bulk volume is an uncompressed form with lots of redundancy in the form of gauge symmetry. In this form it is comprehensible to us. we observe and understand the universe in its expanded version, not the compressed holographic form.

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Donald G Palmer replied on Jan. 1, 2018 @ 12:38 GMT
Phillip & Robert,

There is an interesting assumption in information theory - that there is a limit to what can be compressed or represented by a 'unit' of information. There might be a limit, given today's mathematics, but will that always be the case?

How efficiently can I represent pi? Using decimal notation, it is an infinite non-repeating sequence. If I use pi as the base of the numeric system, then pi is 1 - possibly a tremendous compression of information, although not without its problems for other values. What if a new numeric system, that used different bases in the same representation of a number were found - might this supplant our current system?

If context and perspective can make such a difference in the presentation of information, can we be sure that the limitations of our current representational structures will not be radically altered in the future? Is a positional numeric system the optimal way to present the value of pi? Like optimization concerns in general, there might not always be an optimal solution. This could suggest there is no limit to what can be represented as (a unit of) information.

This also appears to be the implicit assumption of any final Unification Theory - that there is an optimal way (usually assumed to be mathematical) to characterize all phenomena in the universe. If mathematics cannot present an optimal solution then likely neither can physics.

Don

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Robert H McEachern replied on Jan. 1, 2018 @ 14:27 GMT
Phillip:

"The information that described the state of the universe is holographic, so it can be represented on a surface. This is the compressed form of the data. What we observe in the bulk volume is an uncompressed form with lots of redundancy in the form of gauge symmetry."

The information content of an emission, is not the same as the information content of the emitter that produced the emission. Every emission must travel through every spherical surface surrounding the emitter and with a radius less than the distance between the emitter and the receiver, if it is to ever be received in the first place. Thus, the entire information content of every long-range emission must be observable on those spherical surfaces. This is why the holographic principle exists, and why all long-range forces are inverse-square. It has nothing to do with the information content stored within the emitter or with data compression used to produce the emission. Assuming otherwise is a major misunderstanding of Shannon's Information Theory, within the physics community.

Rob McEachern

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John-Erik Persson wrote on Dec. 31, 2017 @ 17:56 GMT
Philip Gibbs

I thank you for this interesting article. I have been provoked in my thinking. We should, as you say, regard science as finding better, and better, approximations. You are also right when stating information as fundamental in the field of physics. It is dangerous to listen to only one guru, as you say.

Best regards ___________________ John-Erik Persson

Good luck.

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Jan. 3, 2018 @ 15:19 GMT
Yes, as we gather information our model of reality becomes a better approximation. Sometimes this can lead to a paradigm shift where the underling principles are suddenly very different even if the predicted measurements don't change by very much.

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John-Erik Persson replied on Jan. 11, 2018 @ 19:00 GMT
I agree

John-Erik

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Georgina Woodward wrote on Jan. 3, 2018 @ 10:39 GMT
Hi Philip, your essay is a pleasure to read and once I had started I was compelled to read to the end. Your ideas about story telling resonate with my own thinking about how we relate to the world. Especially via our senses and by imposing singular perspectives. I wonder why then at the end you say"’ If they don’t know then they must be prepared to consider different philosophical options, letting the mathematics guide the way until the experimental outlook improves." Why do you say mathematics must guide the way? Why not biology first? (To elucidate the effects of building from a literal human centered perspective or to seek and eliminate its effects.) Or why not all of the sciences leading together in a multidisciplinary effort? Well done, kind regards Georgina

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Jan. 3, 2018 @ 15:14 GMT
Hi Georgina, thanks for your interesting question. I do think that the human side of experience and evolution is relevant to the philosophical side of how we should understand our place in the universe. This came up more in the previous essay. However, I stop short of thinking that biology is in any way fundamental. I think that mathematics is the right place to look for fundamentalism, and is the more powerful tool for developing the harder side of the theory. Perhaps that is where our thinking diverges.

Nevertheless, there are grey areas in my thinking and I do hope that we get a few essays that argue the case for biology being fundamental, or that there is more to be learnt about foundations from biology. It seems like a more radical idea but perhaps my view can be pushed a little in that direction. we will see.

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John R. Cox replied on Jan. 8, 2018 @ 18:55 GMT
Philip and Georgina,

When it comes to "there is more to be learnt about foundations from biology.", I harken back to a day long ago when I was struck by the physical symmetry of the classic Platonic Solid, the Octahedron. It has a number of planar aspects we find replicated in chemical arrangements into molecules and interactions, and shares an internal angle with the narrow range of the Brewster Angle which polarizes light in a laser. And among the most primitive known viruses, are octahedral entities. I have ever since had a waking nightmare that science will someday discover 'the spark of life' in that symmetry, and a naturally occurring compounding of energy that animates even the simplest volume in seeking form. Not too far from many a primitive religious belief that all things are imbued with a 'spirit'. I doubt we as a species have the wisdom to know such things. We could become Borg! :-) jrc

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Nainan K. Varghese wrote on Jan. 9, 2018 @ 15:34 GMT
Thank you very much for the essay. Only real entities can act be acted upon. If various objects mentioned in your article (under different categories) are real, they would have objective reality and positive existence. These qualities can be provided only by their substance. Therefore, whichever entity provides substance to these real entities is more fundamental than any of them. You mentioned, “Our reality is what we experience”. Our senses and instruments also have limited capability. Entities, we do not sense or experience but have substance, are also real. Our inability to experience them would not make them unreal.

An entity, its parameters, its properties or its actions cannot be defined by its own products. Therefore, products of substance cannot define substance. Since we, ourself, are formed by fundamental substance, it is impossible for us to define substance, the most fundamental entity. Most logical candidate for substance of all real entities is ‘matter’.

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Jan. 11, 2018 @ 16:11 GMT
Nainan, What you say seems to make perfect sense.

I have your essay on my list to read.

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Hans van Leunen wrote on Jan. 10, 2018 @ 10:03 GMT
Philip,

Most stories about fundamental aspects of nature start at a fairly high level. In other words, the considered aspects are not at all fundamental. Still, reality appears to exhibit structure and that structure will be based on one or more foundations. The search for such foundation has been undertaken several times and not with much success. The reason is that physics took another route. It works by interpreting and precisely describing observations. At the same time, it mistrusts deduced statements. This attitude inhibits the exploration of existing foundations.

Garrett Birkhoff and John von Neumann most probably discovered one of the foundations of physical reality. This entry point was never seriously explored. See: The Incredible Story About the Reality; http://vixra.org/abs/1801.0033

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Jan. 11, 2018 @ 11:42 GMT
Hans. I agree that theorists have always looked at too high a level for fundamentals. This even goes back to Plato when he named the elements as earth, water, air and fire. We now realize how wrong that was because we have penetrated several levels of structure further down, and yet many physicists still think that elementary particles will be fundamental. I am saying that if it requires information to specify how it works then a theory can't be fundamental. there is still some way to go before we reach that point.

I will read your essay to better understand your point of view.

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Lawrence B. Crowell wrote on Jan. 11, 2018 @ 11:37 GMT
What is the difference between a necklace and a mouse? The mouse, or maybe it was moose, is a chain of Lie algebras. The vector spaces in the representations of these algebras form a sort of quiver. It would seem to me that in some setting if the group is a quotient H = G/K, then This algebra corresponds to a Hermitian symmetric space. An elementary example are the Grassmannian manifolds. This is an interesting development, where the local charts on the manifold are made of vectors that locally are a Lie group, and the atlas construction is a moose or what appears to be a necklace.

My essay have finally showed up. I can now vote and gave your essay a boost.

https://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/2981

LC

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Jan. 11, 2018 @ 14:22 GMT
Lawrence, I have not heard this mouse/moose terminology before. Is there a reference?

I am looking at your essay, but may take a few days to comment.

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Lawrence B. Crowell replied on Jan. 11, 2018 @ 23:18 GMT
There is this paper



Strings from Quivers, Membranes from Moose

Sunil Mukhi, Mukund Rangamani, Erik Verlinde

A moose sounds very similar to a necklace. Both are in effect chains of Lie algebras.

Cheers LC

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Jan. 13, 2018 @ 22:29 GMT
The "moose" seems to go back to Herman Georgi in 1986 as a tool for model building. I don't think its the same as necklace Lie algebras but can't rule out a connection.

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Wilhelmus de Wilde de Wilde wrote on Jan. 13, 2018 @ 15:44 GMT
Hi Philip,

It was a real pleasure to read your contribution to this contest.

The first half is like I could have written it myself, but each of us have a different way of explaining our perceptions.

The second half of your essay is a witness of your dedication to mathematics, but your end conclusion NOTHING IS EVERYTHING is the same as mine, only I add "INITIATIVE" as a property of Consciousness.

I hope you will also have some time to read and rate my essay : "Foundational Quantum Reality Loops.

Thank you for making me think again.

best regards

Wilhelmus

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Jan. 13, 2018 @ 20:23 GMT
I am glad to here we have some conclusions in common. I will put your essay on my list to read.

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Joe Fisher wrote on Jan. 13, 2018 @ 18:48 GMT
Dear Philip Gibbs,

You wrote: ““Fundamental” is an adjective to describe a level of reality that is not derived from anything else.” My research has concluded that reality does not have any finite levels. The real physical Universe consists only of one single unified VISIBLE infinite surface occurring eternally in one single dimension that am always illuminated mostly by finite non-surface light.

Joe Fisher, ORCID ID 0000-0003-3988-8687. Unaffiliated

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Jan. 13, 2018 @ 20:18 GMT
Joe, thanks for your comment. These competitions would not be same without you.

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Sue Lingo wrote on Jan. 13, 2018 @ 19:59 GMT
Hello Philip...



With regard to "guessing correctly the answer to questions like ‘what is “fundamental?’", the "stories" are ancient... REF: TOPIC Indra's Net - Holomorphic Fundamentalness by Cristinel Stoica ... and although such "stories" are prolific, multi-epoch, and multi-cultural, requirement for a logic reduction is a common element.

However, cognitive abilities...

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Jan. 13, 2018 @ 20:17 GMT
Thanks, I will read your essay. I have a lot to go through and want to give each one a good read but will get to it.

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Leo Vuyk wrote on Jan. 14, 2018 @ 10:33 GMT
Dear Phyllip, you wrote:

" Is fundamentality then a relative concept with no absolute bottom, or is there a fundament of physical law which is not derived from anything deeper?

The universe exists, so there must be answers. Why would those answers be incomprehensible to us?

"

I think:

Micro Black hole Pairing and Splitting should be explained first before we gain the next reality level.

See:

https://bigbang-entanglement.blogspot.nl/2018/01/b
lack-hole-pairing-and-splitting-should.html

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Jan. 15, 2018 @ 20:15 GMT
thank you Leo, that is very interesting. I will read your essay.

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Leo Vuyk wrote on Jan. 14, 2018 @ 10:39 GMT
sorry Philip,

better look at: https://bigbang-entanglement.blogspot.nl/

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Alan M. Kadin wrote on Jan. 15, 2018 @ 13:38 GMT
Dear Dr. Gibbs,

I enjoyed reading your well-written essay on the nature and speculative future of physics.

However, in my own essay “Fundamental Waves and the Reunification of Physics”, I argue that the universe is telling a quite different story. Unity and simplicity are most fundamental, although the unity of physics was broken in the early decades of the 20th century. I...

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Jan. 15, 2018 @ 20:18 GMT
I think it's always important to look at the opposing views too. Sometimes they turn out to be more compatible than you might expect.

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Domenico Oricchio wrote on Jan. 16, 2018 @ 15:25 GMT
It is an interesting essay.

If the foundation of the physics could be based on the path integral formulation, and because it is applicable to the some field of statistical mechanics, then I think that it could be write in each field of physics: for example in classical mechanics, if the possible transition is unique, using a Dirac delta function instead of probability amplitude, then the trajectory in the phase space could be unique (unification of the description).

Furthermore, there is a blog entry of John Baez on quantropy

https://johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/qua
ntropy-part-4/

that I consider interesting, because of the analogy between path integral and partition function.

Regards

Domenico

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Jan. 18, 2018 @ 21:22 GMT
I did my doctorate in lattice gauge theories where the analogy between quantum mechanics and statistical physics is exploited to do calculations. It is a powerful theoretical tool as well. Good luck with the contest.

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James Lee Hoover wrote on Jan. 18, 2018 @ 20:26 GMT
Thanks Philip,

Without the stories, there is no universe? I like the poem and the thoughts. I will have to get back to it. You provide a lot to think about as well. Mine has not yet reached an appearance. I do mention that the storyteller (the sentient creature) must be there to reveal the fundamental, kind of an existential philosophy, just like your stories suggest. You must be an advocate of supersymmetry: a symmetry between fermions and bosons. Do you believe it provides a dark matter candidate. Plan to reread your interesting essay as I progress. YOurs is my first read.

Jim Hoover

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Jan. 18, 2018 @ 21:18 GMT
James, you are very kind. I will look out for your essay.

To answer your question, supersymmetry at the TeV scale looked like a good theory before the LHC and dark matter searches. Now it does not look so good. It could still be right but it would have to be a different model from the ones theorists thought likely. It's chances are therefore very much diminished.

It's a funny thing that every known particle has R-parity of +1. R-parity is a quantum number combining known quantum numbers like spin and baryon number which appear to be conserved, so R-parity should be nearly conserved too. This means that the lightest particle with R-parity -1 would be very stable if it exists, making it an ideal dark matter candidate. Supersymmetry predicts particles with negative R-parity, but would such particles be a clear signature of supersymmetry? That is not so clear.

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James Lee Hoover replied on Jan. 19, 2018 @ 16:41 GMT
Philip,

How would you alter SUSY to make it more viable? Do you think the neutralino is not a good candidate for DM? I am looking at it in an essay I'm considering. You did mention that symmetry is fundamental and independent of specific dynamics? Is it then a guiding principle in search for unification theories?

You provide a lot of food for thought in your essay.

My essay appeared: https://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/3035.

Jim Hoover

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Anonymous replied on Jan. 22, 2018 @ 09:29 GMT
The phenomenologists have tried to look at a wide range of supersymmetry models but they have to make assumptions to simplify the parameter space. Without knowing how supersymmetry would be spontaneously broken it is impossible to know the right way to proceed. Some experimental observation would resolve it.

If a particle has spin half, but zero baryon and lepton number it will be stable, because there are no light particles for it to decay into without violating baryon or lepton number conservation. That is what is meant by R-partiy conservation. A neutralino is just an example of such a particle. Supersymmetry was promising because it had the potential to solve a few different problems in one go, but all those problems could be solved in different ways so it does not have to be right at LHC energies.

Some symmetries at least are fundamental. I think this is the case for the gauge symmetries and for particle interchange, and if I am right there must be other hidden symmetries that are fundamental. Using symmetry as a "guiding principle in the search for unification theories" was the central theme of 20th century physics, from relativity to the standard model. I think that will continue but first we would need to find how the unknown symmetries operate. A lot of theorists now think that symmetries are all emergent and cannot help us further. I can't see how that can be right.

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Jan. 19, 2018 @ 17:38 GMT
Good to see your essay is well-received so far Phil!..

This one looks very thought provoking so I've added it to my reading list. I just got mine in last night, and I wanted to get it right this time, so I've been making that effort my focus. It looks like an interesting field of authors and array of essay so far. But I know there are more than a few more entries that are waiting to post, besides my own. So I look forward to some great discussions.

All the Best,

Jonathan

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Jan. 21, 2018 @ 11:38 GMT
I cant believe we have already reached the submission deadline. It was a slow start but there is a good field now. Looking forward to seeing your essay.

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Jonathan J. Dickau replied on Jan. 22, 2018 @ 04:51 GMT
Thanks Phil,

I just finished reading yours for the first time, and I comment below. I just now got a preview too, of an upcoming entry from Brian Josephson (whom I met at FFP15), and I commented to him that with your entry being on "A Universe Made of Stories" his should fit right in. So yes; I think it will be an interesting field once the remaining essays have all posted.

All the Best,

Jonathan

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Peter Jackson wrote on Jan. 19, 2018 @ 20:17 GMT
Phillip,

Interesting and also slightly provocative approach. Just what we need! I think your level of 'speculation' is spot on for this format. Beautifully clear and intelligible too.

As for content, a few things raised questions, perhaps mainly this;

We know that certain polarizer interactions rotate and can even reverse polarisation (inc. phase shifts from half wave plates etc.) and that changing polarizer/modulator 'angles' changes the fermion ('free surface electron') polar spin angle/direction. Does that mean you suggest Huygens is incorrect in that 'requantization' a occurs at each such interaction - so complete 'invariance' would seem tricky?

(I'm thinking perhaps 'collapse' may also be 're-birth' of the new wavefunction?)

x,y,z assymmetries may then also be essential on orthogonal measurements!?

I'd be interested in your thoughts.

With your QM background I also hope you'll study mine carefully (read alongside Declan's who references my work) as I can't see how the ontological sequence doesn't now fully reproduce the predictions (& findings) of QM, including so called 'non-locality' and the (Born/Malus) squaring of Cos. It does need a fresh way of looking (as Bell suggested) as well as familiarity with the original, but I think you're capable of that. I look forward to any questions.

Well done for yours. I don't doubt we may end up nearby, and that we're both above downmarking neighbours (I've already had the odd 1!)

Very best

Peter

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Jan. 20, 2018 @ 14:28 GMT
Peter,

I admit a very simple and conventional interpretation of quantum mechanics, but I may be able to give a better answer to your questions after I have read your essay to put them in context.

On the subject of scoring, yes I had a 1 already but I am not concerned about it. What I like to see is lots of good comments and lots of ratings. This shows interest and understanding of what I have written. I don't expect everyone to like it. Sometimes people low score everyone without understanding, but those even out and are not worth worrying about. Winning is not so important to me that I would vote tactically or bother about other people doing so.

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Francesco D'Isa wrote on Jan. 20, 2018 @ 08:09 GMT
A very interesting essay, thank you for sharing.

"No information about the universe, to know nothing about its laws or its history? It would simply mean that all logically consistent possibilities are still options. With no information the universe is the sum of all possible histories, described by all possible laws of physics. In terms of information “Nothing” means “everything.”"

I couldn't agree more; my text as well touches similar arguments from a philosophical point of view. Sadly I've not the mathematical tools to fully comprehend the rest of your proposal.

Bests,

Francesco D'Isa

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Flavio Del Santo wrote on Jan. 20, 2018 @ 18:40 GMT
Dear Philip,

Thanks for this original, thorough and well argued essay.

Thank you for pointing out some long overdue problems with the intuitive reductionist approach. I am glad that you point out, for instance, that “the hypothesis has been further bolstered by the observation that the laws of particles physics are unnaturally fine-tuned”. I follow a falsificationist approach, namely a deductivist methodology in science that allows (in your words) “mathematics [to] guide the way until the experimental outlook improves”.

So, I think that there are pretty interesting similarities between our essays, and I would be most grateful to have your opinion about my work.

Your idea that “Reality is relative to the observer” is indeed one of the most promising directions of investigation in the modern foundations of physics. I find a particular affinity with a recent proposal by Brukner that there are “no facts of the world per se, but only relative to an observer” (If you havent seen this yet, please see https://arxiv.org/abs/1507.05255).

I definitely rate you high.

I wish you the best of luck, and I hope to hear from you soon for a discussion.

Best wishes,

Flavio

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Feb. 11, 2018 @ 16:08 GMT
Flavio, thanks for your comment. I agree that we have some similarities, but in some ways this makes the differences more interesting.

Ultimately I reject reductionism, but not in the same way as you. I think that reductionism will continue to work until we arrive at a final level where everything is possible and the whole theory is described with zero information. We will realise that actually nothing can therefore be derived from the final theory of everything and we will be forced to look back through the levels of reduction and ask ourselves where the real information about the world and how it works entered into the equations. What we will realise is that at every stage there is some extra information added when we go back up. Physicists would consider this information irrelevant until they reach the end when they will finally understand that it was all there was left.

For example, space-time and the particle spectrum of the standard model emerge from some deeper theory. but it is likely that it will do so only with the arbitrary choice of one vacuum state out of many possibilities. That choice is then a source of information that has been disregarded. To give a better known example, biology reduces to chemistry but it also depends on the choice of environment and the accidental processes of evolution. These things add new information in addition to the theory of chemistry in order to give us biology. My view is that in the end we will realise that it is this added information that gives us everything, not the final theory that everything reduces to.

You also reject reductionism, but the question is to what extend is your view consistent with or conflicting with mine. I have been reading your essay which is very good, but I will post my critique in your forum when I am done.

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Jan. 22, 2018 @ 04:42 GMT
I think this essay is very interesting...

I'll have to read it a couple of times Phil, because you give me a lot to think about. I am reminded of, or informed by, a paper of Steven K. Kauffmann on "Getting path integrals physically and technically right," which argued for the less known Hamiltonian formulation of the sum over histories method.

This approach favors events over objects, while the conventional Lagrangian form assumes the kinematic nature of particles or other entities. One might consider that to be more physically-realistic, but the Hamiltonian form automatically incorporates uncertainty.

More later,

Jonathan

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Jan. 24, 2018 @ 08:23 GMT
Good to see your essay is up, but I am away for next few days.

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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Jan. 22, 2018 @ 14:31 GMT
Hi Philip Gibbs

“Atoms are more fundamental than the laws of thermodynamics, but atomic physics in turn is derived from the interactions of more primitive components. Is fundamentality then a relative concept with no absolute bottom”…..….. very nice idea…. Dear Philip Gibbs… I highly appreciate your essay and hope for reciprocity.

I request you please spend some of the...

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Hans van Leunen wrote on Jan. 22, 2018 @ 16:09 GMT
In the approaches in this contest, I miss the efforts of Garrett Birkhoff and John von Neumann to establish a fundament that emerges into a suitable modeling platform. In their 1936 paper, they introduced a relational structure that they called quantum logic and that mathematicians call an orthomodular lattice. It automatically emerges into a separable Hilbert space, which also introduces a...

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Ajay Pokhrel wrote on Jan. 26, 2018 @ 02:42 GMT
Hello Philip,

Well written essay.

I really like the way you interpreted the question and your essay is a unique essay among here.

I find some similarities between our essay; we both have not focused only on one topic but tend to discuss other topics as well, and the conclusion is also inspiring. I liked that you focused on symmetry which is also a mathematical term. I have also interpreted symmetry on my essay which focuses on mathematics and pattern being fundamental.

Kind Regards

Ajay Pokharel

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Joe Fisher wrote on Jan. 28, 2018 @ 16:39 GMT
Dear Fellow Essayists

This will be my final plea for fair treatment.,

Reliable evidence exists that proves that the surface of the earth was formed millions of years before man and his utterly complex finite informational systems ever appeared on that surface. It logically follows that Nature must have permanently devised the only single physical construct of earth allowable.

All objects, be they solid, liquid, or vaporous have always had a visible surface. This is because the real Universe consists only of one single unified VISIBLE infinite surface occurring eternally in one single infinite dimension that am always illuminated mostly by finite non-surface light.

Only the truth can set you free.

Joe Fisher, Realist

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Ajay Pokhrel wrote on Jan. 29, 2018 @ 03:27 GMT
Hello Gibbs,

A very well written essay. I enjoyed your essay a lot; though some parts were out of my qualification, I tend to understand your essay carefully.

Believe me or not, but both of our essays have the same way of literature. You choose one topic and defend whether it could be fundamental by providing facts and logic which is same as I do in my my essay.

In fact, some of our lines coincide; like this particular one:

"Philosophers of physics discuss the emergence of the universe from nothing, but what is nothing?" where you define nothing as everything, while I define it in terms of mathematics, as zero (0)

I liked this line which gives a sense of motivation "Particle physicists should not give up on the hierarchy problem in particle physics just because they think they have tried everything." I have also used a sense of inspiration at the end of my essay.

At last, you conclude that mathematics and physics are required to solve the problems and it is indeed true which is reflected in my essay as well.

Anyway, I enjoyed your essay and wish you a great luck in the competition.

Kind Regards

Ajay Pokharel

It just requires mathematicians and physicists to bring their knowledge together.

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Jan. 29, 2018 @ 13:06 GMT
Thank you for your comments.

I will read your essay later to see how how it may be related.

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Brian D. Josephson wrote on Jan. 31, 2018 @ 17:36 GMT
Dear Philip,

I've only just got round to reading your essay which Jonathan had recommended to me. We do have a similar philosophy, but you have gone into the maths a lot which I have not as yet. I have two comments. Firstly, when I was a post-doc at the Univ. of Illinois working with Kadanoff on critical phenomena, Kadanoff was just developing his recursive view of critical points,...

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Feb. 1, 2018 @ 11:21 GMT
Dear Brian, thank you for reading my essay and for the comment, thanks also to Jonathan for the recommendation.

I have watched your video and do see some convergence of ideas. The iterative cycles and normalization group are very important. Jonathan has this in his Mandlebrot theory too. These ideas come up in different places and different related forms because they are universal....

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Ulla Marianne Mattfolk wrote on Feb. 1, 2018 @ 17:43 GMT
Hi, Philip.

You describe the particle zoo like it would be the result of an observer situated in an old universe.... the only thing surviving would then be the information, or guidings... it is a very cool view. Maybe we can link it to the black hole and its informational paradox, and a way to see on information?

"If so, then the physics probed in particle colliders is barely more fundamental in kind than the workings of biology that evolved from the initial chemical accidents of abiogenesis." Yes, it is how I started to Think, or was FORCED to Think, rather, when comparing to biology.

I also started to look at general relativity like this. https://www.amazon.com/Meaning-Relativity-Including-Relativi
stic-Non-Symmetric/dp/0691120277/ref=reader_auth_dp

A non-symmetric field? We are so used to look at the symmetry and see gravitation as 'the distorter' but can it be the other way? It is Worth pondering. Can then gravitation 'survive' from one epoch to Another, and carry the information with it?

Can a process be the fundamental thing, not particles? Processes are described by constants, couplings, interferences, liftings, in one Word - complexity, but that requires and open system, and asymmetry. See my essay.

It is an interesting journey to try to gain general relativity and quantum mechanics through analyzing BIOLOGY :) Sounds odd? Yes, it is strange, but well Worth the effort.

https://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/3093 my essay :)

Enjoying Reading this, thanks.

Ulla Mattfolk.

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Feb. 10, 2018 @ 13:57 GMT
If we could derive physics from biology that would be truly something. I don't think I am ready for that yet, but the connection between biology and physics via information is something I can work with.

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Flavio Del Santo wrote on Feb. 3, 2018 @ 21:35 GMT
Dear Philip,

Thanks for this original, thorough and well argued essay.

Thank you for pointing out some long overdue problems with the intuitive reductionist approach. I am glad that you point out, for instance, that “the hypothesis has been further bolstered by the observation that the laws of particles physics are unnaturally fine-tuned”. I follow a falsificationist approach, namely a deductivist methodology in science that allows (in your words) “mathematics [to] guide the way until the experimental outlook improves”.

So, I think that there are pretty interesting similarities between our essays, and I would be most grateful to have your opinion about my work.

Your idea that “Reality is relative to the observer” is indeed one of the most promising directions of investigation in the modern foundations of physics. I find a particular affinity with a recent proposal by Brukner that there are “no facts of the world per se, but only relative to an observer” (If you havent seen this yet, please see https://arxiv.org/abs/1507.05255).

I definitely rate you high.

I wish you the best of luck, and I hope to hear from you soon for a discussion.

Best wishes,

Flavio

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Wilhelmus de Wilde de Wilde wrote on Feb. 5, 2018 @ 18:41 GMT
Dear Philip,

Thank you for reading and commenting my essay.

Your question “Symmetry of space and time means that the laws of physics are unchanging over space and time. If that were not the case it would be hard to do science. Does this mean that symmetry must be fundamental? ” is linked to the approach you have in your essay.

“symmetry is agebraic” you say, so it is part of a “language” that is an intermediate between thinking and reality (both emerging phenomena). In my approach fine-tuning is an essential result of the Reality Loop the agent is part of. (if its was not fine-tuned the agent would be a different agent in a different reality loop. One of the languages agents are using to explain this fine-tuned reality is emerging algebra (symmetry).

You argue “I expect to find this symmetry in a pre-geometric meta-law that transcends spacetime,taking a purely algebraic form, only beyond that point will it be emergent, rising from immutable relationships between systems of information.” Indeed in this approach symmetry transcends space-time because space and time are (dimensional) restrictions (emerging from total simultaneity), and algebra/symmetry/thinking are not limited by these restrictions because they are the “cause” through consciousness of reality. The what you are calling “immutable relationships between systems of information” is maybe too strictly bound to our emerging reality. My approach places the “rising” outside our reality, so even more foundational.

“If those leaders say that symmetry is unimportant because it is emergent or that geometry is more fundamental than algebra, other possibilities may be neglected.”

Fully agreed, every emerging phenomenon is essential in a specific reality. Geometry is a description methodology, to be compared to filling in data in a computer, it is the software (thinking) that is concluding.

Best regards Philip nd good luck in the contest.

Wilhelmus

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Feb. 5, 2018 @ 18:51 GMT
Thanks for the interesting answer and good luck in the contest.

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Wilhelmus de Wilde de Wilde replied on Feb. 6, 2018 @ 10:19 GMT
Thank you Philip,

I am not a schooled mathematicien like you are.

So I wonder if the "model" I approached might be valuable.

It is of course only one of the many that exist, but the human intelligence

is at this joint of time just a like a baby, we are all struggling with finding the

foundational essence of our reality, we see the rattle above our craddle, we reach out but still cannot touch it....(this contest is an exellent example of this reaching out...)

I rated you already on january 13, and hope that you will find my approach also good enough for a valuation.

thank you

Wilhelmus

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Brian D. Josephson wrote on Feb. 5, 2018 @ 19:37 GMT
Biology doesn't demand exact laws

Firstly, I agree that recursion is important in physics. But inexactness has a role to play in the natural world as well. To quote from my own essay (in note 4): "In the context of technology, high precision may sometimes be necessary to achieve particular aims, necessitating the use of special methodologies. Biological systems can survive without such high precision, but a degree of constraint is necessary nevertheless. While precision has its value in the biological context, high levels of precision may not be necessary for survival.". However, mathematical properties may emerge in the limit through recursion, and the ones that prevail are the ones that are significant from the viewpoint of 'good design', since favourable consequences make it more possible for nature to loop back (consider for example the way languages tend to use words only to the degree that they have a role to play in the activities of a community). Investigation of the reciprocality between maths and biology is the main aim of the IBIOSA project (see http://inbiosa.eu/).

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Feb. 9, 2018 @ 17:19 GMT
I can easily accept that inexact laws have some significance. This is fine when we are in the realm of complexity theory and emergence. I think I come in at the high end of the scale when it comes to emergence. My default for anything would be that it is emergent at some level, all the way down to nothing.

I am also well strapped into the bandwagon that says information is fundamental. Information is a robust concept and it is important in biology as it is in physics, so the inexactness of biological systems could connect to physics through information processes.

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Brian D. Josephson replied on Feb. 9, 2018 @ 21:31 GMT
I think your 'principle of universality through recursion' provides a mechanism whereby exactness can emerge, as your
example demonstrates.

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adel sadeq wrote on Feb. 5, 2018 @ 23:28 GMT
Dear Philip,

One again that time of year to bug you:) If you had seen my essay you can strike what I am about to say. Otherwise I am going to save you the trouble right here. based on the conversation you had with Dickau. I say

"The system can use both Real and Integer numbers, and in both systems you always get finite answer no matter how high your energy goes as when...

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adel sadeq replied on Feb. 5, 2018 @ 23:35 GMT
Sorry, FQXI's editor ate the formatting and some letters:(

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Feb. 8, 2018 @ 16:37 GMT
Thanks for your comment. i will have a look at your essay.

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adel sadeq replied on Feb. 8, 2018 @ 20:39 GMT
Hi Philip,

Thank you very much for your comment. I agree with Tegmark that All mathematical structures (circles, triangles ....etc) exist in what is dubbed as PLATONIC. However I think we must find the *correct structure* that represents our reality with all of its details (like I have proposed) before dabbling in Multiverse types( his four levels) which are connected to premature...

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Heinrich Päs wrote on Feb. 7, 2018 @ 19:01 GMT
Dear Philipp,

very nice and thought-inspiring essay. I was wondering whether by arguing stories are fundamental you believe that information is fundamental. As I'm arguing in my essay information usually has some perspectival elements to it and - as far as we now - needs a medium or information carrier. My stance would be that this medium is more fundamental at least than the information dependent on perspective. You seem to argue that such a medium is equivalent to „nothing“ and actually I also consider this possibility. I would argue though that this would be only correct if „physically possible“ would be equivalent to „logically possible“. While this might be the case I believe we can`t take this for granted.

Anyway, a very nice read! Heinrich

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Feb. 8, 2018 @ 16:29 GMT
Numbers are always used to count things or measure them, yet in mathematics we can study the properties of numbers in their own right without reference to what is being counted or measured. This is abstraction.

Information also needs a carrier and it needs to be about something, but it has its own generic properties independently of these. The same information can be transmitted by radio waves or stored in a disk. We don't have to take that into account if we are computing the entropy of a bit stream.

I am not saying that you are wrong about the medium being more fundamental. I am just saying that because of abstraction it does not have to be.

Another interesting question is whether information can have meaning without some way of interpreting it. A compressed bitstream appears random and is impossible to extract meaning from, but uncompressed data may eb able to convey a message without an interpreter. Remember the film "Contact" where they picked up an alien communication that started with prime numbers and then moved on to other forms of information that could be understood. If the information was about pure mathematics that could even work across universes if there were some way of transferring bit streams between them. The key to making sense is to use redundancy and universal concepts like prime numbers that inevitably arise in the mind of any mathematician no matter what form of being they are.

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Andrew Beckwith wrote on Feb. 7, 2018 @ 21:49 GMT
quote

Every possibility is assigned a probability. These are derived from the squared norm of a component

in a wave function. Observables become operators, states become vectors, sets become functions,

objects become morphisms. In physics we call this process “quantisation.” It is closely related to the

mathematical notions of exponentiation, abstraction and categorification. Even probabilities

themselves may be uncertain, so they too are given a probability distribution. The process can be

repeated to give us iterated quantisation, higher abstractions and n-categories. To understand the

origins of physics we must define this recursion more precisely in algebraic terms and see how the

physics of space, time and particles can emerge from it with specific features of our universe

understood as processes of information collection. The fundamental laws of the universe are then

uniquely determined by invariance under quantisation [4]

end of quote

Very interesting point. What I tried to do was to find , using Klauders enhanced quantization, a way to bound the behavior of classical physics, via a quantum analogue, as to the emergence of of the cosmological constant.

My essay is of December 21st. As a favor to me, could you critique my essay as given in FQXI, in terms of your above mentioned procedure?

Thanks

Andrew

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Feb. 8, 2018 @ 16:05 GMT
Thanks for you comment. I already read your essay and made one comment, but hopefully I will find time to give it another read in the context of your comment and perhaps say more.

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Heinrich Luediger wrote on Feb. 8, 2018 @ 11:50 GMT
Dear Philip,

some water into the wine of positive comments. In the following quote: “I expect to find this symmetry in a pre-geometric meta-law that transcends spacetime,taking a purely algebraic form, only beyond that point will it be emergent, rising from immutable relationships between systems of information” there feature at least six to eight terms that either are entirely undefined (e.g. pre-geometric meta-law) or at least have multiple, varied and even opposing meanings. I have roughly ‘calculated’ the number of possible meanings of just this sentence to be of the order of millions. The number of possible meanings of your essay is of course magnitudes bigger.

So, your essay appears to me much like a box full up with words marketed as a novel.

Hence your conclusion: "From there [the above] our understanding returns full circle to the nature of our experience and our personal life stories" reads something like: believe me that no less than six angles can dance on the top of a pin.

Heinrich

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Feb. 8, 2018 @ 16:01 GMT
Many theorists agree that space-time geometry could be emerge from something else. That structure is often therefore described as "pregeometric." I.e. It is a common generic term in physics used to describe any hypothetical theory in which space and time is emergent. Wikipedia is always a good place to turn to when you don't understand a term and in this case it gives several good examples of...

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Heinrich Luediger replied on Feb. 9, 2018 @ 10:10 GMT
Dear Philip,

thanks for answering a not so positive comment! The fact that a term is accepted in, say, physics does not imply that it has meaning. The ‘multiverse’ is such an example, because it is not hypothetical but merely speculative. My point was to say that a compound of meaning-less or very vague notions is not well suited to argue anything.

In addition, by the very well defined meaning of the word ‘transcendence’ one points to a domain about the form and operations of which nothing can be known in principle. Your ‘transcendence’, however, mediates between two domains of which you claim to have or hope to gain knowledge. So, the use of ‘transcendence’ WITHIN physics is an oxymoron.

Heinrich

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Brian D. Josephson replied on Feb. 9, 2018 @ 10:25 GMT
Something being 'speculative' doesn't mean that is has no meaning: one may for example speculate that someone is late because he has been held up by traffic, and it is perfectly clear what the meaning is. In regard to terms such as emergent or multiverse one has to turn to the literature to discover what precise meanings have been assigned to the term concerned, it is not a matter of there being an absolute meaning as there is for example in the case of multiplication of integers.

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Vladimir Rogozhin wrote on Feb. 8, 2018 @ 19:15 GMT
Dear Philip,

You give very deep ontological ideas in the spirit of Cartesian doubt. I believe that this is the right way to overcome the crisis of understanding in the foundations of knowledge. I invite you to see my ideas of ontological с, where the "logos" - "metalaw" creates from the matter another alternative model of Ideality.

All the best,

Vladimir

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Flavio Del Santo wrote on Feb. 9, 2018 @ 21:40 GMT
Dear Philip,

I have written to you already several days ago, but you must have lost my comments among the many ones you received. I report the main points here again, because I would like to have a confrontation between our ideas, that seem to show some similarities (you find my essay here https://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/3017):

Thank you for pointing out some long overdue problems with the intuitive reductionist approach. I am glad that you point out, for instance, that “the hypothesis has been further bolstered by the observation that the laws of particles physics are unnaturally fine-tuned”. I follow a falsificationist approach, namely a deductivist methodology in science that allows (in your words) “mathematics [to] guide the way until the experimental outlook improves”.

Your idea that “Reality is relative to the observer” is indeed one of the most promising directions of investigation in the modern foundations of physics. I find a particular affinity with a recent proposal by Brukner that there are “no facts of the world per se, but only relative to an observer” (If you havent seen this yet, please see https://arxiv.org/abs/1507.05255).

Best ratings.

Best wishes,

Flavio

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Feb. 10, 2018 @ 10:54 GMT
Apologies for the delay. I am working my way through stuff.

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Lee Bloomquist wrote on Feb. 10, 2018 @ 06:44 GMT
Philip, here is a story about Witten and Wheeler

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Brian D. Josephson replied on Feb. 10, 2018 @ 09:09 GMT
The late (and great) Michael Conrad also brought up the idea of representing ideas in computer language (he favoured LISP on account of its simplicity). But I believe he may have also suggested that not everything can be put into such forms.

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Feb. 10, 2018 @ 10:19 GMT
Information does not always come in discrete bits. If I tell you that the last digit of an unbiased number is not a seven, how many bits of information have I given you? However, quantisation in physics does seem to have discretised the information spectrum.

It is interesting that Witten admits that he does not have much talent for philosophy. That may have been limiting for him, although it seems silly to speak of Witten's work as limited. I think he is typical of many physicists in that regard. Some physicists are able to do more with philosophy, e.g. Einstein, Wheeler and more recently Arkani-Hamed. I think they are the exceptions which is one reason why so few physicists enter this contest.

The interesting thing about computability is that it has universality. There is not an obvious best computer language for defining computability but any choices you try can be shown to be equivalent by writing a simulator of each language in the other. I learnt this from John H Conway at his Cambridge logic course in 1980. He went to great lengths to show that a Minsky Machine is equivalent to a Turing Machine in fine detail. Universality comes in other forms, some more closely related to physics, but it may be this lesson that makes me think so much about the philosophical side of its significance. It may also be interesting to think about how uncertainty and imprecision relate to universality.

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Member Noson S. Yanofsky wrote on Feb. 11, 2018 @ 11:43 GMT
Dear Philip Gibbs,

Thank you for an essay with a lot of ideas. While I was intrigued by the whole essay, I was wondering if you can elaborate on one point. You write "The assimilation of information is an algebraic process of factorisation and morphisms." What do you mean by that? I look forward to your response.

Thank you again for an interesting essay.

If you have a chance, please take a look at my essay.

All the best,

Noson Yanofsky

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Feb. 12, 2018 @ 16:41 GMT
Thank you for this question. Since you are a mathematician you will understand the basic idea here. I have said that I think the universe must have "complete symmetry", meaning that there should be one degree of symmetry corresponding to every physical degree of freedom. I believe this may be the only way to explain the holographic principle to resolve the information loss paradox for black holes....

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Feb. 12, 2018 @ 00:55 GMT
Hi Phil,

I enjoyed your essay immensely. At one point you suggest that "quantization as a sum over histories is more fundamental than particles or field or even time and space." What is history without time or path without space? You then ask if there is a fundamental law which is not derived from anything deeper? Yes, if we assume that a law governs something, there must exist...

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Feb. 13, 2018 @ 17:27 GMT
Edwin,

Thank you for reading my essay and thinking about it in so much detail. Your participation in this contest through your essay and your engagement with other authors is exemplary.

The following is how I see things, if it differs from your view I may be wrong :-)

I agree that a lattice is not a good pregeometry. Matrix models are much more interesting, but I expect some...

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Edwin Eugene Klingman replied on Feb. 13, 2018 @ 21:41 GMT
Dear Phil,

Thanks for your response. We agree on so much. Not to beat a dead horse, but local energy is ubiquitous. Information requires structure and context/decoding. Description is secondary (in my opinion), not fundamental. It requires a 'model' or image of whatever is fundamental.

You find matrix models more interesting, but didn't the Heisenberg/Schrödinger equivalence show they are different perspectives on the same thing?

I agree that there is no fundamental structure from which everything else emerges. The continuum is not a 'structure' (I don't think.) I certainly agree that "it is important to avoid the statement that mathematical structures are the fundamental elements of nature." I formulated my comment as an attempt to address your specific requirements. The self-interaction equation does lead to momentum, spin, and charge (given the appropriate physical assumptions to interpret the math.) I don't think either energy or time emerges from the equation, but are inherent to the primordial field "described" by the equation. I think energy and time are dual and have no separate existence or meaning.

I'm glad you find the Platonic realm the wrong philosophy. I used to think you were a Platonist. I asked the "history without time?" question to see how you would answer. I expected your answer and I agree with it. We're getting closer in our old age.

Your comments and replies to people are a model for how this contest should operate. You have a very generous nature (probably accounts for viXra.)

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Edwin Eugene Klingman replied on Feb. 25, 2018 @ 22:11 GMT
Dear Phil,

On another's page, you said, "I like simulation myself, and I'm always interested to learn what other people have tried."

Based on this I am providing the link to a Bell's theorem simulation (on viXra) that is fully non-local [ A and B never appear together locally, except at birth] and uses Bell's discrete variables +1 and -1 to show that his theorem is not violated. I then use continuous variables, representing the actual Stern-Gerlach data and show that Bell's "impossible to achieve" correlation is achieved.

Cristi Stoica and I discussed the physics of this on his page [also copied to my page.]

The non-local simulation model is shown on page 5 and the discrete and continuous variable results are shown on page 6. The figures represent 10,000 random spins and SG-orientations.

In another simulation, Modern Classical Spin Dynamics, based on the same model of spin, I generate ~10,000 spins passing through an inhomogeneous magnetic field, and show that this exactly overlays the actual SG data [fig 6 on page 20].

A lot can be learned from simulations. If you have any that you have done, I would be interested in a link.

Finally, you are busy with responding to others as this contest closes, so you need not bother responding to this comment. It is FYI.

My best regards,

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Avtar Singh wrote on Feb. 12, 2018 @ 17:14 GMT
Dear Philip:

Your statement - "Time comes into it. Say it. Say it. The universe is made of stories,not of atoms." is vindicated by my paper –“What is Fundamental – Is C the Speed of Light” that describes the fundamental physics of antigravity missing from the widely-accepted mainstream physics and cosmology theories resolving their current inconsistencies and paradoxes. The missing physics shows that Big Bang is just a story and depicts a new spontaneous relativistic mass creation/dilation photon model that explains the yet unknown dark energy, inner workings of quantum mechanics, and bridges the gaps among relativity and Maxwell’s theories. The model also provides field equations governing the spontaneous wave-particle complimentarity or mass-energy equivalence. The key significance or contribution of the proposed work is to enhance fundamental understanding of C, commonly known as the speed of light, and Cosmological Constant, commonly known as the dark energy.

The manuscript not only provides comparisons against existing empirical observations but also forwards testable predictions for future falsification of the proposed model.

I would like to invite you to read my paper and appreciate any feedback comments.

Best Regards

Avtar Singh

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Don Limuti wrote on Feb. 13, 2018 @ 06:38 GMT
Hi Philip,

I like your open and expansive compilation of ideas on what is fundamental. A Universe Made of Stories resonates with me.

I made an essay that explains "the speed of darkness". Take a look and let me know what you think. You may want to add it to your collection of "fundamentals".

Thanks for introducing me to Muriel Rukeyser,

Don Limuti

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Eckard Blumschein wrote on Feb. 15, 2018 @ 05:11 GMT
Dear Philip Gibbs,

Admittedly I mistook you for a while. With stories you meant histories, not levels, and the thoughtless use of "made" doesn't necessarily imply a creation.

The universe (in the sense of everything) consists of histories. Well, this was Shannon's and is my most fundamental point too. Therefore I rate your essay high.

Nonetheless I would like you to respect arguments that fundamentally differ from what you correctly called your "speculative view":

Shannon didn't speak of "past, present and future". As did he, I too exclude the fuzzy middle "present" between past and future.

You wrote: "Reality is relative to the observer." Doesn't already this differ from Shannon's opinion that in the assumed reality, the past is unchangeable?

Isaac Newton was born in the year when Galileo Galilei's live got history, independent from chosen point of view.

While I respect your almost mandatory view concerning symmetries, I can also not hide my suspicions concerning this topic.

Eckard Blumschein

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Member Marc Séguin wrote on Feb. 17, 2018 @ 19:26 GMT
Dear Philip,

Once again, you deliver a great essay. You start with one of my favorite quotes, “The universe is made of stories, not of atoms”, so how could it be not great? ;)

Since we share very similar views on many things, I agree on a lot of what you said:

- Fundamental physics is barely more fundamental than the workings of biology, since our stable vacuum is only one...

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Feb. 18, 2018 @ 12:22 GMT
I'm glad you like the Ruykeyser quote. I first used it 20 years ago to express some of these ideas and it seemed to fit for this contest.

It is not surprising that you like many of my ideas. I nicked a few of them from you!

I am with you on the rematch idea. As soon as the discussion starts and the questions come in I am reminded of all the things I should have included to make the ideas clearer. This is why the discussion is so important. As you know the winners are encouraged to expand their essay for the compendium publication but that is not seen by everyone.

The ideas in the more technical section are not as difficult as they appear. The problem is just my inability to explain them in few words.

As always the best solution would be to write a longer paper, and there is always the next contest.

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Eckard Blumschein replied on Feb. 18, 2018 @ 14:28 GMT
"Ultimate fundamentality shouldn’t be in any way accidental or arbitrary."

In physics, the commonly agreed reference t=0 is an arbitrary choice.

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Armin Nikkhah Shirazi wrote on Feb. 19, 2018 @ 22:32 GMT
Dear Phil,

You have a gift for expressing your ideas in a thoroughly engaging way, so that even if I may not agree with some of them, it causes me to consider them again.

A few comments;

1. The metaphor of stories as the building block of the universe is striking. I genuinely wonder why no one seems to have thought of it before.

2. Beginning at the bottom of page 3, you...

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Feb. 21, 2018 @ 11:35 GMT
Thanks for your feedback,#

If you like the "nothing = everything" idea you should read the essays of Marc Séguin. I was inspired by his contributions in a previous contest. Perhaps he also expresses it better than I do avoiding the misinterpretation you point out.

Hopefully I will have time to read your essay in the last few days.

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Wayne R Lundberg wrote on Feb. 20, 2018 @ 02:12 GMT
Dear Phillip,

You have quite an inquiring mind and put forth an oblique argument for ".. tensor product .. mapping T(V) ⊗ T(V) → T(V)" to replace SU(3)xU(2)xU(1) of the standard model. Of course such a group involves a set of particle which could (and certainly should!) be compared to those which we know to exist from collider experimental observation.

While you consider that step, you might also want to note that a subgroup of a cross product of two wreath products works well to replicate QC/ED particles and interactions. Perhaps you'd like to exercise your group theoretic skills and better describe the correctly symmetry-broken "subgroup"? I have a lot of notes on the subject ...

Anyway, your inquisitive essay seems to have wandered closest to a new insight as above. I am glad you wrote and hope your inquiries turn to more productive questions...!

Wayne

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Feb. 21, 2018 @ 11:29 GMT
Wayne, thanks for your comment.

I think the passage from the algebraic meta-laws I describe to the standard model at low energy will require some arbitrary choices from a landscape of possibilities. Because this happens at very high energy we will need some new experimental input to get the details. This could come from a new collider, proton decay, inflation, dark energy observation or something else. Unless experimenter's luck changes this will not happen tomorrow. Nevertheless I think there is a lot of exciting theoretical work that can be done in the near term, and of course I could turn out to be wrong about the landscape.

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Wayne R Lundberg replied on Feb. 25, 2018 @ 15:33 GMT
Philip,

The well-founded approach I use, and the algebraic group, replicate QC/ED quite well... no need for exploring an unknown 'landscape'.

{I found the band-like solution at the conformal boundary of the string theory landscape! ;}

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corciovei silviu wrote on Feb. 21, 2018 @ 18:21 GMT
Very nicely written, MR. Gibss!

Read and rate it.

Further comments are useless.

If you do have the time and pleasure for another essay, you can check this one

Respectfully,

Silviu

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George Kirakosyan wrote on Feb. 22, 2018 @ 05:56 GMT
Dear Philip

You are just a nice master-writer in first, and also truly thinking man! I felt it is my duty always support you. Be well!

Best Regards

George Kirakosyan

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Vladimir Nikolaevich Fedorov wrote on Feb. 22, 2018 @ 06:04 GMT
Dear Philip,

I highly appreciate your beautifully written essay.

Your essay allowed to consider us like-minded people.

I agree with you. «We know that some physical phenomena can be derived from a more basic substratum». «Heat is a manifestation of the kinetic energy of atoms».

«Fundamental laws are not in any way accidental or arbitrary».

I hope that my modest achievements can be information for reflection for you.

Vladimir Fedorov

https://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/3080

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Brian D. Josephson wrote on Feb. 22, 2018 @ 09:47 GMT
Stories and Mechanisms

In the comments section of my own essay I have made the point that it may be helpful to adjoin to your 'stories' concept the idea of mechanism, as stories are underpinned by mechanisms (e.g. the use of FM signals involves complicated mechanisms to make it work) while mechanisms also have explanations involving what might be called stories. This just makes everything a bit more explicit. From this perspective, in regard to symmetry one might argue that this has its own mechanisms, a nice example being the creation of spherical mirrors by a grinding process which translates spatial symmetry into the symmetry of the mirror. Then I guess symmetry has its utility in the grand scheme of things, e.g. wheels work better if they are round!

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Thomas Howard Ray wrote on Feb. 22, 2018 @ 14:34 GMT
Phil,

I am reminded of a poem I wrote for a close friend some time ago:

To Candy.

You are your own puppet,

A marionette

Whose moves

Have not been invented yet.

You are your own story,

A novelette

Whose words

Have not been written yet.

So I certainly agree that "Reality is relative to the observer."

Yet I also agree with Josephson that a mechanics must support reality, or all our work in mathematics is nothing but recreational, and our story is only that of a wasted life.

No doubt in my mind that your essay is the most meaningful in this "contest." You write: "Time then is not fundamental and if time is out then so is space." I agree. Time is fundamentally inseparable from spacetime.

All best,

Tom https://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/3124

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Conrad Dale Johnson wrote on Feb. 22, 2018 @ 15:32 GMT
Dear Philip,

Thanks for taking me on a pleasing little ramble through a series of intriguing ideas. I was sorry you didn’t get back to your thought about stories, at the end… but I agree with you that there’s still a lot to be learned from the strange combination of broken and unbroken symmetries in the laws of physics.

One thing I found striking here, which well describes the...

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Feb. 24, 2018 @ 10:26 GMT
Thanks for your comment, you asked

"what story leads from here to the situation of our current universe"

I think it is necessary to think in terms of each persons experience rather than just the whole universe. My experience is different from yours. We are connected but not the same. We have some common information about the world, but there are also things you know that I don't and...

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Gordon Watson wrote on Feb. 24, 2018 @ 10:19 GMT
Dear Philip,

I came to your essay just after unloading some thoughts on Bell's beables: me believing that they are (for Bell) the existents in any universe of discourse -- thus, for Bell, not always physically real -- though they are real for me in my favoured universe of discourse = spacetime, itself a real physical beable. Which is my excuse for thinking, before I'd left your first page:...

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Anonymous wrote on Feb. 26, 2018 @ 15:42 GMT
Hello Phil,

Can't open a dialog with you without expressing gratitude for the service you've given the community via vixra. Many heartfelt thanks.

First pass thru your essay was overwhelming in both breadth and depth. Can't hope to address it all, or even significant fraction. Where relevant and possibly helpful will outline connections between ideas in your essay and the geometric...

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Anonymous replied on Feb. 26, 2018 @ 18:56 GMT
Thanks for your comment. You were hit by the anonymiser bug, but you left enough clues for me to identify you.

The questions and comments have clarified the situation for me since writing my essay, but I am less clear about the definition of fundamental. Perhaps what is really fundamental is the information that is added at different levels and the relations between them. the next step should be to formulate a mathematical model.

I will look again at your essay.

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peter cameron replied on Feb. 26, 2018 @ 19:13 GMT
unanonymising here.

Thanks for mentioning clarification you developed from questions and comments, have not yet followed your thread but your mention suggests to me it will be time well spent.

re "...information that is added at different levels and the relations between them", where does that information come from? Is it not emergent from wavefunction interactions, just as the infinite variety of snowflakes emerges from H20 wavefunctions?

can/will you be a little more specific re what a math model might look like?

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Feb. 26, 2018 @ 21:45 GMT
Pete, I see information as a key characteristic of emergence. I agree that it emerges from different possibilities that are realised, such as the different snowflakes or the different outcomes of a quantum measurement. Information is what distinguishes your reality from mine. This information is not just the knowledge in our brain it is also the information about the universe around us that is consistent with our experience. So actually the information that defines your experience of reality is mostly the same as mine.

No information can come from outside the universe. When the whole is considered there is no information, it is just a collection of all possible experiences with no information to distinguish one from another. Your experience of reality requires information to distinguish it from all the other possibilities. It's a random. selection constrained by the requirement that the information we have must be consistent and comprehensible. In summary then, information is just the result of a random selection from all possible experiences.

I am not sure I can be more specific about the mathematics here. That would require writing a long paper the details of which are not yet worked out.

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Christian Corda wrote on Feb. 26, 2018 @ 18:32 GMT
Dear Phil,

It is a pleasure meeting you here in FQXi again.

Once again, you wrote an entertaining and inspiring essay. Thanks for sharing it with us. Your work deserves my highest estimation. Being a physicist of gravitation, I particularly appreciated your statement that "General relativity may be celebrated as the most aesthetically pleasing theory in physics, yet it must emerge from something deeper and possibly less appealing to our minds", despite I hope that such a something deeper will be equally appealing to our minds!

Maybe you could be interested in my Essay, where I discuss on fundamental issues with... Albert Einstein!

Good luck in the Contest.

Cheers, Ch.

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Author Philip Gibbs replied on Feb. 26, 2018 @ 21:24 GMT
Thank you Christian, I have read and commented on your essay.

On the subject of the quote you picked from my essay, I smile when I hear physicists talk about the beauty of Einstein's geometric theory of gravity. Some talk about "Angel of Geometry vs. the Demon of Algebra." they say that quantum mechanics needs to be geometrised to unify it with gravity. I think pure mathematicians have long-since realised that algebra is more fundamental, in fact geometry is just a nice example of algebra. The beauty of algebra is harder to appreciate because it does not provide us with such lovely pictures, but in my opinion its beauty is both superior and far more extensive and I am far from being expert enough to understand the work of some of the great algebraists. If general relativity is about geometry then quantum theory is about algebra, but the full beauty and power of algebra has not yet been incorporated into physics to the same extent as geometry has.

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Gary Valentine Hansen wrote on Feb. 26, 2018 @ 23:56 GMT
Hello Philip,

A belated read of your essay reveals confirmation of my own fundamental thoughts concerning 'What is "Fundamental"?' As you note, 'The universe exists, so there must be answers.'

Such was my own conclusion: the prerequisite for all that 'is' - is Existence.

'Everything is nothing in the absence of Existence'. Amen.

If you have a moment to read, comment and rank my essay at this, the eleventh hour, I would much appreciate it. I am aware that there is 'ice' on the slope today moving ranking scores downwards, in my case from 6.8 to 6.3!

Go well and good luck in the final assessment.

Gary.

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Author Philip Gibbs wrote on Feb. 28, 2018 @ 09:18 GMT
Thanks to everyone for the comments and comparisons with your own essays. This has helped me advance my ideas a little further. Sorry if I did not have time to comment on everyone's essay. I did read a lot and rated the ones I liked. I wish you all good luck for the judging but it is the exchange of ideas that really counts.

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Member Sylvia Wenmackers wrote on Mar. 12, 2018 @ 20:35 GMT
Dear Philip,

My experience in reading your essay was that it was really nice locally, though somewhat hard to navigate as a whole. I liked your discussion of the geometry problem best, though I suspect it does less for your case than you suggest. In the example, the symmetries were an epistemically helpful ladder to the solution, which can be kicked away in the end (though you can learn from how others climbed it). Yet, for physics, you suspect to find symmetry in a fundamental theory beyond those we have now. Isn't that in tension, or did I misinterpret this?

The batch of entries I selected to read includes the essay by Ilja Schmelzer: section IV addresses the loss of symmetry across symmetry change. I think it would be interesting if you two could discuss this directly.

Best wishes,

Sylvia - Seek Fundamentality, and Distrust It

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