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What Is “Fundamental”
October 28, 2017 to January 22, 2018
Sponsored by the Fetzer Franklin Fund and The Peter & Patricia Gruber Foundation
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Wandering Towards a Goal
How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intention?
December 2, 2016 to March 3, 2017
Contest Partner: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Fund.
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Trick or Truth: The Mysterious Connection Between Physics and Mathematics
Contest Partners: Nanotronics Imaging, The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, and The John Templeton Foundation
Media Partner: Scientific American

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How Should Humanity Steer the Future?
January 9, 2014 - August 31, 2014
Contest Partners: Jaan Tallinn, The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, The John Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American
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It From Bit or Bit From It
March 25 - June 28, 2013
Contest Partners: The Gruber Foundation, J. Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American
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Questioning the Foundations
Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?
May 24 - August 31, 2012
Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, SubMeta, and Scientific American
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Is Reality Digital or Analog?
November 2010 - February 2011
Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation and Scientific American
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What's Ultimately Possible in Physics?
May - October 2009
Contest Partners: Astrid and Bruce McWilliams
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The Nature of Time
August - December 2008
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Roger Granet: on 5/15/18 at 3:22am UTC, wrote Dr. Adlam Hi. I agree with your statement: "...and try as we might,we...

richard nixey: on 2/26/18 at 21:41pm UTC, wrote Emily, Sorry that was me gave you that little bunk up. Nice job. Must...

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FQXi FORUM
May 24, 2018

CATEGORY: FQXi Essay Contest - Spring, 2017 [back]
TOPIC: Fundamental? by Emily Christine Adlam [refresh]
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Author Emily Christine Adlam wrote on Jan. 11, 2018 @ 21:07 GMT
Essay Abstract

Changes in our understanding of the fundamental have often been associated with important scientific advances. The moment for another such paradigm shift may be upon us - but this time, we may have to change not only our ideas about what sorts of things need explaining, but also our attitudes about what counts as an explanation in the first place.

Author Bio

Emily Adlam has recently completed a PhD in quantum information and foundations at the University of Cambridge.

Download Essay PDF File

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Jack Hamilton James wrote on Jan. 12, 2018 @ 01:15 GMT
Hi Emily,

Completely agree, it may as well be an atom. And then such a fundamental Indivisible won't tell us enough about reality even if it completes all scientific knowledge. Thanks for a great essay.

Jack H James

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Scott S Gordon wrote on Jan. 12, 2018 @ 03:52 GMT
Hi Emily,

There is a deep understanding in your essay in regards to getting at what's fundamental - This statement rings very true...

"So seems that we are in dire need of another paradigm shift. And this time, instead of simply changing our attitudes about what sorts of things require explanation, we may have to change our attitudes about what counts as an explanation in the first place."

The answer provided by the fundamental basis of physics is not easily reached - If it was, the theory of everything would have been found by now. The reason it has not is for two main reasons: 1) It cannot be derived from our current math and 2) there is no experiment that will directly reveal what is truly fundamental. With this in mind - consider reading my essay... The day after the nightmare scenario.

All the best

Scott S Gordon, MD

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Georgina Woodward wrote on Jan. 12, 2018 @ 04:57 GMT
Hi Emily, I found your essay a real pleasure to read. Lots of well expressed argument. You write "Is it the fact that there exists an arrow of time....?" The arrow of time does not actually exist, as I see it, but is a metaphor, an abstract thinking aid, for one way change or one way passage of time. (I suppose it could be argued that it exists as a piece of theoretical argument in texts and lectures and thoughts.) I don't understand why you say "Asking why the arrow points this way rather than that is not even a meaningful question." There could, according to both classical mechanics and Relativity, be time reversals. There is nothing in those parts of physics theory that prohibits that happening. Yet it is never witnessed or experienced. Why is that so is a reasonable question. Is it not? Kind regards Georgina

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Author Emily Christine Adlam replied on Jan. 24, 2018 @ 22:48 GMT
Thanks for your comments, Georgina!

With regard to your question about the arrow of time, I agree it is certainly meaningful and interesting to ask why we don't see localised time reversals, like patches of the universe where time goes in a different direction to the rest of the universe. This is what I refer to as the question of why there exists an arrow of time - i.e. why does time seem to go in the same direction always and everywhere?However, I would argue that, given that there does exist an arrow of time, there is not any further meaningful question about why it points forward rather than backwards - or at least, that question is not meaningful unless there exists something outside the universe to which the two directions could be referred.

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Nainan K. Varghese wrote on Jan. 12, 2018 @ 05:31 GMT
Thanks for the essay. Whichever object you consider, all of them have a common substance from which they are made. If they are real, substance gives them objective reality and positive existence. Without substance, nothing real (even atoms) can exist. Hence, substance (whatever name it may be called) should be the most fundamental of all.

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Georgina Woodward wrote on Jan. 12, 2018 @ 05:35 GMT
Emily, I liked your piece very much as an essay. I like the way you introduced your premise via the game and refer back to the starting idea of atoms being fundamental at the very end. However I don't think that fundamental atoms are sufficient to explain the physics of the universe. They can account for materials and objects, structures but more is needed. Electrons for chemistry and biology (electron transport vital for life), and the production of electromagnetic waves by which we can see and are warmed (for example). A host for the electromagnetic waves and fields of all kinds is also needed as waves and flux can not exist in nothingness. Various kinds of differentiation of the host under different circumstances can account for a lot of the "particle zoo", in my opinion. Kind regards Georgina

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Author Emily Christine Adlam replied on Jan. 24, 2018 @ 22:51 GMT
Thanks for this comment, Georgina! I don't mean to propose a universe literally made out of atoms where nothing smaller can exist - the idea is simply that if one postulates a top-down rather than a bottom-up universe, there is a sense in which bigger things, like atoms, might be regarded as 'more fundamental' than smaller things like electrons and electromagnetic waves.

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Branko L Zivlak wrote on Jan. 12, 2018 @ 10:19 GMT
Mr.Adlam

I mean, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. So the result of a discussion with your mother is:

Thus from this perspective, it may actually turn out to be correct to say that proton is most fundamental.

Why, you can see in my essay from last year.

Regards,

Branko

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Anonymous wrote on Jan. 12, 2018 @ 17:36 GMT
Hi Emily,

I'm a fan of simple, yet profound insights, and your essay starts off with one---sometimes, we just get the explanandum wrong, and it takes a Newton to turn things back onto their feet. I had never looked at it this way, so thanks for that!

From there, your essay follows a classical dialectic: you hit us with the thesis ('fundamental means we have won'), then show that the antithesis ('fundamental means we have lost') follows with just the same cogency.

On your way to a synthesis, you offer up Heisenberg's way of thinking about quantum chance as describing a kind of propensity of quantum objects that is realized only in experiment. Perhaps there's a kind of middle way here? Having our cake, and eating it, too?

But you (rightly, in my opinion) reject this idea: we can't keep on going down the same old familiar routes. They might have brought us to this point, but if we just keep going, we'll never reach a destination: as atom is replaced by proton is replaced by quark as fundamental, we'll just keep trudging on towards a horizon we'll never reach. While that might ensure employment for future generations of scientists, it's not going to get us any closer---we must instead take back a step and try to find a different approach.

Ultimately, however, I am not sure I can agree with your conclusion (although I find it very appealing): you reverse the thrust of our erstwhile inquiry, looking not down, but up, not to constituents, but to constraints. To me, this step seems like trying to explain the ground, instead of the figure---ultimately, it will likely run into the same problems. After all, just as the constraints prune the options of what goes on at the bottom, so do the constituents dictate what sort of constraints are possible---or at least, that's how it seems to me.

Nevertheless, I think your essay is well argued, and exceptionally clear. It deserves to go far in this contest!

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Jochen Szangolies replied on Jan. 12, 2018 @ 19:41 GMT
Sorry, the above was me---not sure why I wasn't logged in...

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Donald G Palmer replied on Jan. 13, 2018 @ 22:00 GMT
Thank you for an engaging essay, Emily

A couple-a-few questions to consider:

1) If the ultimate goal of science is a full accounting of all actions, then this goal would mean we can predict every action of every particle, object or phenomenon. However, science works by making sure many repetitions produce the same result. How can this methodology lead to any solution that predicts individual non-reproducible actions?

2) If physics relies so heavily on mathematics, and on logic, then changes in the foundations of mathematics should also impact physics. Would Godel's Incompleteness theorem suggest there will always be meta-systems required to explain all aspects of a physical theory (based upon mathematics)? This theory would also seem to indicate there will always be things we cannot logically 'explain' in any system. How would we know if we hit an aspect of a theory that cannot be explained within the theory (as opposed to something incorrect about the theory)?

3) If science is about all aspects of reality, yet physics continues its reductionist trend looking at ever smaller aspects of reality, who is looking at all reality - at how all aspects and all levels fit together? It does not seem to by physicists...

I will suggest that the concern of 3) is where science needs to go next.

Take care,

Don

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David Brown wrote on Jan. 16, 2018 @ 12:14 GMT
The essay "Fundamental?" has 31 references, but none of the references are to publications by Milgrom. Is Milgrom the Kepler of contemporary cosmology? Are the empirical successes of MOND fundamental? Google "witten milgrom", "kroupa milgrom", and "mcgaugh milgrom".

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Member Matthew Saul Leifer wrote on Jan. 24, 2018 @ 00:28 GMT
I agree with almost everything you say. Just a couple of comments.

First, when you say that it is the experimenter asking questions that causes the universe to give answers to questions that are not determined by the macroscopic constraints, this sounds close to Wheeler's participatory realism, or two QBism, i.e. the idea that our interventions determine what is. Do you intend this, or are you seeking a more straightforwardly realist account?

Second, you say that the mathematics underlying physics has become more complicated, and it certainly is in the sense that it takes more years to learn the mathematics needed for quantum field theory than for Newtonian mechanics. But part of the point of abstraction is to be able to capture more structure in a simpler set of equations so, in some sense, we adopt more sophisticated mathematics to make things look simpler, not more complicated. You certainly could try to capture all of the empirical content using less abstract mathematics, but that would be complicated. Just look at Maxwell's notebooks where he writes down the equations of electromagnetism in a very complicated form because he did not have vector calculus for an example. So, my question is, exactly what meaning of complicated do you have in mind here?

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Author Emily Christine Adlam replied on Jan. 25, 2018 @ 00:03 GMT
Thanks for your comments!

With regards to realism, it's true that some of my language does resemble the QBist talk, but I'm definitely aiming for a straightforwardly realist account. When I speak of the experimenter asking questions of the universe, I don't mean to say that the experimenter or their choices are somehow outside of the universe - the experimenter and their brain are subsystems of the universe and so the fact that they choose to perform a certain experiment is itself dictated by the macroscopic constraints governing the universe: we just have a constraint problem whose solution requires more detail in some places than in others.

With regards to complexity, you're right to point out that the difficulty of the maths for us humans isn't necessarily a good indicator of its complexity in the sense relevant to theory-selection - I should have been more formal and less rhetorical here. What I have in mind is mainly related to my later comment about lots of different microscopic theories giving rise to the same macroscopic theory - this seems to indicate that there must be some superfluous complexity in the microscopic descriptions, and hence that there should be some measure of complexity by which our microscopic descriptions are more complex than the corresponding macroscopic theories. I'm tempted to suggest using the Kolmogorov complexity, but I suspect it would be very hard to put any actual numbers to it.

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Gary Valentine Hansen wrote on Jan. 25, 2018 @ 05:33 GMT
Thank you Emily,

Your acknowledgement that ‘ “fundamental” is a shifting goal-post in physics’ prompts the question whether we should identify and target the subject for which we seek a fundamental concept before attempting to define what constitutes “fundamental”.

In accepting this premise the notion ‘getting to grips with the fundamental is the promised land, the endgame of science’ is no longer so since every structure has its own discrete foundation – its own fundamental existence.

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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Jan. 27, 2018 @ 02:15 GMT
Hi Emily Christine Adlam

Your discussion of arrow of time other concepts in a simple and thoughtful way of discussion about Fundamental are really excellent…..dear Emily ….. By the way have a look at my essay also and post your esteemed observations there….

Dynamic Universe Model says that the energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation passing grazingly near any...

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Joe Fisher wrote on Jan. 30, 2018 @ 20:26 GMT
Dear Fellow Essayists

This will be my final plea for fair treatment.,

FQXI is clearly seeking to find out if there is a fundamental REALITY.

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 must consist 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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Peter Jackson wrote on Feb. 2, 2018 @ 20:31 GMT
Emily,

Quite brilliant, beautifully conceived, considered & written, and correct. Thank you. Top marks. I certainly agree; "We are in dire need of another paradigm shift". and your alternate view.;

"quantum mechanics came along, and try as we might, we could not find satisfactory explanations for the quantum probabilities. So we stopped trying, and began applying the term ‘fundamental’ to cover our lack of understanding.

Now a shock - I didn't stop trying. I'd hope you might study & try to falsify the ontological mechanism in my essay (no maths) which appears to reproduce QM classically - in just the way John Bell predicted. Yes it DOES seem a bit complex initially, but you should understand it (better than most seems able to!)

The matching computer code and Cos2 plots are in Declan Trail's essay.

Note this came out of trying to falsify and apparent logical solution for SR (see my prev finalist essays inc peer rated 1st & 2nd). So I think and hope, finally, you're right that;

"another such paradigm shift may be upon us - but this time, we may have to change not only our ideas about what sorts of things need explaining, but also our attitudes about what counts as an explanation."

Well done, and thank you again, for yours.

Very best

Peter

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Conrad Dale Johnson wrote on Feb. 5, 2018 @ 17:37 GMT
Hi Emily,

Definitely one of the best essays here – clear, insightful and fun to read. I especially appreciate that it’s historically informed… and I think you do get to the key issue. The question of what’s fundamental is closely tied to the question of what counts as an explanation, and also, of what it is that really needs to be explained about our world. As you suggest, the...

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Member Ken Wharton wrote on Feb. 5, 2018 @ 19:28 GMT
Hi Emily -- Wow; that was a really great essay! A much bigger scope (and much better answer) than what I tried to do in mine, although we touched on a few of the same themes. As you probably know, I'm in essential agreement about just about everything here -- and indeed I'm still trying to sort out just how 'under-determined' the micro-reality might be.

Right at the very end, though, I...

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Author Emily Christine Adlam replied on Feb. 8, 2018 @ 23:24 GMT
Thank you very much for reading and for your comments! I very much enjoyed your essay and was glad to see that I would not be alone in my scepticism about randomness.

You are indeed correct that I do not intend my comments to have an anti-realist flavour - I should probably have been clearer about that in the essay.

With regards to your question, I think I am indeed leaning towards the more 'dramatic' possibility. That is, I am tempted to say that in every scenario that we would typically describe as a superposition, the universe simply does not decide between two possibilities, and in fact nothing is actually physically present between the preparation and the measurement, because the question of which possibility holds is simply not relevant to the satisfaction of whatever the universal constraints are.

This is still not precise enough, however, because it doesn't say much about when the universe is required to make up its mind so the superposition ceases to be a superposition, meaning that we're still left with something that looks like the measurement problem. In particular, although I would be tempted to take a Stern-Gerlach device as a paradigmatic example of the type of case where nothing is really present between preparation and measurement, a more definite answer to your question would have to wait upon the formulation of a theory (or at least toy theory) describing how the universal constraints determine which events do `actually happen.'

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Conrad Dale Johnson replied on Feb. 19, 2018 @ 15:09 GMT
Emily – I think you’re leaning in the right direction here. I don’t think it’s “anti-realist” to assume there’s no absolute fact in situations where the facts make no difference to anything.

But as to “when the universe is required to make up its mind” – in other words, when there’s a physical context in which something about a quantum system becomes measurable – I don’t think there’s really any mystery about this. In these dual-path experiments, we have no problem understanding when “which path” information is available and when it isn’t. We know what kinds of contexts are needed to measure any particular information. The problem is that measurement contexts are hard to conceptualize, since different kinds of information need different contexts, and every measurement relies on other kinds of measurements. So it’s not clear how to fit them into any fundamental theory... which is the question addressed in my essay.

Thanks again – Conrad

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Steven Andresen wrote on Feb. 6, 2018 @ 04:58 GMT
Dear Emily Christine Adlam

Just letting you know that I am making a start on reading of your essay, and hope that you might also take a glance over mine please? I look forward to the sharing of thoughtful opinion. Congratulations on your essay rating as it stands, and best of luck for the contest conclusion.

My essay is titled

“Darwinian Universal Fundamental Origin”. It stands as a novel test for whether a natural organisational principle can serve a rationale, for emergence of complex systems of physics and cosmology. I will be interested to have my effort judged on both the basis of prospect and of novelty.

Thank you & kind regards

Steven Andresen

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Flavio Del Santo wrote on Feb. 6, 2018 @ 10:17 GMT
Dear Emily,

many thanks for one of the best essay I have read (and I have read many indeed). It is clearly writte, well argued, and it provides a number of insights that go directly to the point of what fundamental means. It was a real pleasure to ascertain that our views are very close about most of the things you state in your essay. I particularly appreciated the sentence in which you rightly notice that "something that was once regarded as fundamental became explainable in the context of a new theory".

Moreover, your critique of the naive reductionist program is very agreeable, and it is based on the same arguments I have used in my essay, namely that " It seems likely that part of the problem is the reductionism that still dominates the thinking of most of those who consider themselves realists about science.

Congratulations again for this beautiful essay, I top rate it!

Best of luck,

Flavio

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Francesco D'Isa wrote on Feb. 8, 2018 @ 11:53 GMT
Dear Emily,

congratulations for your essay, it's one of the best I've read, very clear, well written and full of intriguing ideas. Moreover your idea has some points in common with mine, since I propose the relativity of fundamentality.

> So seems that we are in dire need of another paradigm shift. And this time, instead of simply changing our attitudes about what sorts of things require explanation, we may have to change our attitudes about what counts as an explanation in the first place.

I very agree, the answers change with the questions. This is a statement that you make stronger with:

> the notion of the Fundamental, writ large, is not supposed to be about our practical interests

Finally, just a curiosity:

> The present explains the future, and not vice versa

I propose a logical model where it could be also vice versa, redefining "explains".

All the best!

Francesco D'Isa

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James Lee Hoover wrote on Feb. 9, 2018 @ 22:34 GMT
Emily,

The quandary about what is fundamental can be solved by cherry-picking your definition: mine is "that which is fundamental is necessary for existence," and pointing out that fundamental evolves with discovery. Physics starts with that which we know and build theories on that and as discoveries come smack our foreheads and say "this is the new truth." To determine fundamental we must have sentient beings to observe and set the theories and nature as the source of our queries. We now have LIGO which scientists theorize can be fine-tuned to recording the BB. We have LHC ramping up to the first seconds of the BB, that is if it is the BB and not the inverted BB or whatever. As you say, we must start with big pieces maybe the atom which our best microscopes can detect, and not define fundamental as the smallest and most basic. Certainly "changes in our understanding of the fundamental have often been associated with important scientific advances -- the concept does evolve.

Enjoyed your monologue. Hope you get a chance to look at mine.

Jim Hoover

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Member Noson S. Yanofsky wrote on Feb. 12, 2018 @ 17:20 GMT
Dear Emily,

Thank you for a wonderful essay.

While others have questioned if there are fundamentals, you have questioned if fundamentals are a positive thing. Interesting!

Your analysis of probability is brilliant. Thank you.

I hope you have a chance to look at my essay.

All the best,

Noson

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Avtar Singh wrote on Feb. 12, 2018 @ 17:22 GMT
Hi Emily:

I agree with your statement- "The moment for another such paradigm shift may be upon us - but this time, we may have to change not only our ideas about what sorts of things need explaining, but also our attitudes about what counts as an explanation in the first place."

I would like to draw your attention to the paradigm shift of the missing fundamental physics governing - “What causes a photon to accelerate to the speed of light?” I would like to invite you to look into 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 depicts a 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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James Lee Hoover wrote on Feb. 15, 2018 @ 23:31 GMT
Emily,

As time grows short, I recheck those that I have commented on to see if I've rated them. I find that I have not rated yours and am correcting that now.

Hope you can get a chance to look at mine.

Jim Hoover

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John Brodix Merryman wrote on Feb. 16, 2018 @ 04:30 GMT
Emily,

A logical explanation for the "arrow of time."

We experience reality as flashes of cognition and so think this arrow, or "flow," from past to future, is a fundamental fact of nature, but have difficulty explaining it. Physics has determined it must be a dimension, experienced as duration and so distills it down to measures of duration, which are correlated to measures of...

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Cristinel Stoica wrote on Feb. 19, 2018 @ 16:05 GMT
Dear Emily,

What a wonderful essay! I liked it on multiple levels, the ideas, the explanations, the style.

In particular I fully agree with your statement "Fundamental means we have lost. Fundamental is an admission of defeat" when saying that "we stopped trying, and began applying the term 'fundamental' to cover our lack of understanding". While maybe we can't assign quantum probabilities in the usual way as in statistical mechanics, this doesn't mean there are no other ways.

Also this was really a good one "Even Leibniz ultimately needed a God to complete his vision - 'God,' of course, being the same sort of sticking-plaster concept as 'fundamental.'" Yes, you're right, and you're right also that there is more beyond the place where we proclaim the final stop. Maybe the most interesting things are beyond.

Best wishes,

Cristi Stoica

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Anonymous wrote on Feb. 19, 2018 @ 20:22 GMT
Dear Emily,

Yours is one of the most elegant essays in this contest, and it broaches a number of interesting points in an engaging manner.

A few comments:

1. It seems to me that the consequence to draw from the realization that "our ancestors who came up with concept of objective chance cannot ever had anz actual experience of what we now understand to be objective chance" is...

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Armin Nikkhah Shirazi replied on Feb. 19, 2018 @ 20:24 GMT
That was my post.

Armin

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Author Emily Christine Adlam replied on Feb. 21, 2018 @ 23:24 GMT
Hi Armin, thank you for your comments!

In response to your queries:

1) There are certain theories of meaning (e.g. the causal theory of meaning) which would suggest that it is literally impossible for the wrong idea to lead to the right conclusion in this manner. However, I wouldn't go this far. My argument is simply that, if our ancestors were indeed right about objective chance, that is an extraordinary coincidence - it seems far more plausible to me that they weren't right and that we only believe in objective chance now because a confusion in the foundations of probability has been unreflectively carried over to a confusion in the foundations of quantum mechanics.

2) Agreed - I'm not sure I would want to go so far as to say that fundamentality is wholly epistemic, with no objective basis whatsoever, but certainly there is a significant sociological component built into what we mean by `fundamental.'

3) I agree that `being/existence' is a key concept. Indeed, as I tried to suggest later, I think that we should probably have a much less rich ontology - a lot of the particles, fields and so on that feature in our current best theories probability shouldn't be considered to `exist,' at least not all of the time.

4) I don't have any specific model in mind in which atoms are more fundamental than quarks, so that comment is more rhetorical than technical at the moment. However, I think one might reasonably say such a thing if, for instance, it turns out that atoms exist all of the time and quarks only exist when we do certain specific types of experiments.

5) I certainly agree with this - I think building bigger particle accelerators to look at smaller and smaller things is going in entirely the wrong direction. As you say, some careful conceptual analysis might serve us much better!

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Heinrich Luediger wrote on Feb. 20, 2018 @ 16:32 GMT
Dear Emily,

Leibniz’ PSR appears in the direct neighborhood of another principle, and I think that they cannot be meaningfully separated, particularly since they are coupled by an AND.

§30. Our reasonings are based on two great principles, that of contradiction, in virtue of which we judge that which involves a contradiction to be false, and that which is opposed or contradictory...

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Steven Andresen wrote on Feb. 23, 2018 @ 14:00 GMT
Dear Emily

If you are looking for another essay to read and rate in the final days of the contest, will you consider mine please?

A couple of days in and semblance of my essay taking form, however the house bound inactivity was wearing me. I had just the remedy, so took off for a solo sail across the bay. In the lea of cove, I had underestimated the open water wind strengths. My...

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Member Marc Séguin wrote on Feb. 24, 2018 @ 03:50 GMT
Dear Emily,

So many essays, so little time... Just a short post to let you know your essay was one of the best I read in this contest. Well written, witty, with many provocative ideas! Some of the highlights for me:

“What do we suppose will be left over when all reasonable questions have been answered? The simplest answer is also the most ambitious: nothing.” (Have you read Amanda Gefter’s book, “Trespassing on Einstein’s Lawn”? I highly recommend it!)

“We are deeply uncomfortable with the idea that the universe must, on some level, be arbitrary.” (Personally, as I argue in my essay, I think that non-arbitrariness must characterize the deepest, most fundamental level of reality.)

“Perhaps we should take it as a sign that we have been swimming against the current all this time: the messiness deep down is a sign that the universe works not ‘bottom-up’ but rather ‘top-down,’ with the laws of nature governing the whole of history at once, akin to the Lagrangian formulation of classical physics.” (I too find Ken Wharton’s ideas very interesting.)

“[…] as we build bigger and bigger particle accelerators to probe ever more deeply, the universe will be forced to invent deeper and deeper levels of reality that exist only to answer our questions.” Whoa! ;) I hinted at a similar possibility in the essay I wrote in the previous FQXi contest; in figure 4 of the essay I submitted for this contest, this is the reason why my “top-down” chain of monkeys fades into something indefinite at the bottom end…

Congratulations! I am glad your essay is doing well in the community ratings, and I hope it gets the recognition it deserves.

Best wishes,

Marc

fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/3132

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Don Limuti wrote on Feb. 25, 2018 @ 01:00 GMT
Hello Emile,

Thanks for the clarity in your essay. I have been aware of top down causation since the first FQXi.org contests. I have not understood why this should be considered serious until your essay.

1. So, your mother had it right with the pout that encapsulated "why does everybody make things so complex!"

2. The machine of the universe should have a warning sign. "This machine works on the simple laws of nature. Be warned that if you take off the cover to see how it works you may be disappointed, unless you are the type of person who likes to know how sausage is really made!!!"

You entry is doing very well in this contest and does not need my support... so I will support it anyway.

Thanks,

Don Limuti

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Jeffrey Michael Schmitz wrote on Feb. 26, 2018 @ 06:19 GMT
There are many essays and little time! I like this stream of thought style that starts an internal debate and opens up ideas. One of the best essays. I like to get to the point a little faster than you, but that is just a style choice.

All the best,

Jeff Schmtiz

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Dizhechko Boris Semyonovich wrote on Feb. 26, 2018 @ 08:54 GMT
Dear Emily Adlam, I'd appreciate it if you write in your wonderful reasoning the principle of identity of space and matter Descartes, on which is based the New Cartesian Physics. For a long time believed that the Foundation for fundamental theories is matter, an attribute which was mass. Once there was a formula of mass – energy equivalence, and mass lost the status of a value characterizing the amount of matter, about it rarely began to remember and physics has lost the Foundation. Any theory of everything is created in such circumstances would not be fundamental. The principle of identity of space and matter Descartes, according to which physical space is matter and matter is space that moves, gives us the Foundation for fundamental theories. Look at my essay, FQXi Fundamental in New Cartesian Physics by Dizhechko Boris Semyonovich Where I showed how radically the physics can change if it follows the principle of identity of space and matter of Descartes. This Physics needs your support to develop further. Visit my page and give your assessment there. I hope your highly appreciate it.

I wish you success! Sincerely, Boris Dizhechko

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richard kingsley nixey wrote on Feb. 26, 2018 @ 21:41 GMT
Emily,

Sorry that was me gave you that little bunk up. Nice job. Must rush

Rich.

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Roger Granet wrote on May. 15, 2018 @ 03:22 GMT
Dr. Adlam

Hi. I agree with your statement:

"...and try as we might,we could not find satisfactory explanations for the quantum probabilities. So we stopped trying, and began applying the term ‘fundamental’ to cover our lack of understanding.The word ‘fundamental’ become a disguise for our confusion."

but then you seem to say that really it's okay to stop trying and...

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