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January 16, 2018

CATEGORY: FQXi Essay Contest - Spring, 2017 [back]
TOPIC: A Universe Made of Stories by Philip Gibbs [refresh]
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This essay's rating: Community = 7.1; Public = 8.8

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

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.

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

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 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.

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

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.

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

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.


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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

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

"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!

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

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

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.


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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...

view entire post

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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.

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.


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

"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.

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


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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.

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.

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

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;

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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.

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.


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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.

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.

Wilhelmus 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


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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.

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.

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.

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.


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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.

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

better look at:

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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.

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

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



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