Search FQXi


If you are aware of an interesting new academic paper (that has been published in a peer-reviewed journal or has appeared on the arXiv), a conference talk (at an official professional scientific meeting), an external blog post (by a professional scientist) or a news item (in the mainstream news media), which you think might make an interesting topic for an FQXi blog post, then please contact us at forums@fqxi.org with a link to the original source and a sentence about why you think that the work is worthy of discussion. Please note that we receive many such suggestions and while we endeavour to respond to them, we may not be able to reply to all suggestions.

Please also note that we do not accept unsolicited posts and we cannot review, or open new threads for, unsolicited articles or papers. Requests to review or post such materials will not be answered. If you have your own novel physics theory or model, which you would like to post for further discussion among then FQXi community, then please add them directly to the "Alternative Models of Reality" thread, or to the "Alternative Models of Cosmology" thread. Thank you.

Contests Home


Previous Contests

What Is “Fundamental”
October 28, 2017 to January 22, 2018
Sponsored by the Fetzer Franklin Fund and The Peter & Patricia Gruber Foundation
read/discusswinners

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.
read/discusswinners

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

read/discusswinners

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
read/discusswinners

It From Bit or Bit From It
March 25 - June 28, 2013
Contest Partners: The Gruber Foundation, J. Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American
read/discusswinners

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
read/discusswinners

Is Reality Digital or Analog?
November 2010 - February 2011
Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation and Scientific American
read/discusswinners

What's Ultimately Possible in Physics?
May - October 2009
Contest Partners: Astrid and Bruce McWilliams
read/discusswinners

The Nature of Time
August - December 2008
read/discusswinners

Forum Home
Introduction
Terms of Use

Order posts by:
 chronological order
 most recent first

Posts by the author are highlighted in orange; posts by FQXi Members are highlighted in blue.

By using the FQXi Forum, you acknowledge reading and agree to abide by the Terms of Use

 RSS feed | RSS help
RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Karen Crowther: on 3/16/18 at 23:23pm UTC, wrote Dear Sylvia, Thanks very much! Yes, you raise some good points here, and...

Karen Crowther: on 3/16/18 at 22:16pm UTC, wrote Dear Armin, Thanks very much! (And sorry for the delayed response). You...

Karen Crowther: on 3/14/18 at 16:00pm UTC, wrote Dear Alyssa, Thank you for your comments. Sorry for my delayed response. ...

Sylvia Wenmackers: on 3/12/18 at 20:16pm UTC, wrote Dear Karen, I found your essay very clear! Unlike some others, it came...

Terry Bollinger: on 2/27/18 at 22:13pm UTC, wrote Karen, Christi, I can ask even if it's awkward for either of you: Does...

Gary Hansen: on 2/26/18 at 23:25pm UTC, wrote Dear Karen, A belated answer to your bottom line question; 'What is the...

Karen Crowther: on 2/26/18 at 16:50pm UTC, wrote Dear Christi, Thanks for this. Yes, I was very surprised to notice such a...

Cristinel Stoica: on 2/26/18 at 16:38pm UTC, wrote Dear Karen, You are the victim of a targeted attack of massive downvoting....


RECENT FORUM POSTS

Techie Gorilla: "The Quicken account has some off-base record data or is covered up. The..." in Space-time from Collapse...

Georgina Woodward: "Steve, I don't think you have read the argument I presented. You begin with..." in Space-time from Collapse...

Joe Fisher: "Today’s Closer To Truth Facebook page contained this peculiar..." in Dissolving Quantum...

Joe Fisher: "Today’s Closer To Truth Facebook page contained this peculiar..." in Dissolving Quantum...

Shirley Massy: "1. Wait a few minutes and select "Try again". 2. Go to support.roku.com..." in Are We Merging With Our...

David Nash: "The protons and neutrons inside the atomic nucleus exhibit shell structures..." in New Nuclear "Magic...

Georgina Woodward: "Zeeya, thanks for bringing this book to my attention. I also listened to..." in Superhuman: Book Review...

Huzaifa seo: "google" in Our Place in the...


RECENT ARTICLES
click titles to read articles

Dissolving Quantum Paradoxes
The impossibility of building a perfect clock could help explain away microscale weirdness.

Constructing a Theory of Life
An all-encompassing framework of physics could help to explain the evolution of consciousness, intelligence, and free will.

Usurping Quantum Theory
The search is on for a fundamental framework that allows for even stranger links between particles than quantum theory—which could lead us to a theory of everything.

Fuzzballs v Black Holes
A radical theory replaces the cosmic crunchers with fuzzy quantum spheres, potentially solving the black-hole information paradox and explaining away the Big Bang and the origin of time.

Whose Physics Is It Anyway? Q&A with Chanda Prescod-Weinstein
Why physics and astronomy communities must take diversity issues seriously in order to do good science.


FQXi FORUM
October 21, 2018

CATEGORY: FQXi Essay Contest - Spring, 2017 [back]
TOPIC: When do we stop digging? Conditions on a fundamental theory of physics by Karen Crowther [refresh]
Bookmark and Share
Login or create account to post reply or comment.

Author Karen Crowther wrote on Jan. 18, 2018 @ 19:08 GMT
Essay Abstract

In seeking an answer to the question of what it means for a theory to be fundamental, it is enlightening to ask why the current best theories of physics are not generally believed to be fundamental. This reveals a set of conditions that a theory of physics must satisfy in order to be considered fundamental. Physics aspires to describe ever deeper levels of reality, which may be without end. Ultimately, at any stage we may not be able to tell whether we've reached rock bottom, or even if there is a base level – nevertheless, I draft a checklist to help us identify when to stop digging, in the case where we may have reached a candidate for a final theory. Given that the list is – according to (current) mainstream belief in high-energy physics – complete, and each criterion well-motivated, I argue that a physical theory that satisfies all the criteria can be assumed to be fundamental in the absence of evidence to the contrary (i.e., I argue that the necessary conditions are jointly sufficient for a claim of fundamentality in physics).

Author Bio

Karen Crowther is a postdoc at the University of Geneva, where she is investigating questions related to scientific theory-change. Before this, she was a postdoc at the University of Pittsburgh, and before that, she obtained her PhD in philosophy from the University of Sydney. Karen is the author of “Effective Spacetime: Understanding Emergence in Effective Field Theory and Quantum Gravity” (Springer, 2016), as well as a number of peer-reviewed journal articles. She also holds a BA (Hons.) in philosophy, and a BSc (Hons.) in physics, from Monash University, Clayton.

Download Essay PDF File

Bookmark and Share



Marcel-Marie LeBel wrote on Jan. 19, 2018 @ 01:43 GMT
Karen,

The background independence is somehow nonsensical. How can we require this of a number of events at different scales but essentially happening in the same arena?

“The idea of unification is not just that there be a single theory describing all phenomena, but that it describe all phenomena as the same—as fundamentally stemming from a single origin, e.g., as manifestations of a single entity or interaction.”

In my essay I construct this background arena from a bottom-up logical approach. Logic is scale invariant! A lucid but not weird vision.

Your essay is Well written, informative, a keeper,

Thanks,

Marcel,

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Jan. 20, 2018 @ 05:59 GMT
Dear Marcel,

Thanks very much for your comments.

Less-fundamental theories may have their arena provided by more-fundamental ones, but this cannot be the case for an absolutely fundamental theory – there is no further “background”, and the theory should be self-contained. As an example, Carlo Rovelli views more-fundamental theories as tending to further relationalism: all structures within a fundamental theory are defined by reference to one another, rather than to a background arena that needs to be specified for the theory.

You view the background arena as fundamental, instead? Or is it constructed from something more fundamental?

Best regards,

Karen

Bookmark and Share


Marcel-Marie LeBel replied on Jan. 21, 2018 @ 02:25 GMT
Karen,

The background is the fundamental arena for things to exist and happen. In my essay, I create such background from nothingness from the rule of non-contradiction. It is more like a form of fundamental ontology in a bottom-up mode. Please read my essay in full and tell me if asking “why” in this case is the proper question.

Thanks,

Marcel,

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Jan. 19, 2018 @ 05:18 GMT
Dear Karen Crowther,

It is interesting that you investigate questions related to scientific theory-change. Are you focused primarily on historical instances of such, or on practical obstacles to affecting such today?

I found your discussion of fundamental theories and related issues useful. It's always nice to see thumbnail snapshots of vast theories where it's easy to get lost in details. I believe you accurately describe the situation at hand and would not argue against your points. Rather than expound upon what you said, I will suggest that as 'scientific theory-change' goes, you might enjoy my essay. Einstein's invention of "the relativity of simultaneity" was a monstrous change, and I look at the historical aspects underlying this change. I would be very interested in any comments you might have on the changes discussed.

My best regards,

Edwin Eugene Klingman

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Jan. 20, 2018 @ 05:56 GMT
Dear Edwin Eugene Klingman,

Thanks very much for your comments; I am glad to hear that some ideas are useful to your own work. My research is currently focused on the search for quantum gravity – the principles being used both in motivating this search, as well as those serving as constraints on the new theory. But, yes, I am also interested in looking at previous instances of theory-change in order to see what lessons we can bring to the current situation. So, I will have a look at your essay, too.

Best regards,

Karen

Bookmark and Share



John C Hodge wrote on Jan. 19, 2018 @ 17:33 GMT
We can stop digging when we can create a universe.

Hodge

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 6, 2018 @ 21:19 GMT
What do you mean "create a universe"? And how would that give us a fundamental theory?

Bookmark and Share


John C Hodge replied on Feb. 8, 2018 @ 13:16 GMT
Create as in cause to come into being like God is supposed to have done.

We would have to have a fundamental (most fundamental?) understanding about cause and effect relationships. Model comes first.

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 14, 2018 @ 12:36 GMT
Ah yes, I see what you mean now. It would obviously be a sufficient condition, but I'd hope it's not a necessary one!

Best,

Karen

Bookmark and Share



David Lyle Peterson wrote on Jan. 20, 2018 @ 02:37 GMT
Your essay is very well written, well informed, logical and thorough. I appreciated its intelligence. A problem might be that the arena of deep fundamentals is likely well beyond our future ability to perform experiments and beyond normal science – beyond testability. How open should we be to the attempts of string theorists to “redefine science” to include their realm? I tend to be skeptical and wonder if deep theories may end up being partly "faith based."

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Karen Crowther replied on Jan. 20, 2018 @ 05:55 GMT
Thanks very much! Yes, I agree the current situation with quantum gravity seems quite detached from the experimental realm, and this has led to some very interesting questions regarding the status of theoretical physics as a scientific discipline, and the role of non-empirical theory assessment. This is why I wanted to leave open the possibility that what physics currently views as conditions on a fundamental theory may change in the future, due to quantum gravity research.

But I think there is hope in the future that more connections will be drawn between the various QG approaches and the empirical realm. (Remember that it was a while before GR was experimentally verified, for example, too). Rather than being sceptical, we can try to be optimistic that the theories may eventually be indirectly testable, potentially yielding some novel predictions in regimes that are accessible to us. Similarly, we may be able to put more experimental constraints on the theories “from the other direction”, using observations in currently accessible regimes (constraints on violations of Lorentz invariance is a good example of work that has been done on this). "QG phenomenology" is a branch of research that aims at drawing these connections between theory and observation, from both directions, and some good people are working on this -- even "neutrally", without being tied to particular QG approaches.

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Stephen James Anastasi wrote on Jan. 20, 2018 @ 04:48 GMT
Hello Karen

Love it. I rate it 9, only because its originality is confined to creating the list. This is not a criticism, just an observation. I hope that you may find my essay satisfies all but one of your criteria. That is, one of my conclusions is weird - even I think it is weird, like changes in time being observer dependent. I would very much value your feedback.

Stephen Anastasi

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Jan. 20, 2018 @ 06:01 GMT
Dear Stephen,

Thanks very much! I will also have a look at your essay.

Best,

Karen

Bookmark and Share


Flavio Del Santo replied on Jan. 20, 2018 @ 17:16 GMT
Dear Karen,

congratulation for one of the few essay that deservers to be called an eassy. Quite original and well structured. I rated it very high.

Although you approach the problem from a very different perspective (you might like to have a look at my essay for comparison), I definitely like your clarity and rogour.

As a curiosity, let me mention that I am a frined of Niels Linnemann (who I also quoted in my essay as an example for proposals of emergent gravity), that I think works on similar things of yours, in Geneva. Do you know him?

Good luck, and I wish you the very best,

Flavio

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Alan M. Kadin wrote on Jan. 20, 2018 @ 18:14 GMT
Dear Dr. Crowther,

Congratulations on a clear and readable essay on the conditions for fundamental theories of physics. I agree with you that the number-one condition should be unity. But I think it is equally important that a fundamental theory be simple, in the sense of Occam’s razor. It is generally believed that no simple theory is possible. In my own essay, “Fundamental Waves...

view entire post


Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Jan. 28, 2018 @ 12:23 GMT
Dear Dr. Kadin,

Thanks very much for your comments. Yes, I agree that a fundamental theory should be simple, too. Although I have not explicitly included it as a condition, several of the conditions that I listed are associated with simplicity, e.g., unification, uniqueness, level-comprehensiveness, no-weirdness, and background independence. It may be argued that they each point to different conceptions of simplicity, but the requirement of background independence, in particular, certainly captures the Occam’s razor sense of the term.

I’m curious why you say it’s generally believed that no simple theory is possible? Your essay sounds very interesting, I will try to read it soon.

Best,

Karen

Bookmark and Share



Hans van Leunen wrote on Jan. 20, 2018 @ 21:45 GMT
Dear Dr. Crowther,

In your approach, 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 selected set of number systems into the modeling platform. Hilbert spaces can only cope with division rings and separable Hilbert spaces can store discrete values but no continuums. Each infinite dimensional separable Hilbert space owns a unique non-separable Hilbert space that embeds its separable partner. In this way, the structure and the functionality of the platform grow in a restricted way. After a few steps a very powerful and flexible modeling platform evolves. This model acts as a repository for dynamic geometric data that fit in quaternionic eigenvalues of dedicated operators. The non-separable part of the model can archive continuums that are defined by quaternionic functions.

In other words, the foundation that was discovered by Birkhoff and von Neumann delivers a base model that can offer the basement of well-founded theories and that puts restrictions on the dimensions which universe can claim.

Multiple Hilbert spaces can share the same underlying vector space and form a set of platforms that float on a background platform. On those platforms can live objects that hop around in a stochastic hopping path. This adds dynamics to the model.

The orthomodular lattice acts like a seed from which a certain kind of plant grows. Here the seed turns into the physical reality that we perceive.

The Wikiversity Hilbert Book Model Project investigates this approach.

https://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/Hilbert_Book_Model_
Project

http://vixra.org/author/j_a_j_van_leunen contains documents that treat some highlights of the project.

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Francesco D'Isa wrote on Jan. 21, 2018 @ 14:03 GMT
Dear Karen,

I appreciated your essay, an interesting shift in perspective. In a certain sense, it's a way to answer to a question with another question, but in a productive way, congratulations.

You write that "Physics does and must assume that we are able to formulate a physical description of all phenomena, and that this description is useful to us as far it can be". I wonder if the "useful" parameter should change, for questions intrinsically philosophical as "fundamentality" – but as you pointed with your paper, questions and answers often changes together.

All the bets, and thank you for sharing your interesting point of view,

Francesco D'Isa

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Jan. 28, 2018 @ 12:22 GMT
Dear Francesco,

Thanks very much! I'm glad you enjoyed reading it. Yes, normally in my work, I adopt a more neutral philosophical standpoint, but for this essay I decided instead to explore the question of fundamentality from the perspective of physics itself. Additionally, I have interpreted physics in a rather pragmatic way. Physics is loath to accept a theory that is not able to be used to generate predictions – and, typically, it is through a theory being applied that it is confirmed.

But, yes, just as you point out, I believe that this question of “usefulness” is open to be re-considered, or reinterpreted in quantum gravity research.

Best regards,

Karen

Bookmark and Share


Francesco D'Isa replied on Jan. 28, 2018 @ 17:33 GMT
Dear Karen,

thank you for your nice reply, I wish you all the best for your essay!

Bests,

Francesco

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Gregory Derry wrote on Jan. 21, 2018 @ 16:28 GMT
Karen--

Very nice essay, well written as well as thoughtful. I do think that some of your criteria for being fundamental are a little overly restrictive, which I think may be related to your focus on QFT and GR as the only theories worthy of attention. I was especially interested in your essay because I wrote an essay with a similar intent, and I am hoping you will take a look at it and offer some feedback. I will not try to elaborate on my observations concerning your criteria at this point because to do so would essentially just rehash what's in my essay, but perhaps we can exchange more thoughts later based on your reaction to the ideas expressed there. Meanwhile, let me just say that I enjoyed reading you essay.

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Jan. 28, 2018 @ 12:19 GMT
Dear Gregory,

Thanks very much! OK, I will take a look at your essay and then perhaps we can discuss more.

Best,

Karen

Bookmark and Share



Flavio Del Santo wrote on Jan. 21, 2018 @ 17:37 GMT
Dear Karen,

congratulation for one of the few essay that deservers to be called an eassy. Quite original and well structured. I rated it very high.

Although you approach the problem from a very different perspective (you might like to have a look at my essay for comparison), I definitely like your clarity and rogour.

As a curiosity, let me mention that I am a frined of Niels Linnemann (who I also quoted in my essay as an example for proposals of emergent gravity), that I think works on similar things of yours, in Geneva. Do you know him?

Good luck, and I wish you the very best,

Flavio

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Jan. 28, 2018 @ 12:18 GMT
Dear Flavio,

Thanks very much! Yes, Niels is a colleague and friend, we recently published this article on UV completion, which served as a source of inspiration for the current essay https://arxiv.org/abs/1705.06777

I will try also to give comments and vote on your essay soon.

Best,

Karen

Bookmark and Share



Eckard Blumschein wrote on Jan. 22, 2018 @ 02:26 GMT
Dear Karen Krowther,

Is the absence of evidence to the contrary really enough or should serious doubts also matter? In mathematics there were many proofs showing the existence of God. I also would likr to remind of G. Cantor's diagonal argument.

Do you accept for instance Klingman's argument on simultaneity as evidence?

Eckard Blumschein

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Eckard Blumschein replied on Feb. 13, 2018 @ 18:59 GMT
Dear Karen Crowther,

Sorry for misspelling your name. Hopefully you nonetheless understood my point. Let me try and say it with other words:

Let's never stop digging in the treasure of possible corrections.

Admittedly, I am not ready to expect finding any theory to be unified, unique, UV complete, etc. by means of your nine criteria as long as commonly agreed assumptions are treated like a taboo. Elapsed time is definitely more weird to physicists than to common sense.

Kadin pointed to several possibly overlooked treasures. Just a single one out of them seems to be worth digging, at least to me. What about McEachern/Traill?

Eckard

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 14, 2018 @ 12:41 GMT
Dear Eckard,

Thanks. Yes, I'm sorry to say I don't understand what you mean. Could you perhaps elaborate a bit more on what you mean by "possible corrections" and "commonly agreed assumptions", please?

I haven't yet read Kadin's essay, and am unfamiliar with McEachern/Traill.

Best,

Karen

Bookmark and Share


Eckard Blumschein replied on Feb. 14, 2018 @ 14:51 GMT
Dear Karen,

Klingman followed Phipps Jr. who tried to fundamentally correct Einstein and rescue ubiquitous simultaneity. I guess, the treasure of unseen alternatives might be larger. In my essay, I even questioned Maxwell's guess as the correct fundamental of gamma. Being not an etherist, I rather share Michelson's preliminary agnosticism. I feel intrigued by Foucault's pendulum which is nicely to be seen in Magdeburg and also by the late Michelson's experiment.

Kadin questions a lot of mandatory tenets, maybe too many as to get accepted. In particular, I admire his older essay "Just too many people". W"hile I don't feel myself right in political sense, I consider Kadin's judgement as alerting. The money given by "good" people like me to the exploding population in poor regions

does not solve the problem of lacking responsibility, on the contrary ...

When Kadin confronted us with the prediction that QM will never fulfill the hope for hugely improved computers, the cautious reaction here seems to confirm that he again put his finger squarely on a moot point. Szangolies could only point to a DQC1 that is not yet based on entanglement which, if I recall correctly, corresponds to the situation about two decades ago. Others said a lot by saying nothing.

The mentioned hope was theoretically confirmed by Bell. In discussions at FQXi, McEachern gave a completely documented MATLAB simulation with a result that looks at least similar to the result by Traill. McEachern was perhaps deeply disappointed because peers and admins like John Baez simply rejected it. He decided to not participate in the contest this year.

Best,

Eckard

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Wolfgang Baer wrote on Jan. 23, 2018 @ 02:01 GMT
dear Karen Krowther,

This is certainly a good question and I'm glad you have addressed it.

Should your criteria for fundamental not also include some measure of completeness? I mean one can certainly define a self contained mathematical structure or in the case of the Standard Model a theory that eventually explains all experimental results. However does the theory answer all questions of our human condition?

As Edington's Fish Story points out, the most fundamental will eventually be the construction and methodology of out inquiry?

Thank you for writing this essay

Wolfgang Baer

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Jan. 28, 2018 @ 12:17 GMT
Dear Wolfgang Baer,

Thank you for your comments. Yes, I argue that completeness is achieved in principle, by three conditions: 1. UV-completeness, 2. level-comprehensiveness, and 3. the assumption that results for all lower-energy physics can be derived, in principle, from the fundamental theory. But, to what extent this assumption 3 is justified, and how it should be interpreted, is something I have left open – in fact, I am very sceptical of it myself. I don’t think such a theory will answer all the questions we have about the universe, or about the human condition, or even about physics at larger distance scales. Much of my work concerns the question of “emergence”, but for the purposes of this essay, I neglected such issues.

I am intrigued by your question about the fundamental eventually being the construction and methodology of our inquiry… Thanks, I will think about this. Perhaps you have more to say on that point?

Best regards,

Karen

Bookmark and Share


Donald G Palmer replied on Feb. 11, 2018 @ 14:23 GMT
Hi Karen & Wolfgang,

It is interesting to consider if physical theories are susceptible to limits in Logic - such as Godel Incompleteness. If physical theories are based upon logic, then they may also be limited as to their ability to provide a complete logical explanation.

Don

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Wayne R Lundberg replied on Feb. 11, 2018 @ 21:00 GMT
Karen, all,

It is dangerous to use the word "completeness" in the context of Physics, since Godel proved that, per Hilbert's definition of the word, it is impossible.

Better to seek "consistency" (her 4th condition), which can only be achieved with a finitary mathematical system (Takeuti). This of course requires that all singularities be eliminated.

Thus begins a search for a finite representation geometry for QC/ED, which includes many ideas including a string... and eventually find that a closed band suffices.

Wayne Lundberg

https://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/3092

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Peter Jackson wrote on Jan. 23, 2018 @ 17:54 GMT
Dear Karen,

Very well done. Interesting idea, nicely framed & constructed. You soundly argued the grounds for digging and presenting the conditions to stop. But don't you think it may just be for a tea break, and we may then be back to work again on infinite time etc?

I was surprised to find the SM classified as 'a Theory'. I don't mean I'm wedded to it but not sure it qualified!) . I was also surprised to find Special Relativity and QM sidelined, but it was interesting, refreshing and educating to consider from that different viewpoint. We do all learn different physics, or learn it differently, after all (and unlike many I don't insist my own worldview is correct!)

Do you think we'll evolve the intellectual capacity to understand a complete TOE? If a computer needs to be the size of the universe to predict it's future might our brains not need to be rather larger to hold the data?

My own essay suggests that with a little more complexity some things get simpler. Two more momenta identified in OAM seem to remove weirdness (meeting one of your requirements if correct) and the bar for unity with SR. I hope you'll read and analyse (alongside Declan Trail's with the maths code.)

I think yours hit all the scoring criteria well so I have it down for a top score. We share a few concepts, neither of us propound some unfalsifiable theory, and I agree your flexible conclusions.

Very nice job.

Peter

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 6, 2018 @ 20:03 GMT
Dear Peter,

Thanks very much for reading and commenting on my essay. I usually tend to think of the standard model as a collection of theories, but since it can be written as a single Lagrangian, it seems more usual to call it a theory (even if it is non-unified and rather inelegant one!) I also explored general relativity and quantum field theory instead of special relativity and quantum mechanics, because the latter are held to be less-fundamental than the former (SR being a special case of GR, and QFT being a combination of QM and SR).

If we are talking about a TOE in the sense of a complete theory valid at the most fundamental level, as I do in the essay, then yes I think it is potentially within our power to formulate and understand such a theory. However, if you mean actually using such a theory to get results about everything (i.e., physics at all scales), then this is most certainly not possible. As you say, it would require some incredible level of computational power. In the essay, I used the assumption that it is possible "in principle" but, in honestly, I don't believe that -- in fact, I can't even make sense of such a statement.

Thanks again,

Karen

Bookmark and Share


Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 6, 2018 @ 20:45 GMT
Sorry for the formatting in that post. The small "n"s that appear out of place at the start of some sentences were supposed to be new lines. I don't know why that happened, or how to fix it now!

Bookmark and Share


Donald G Palmer replied on Feb. 11, 2018 @ 14:34 GMT
Dear Karen & Peter,

How could a TOE, that could not present all levels of scale be considered a TOE? Physics seems to have so constricted it's area of applicability, to this or that level, as to no longer cover what a TOE should.

A Theory of Everything should be of Everything, no matter the scale or arena of applicability. Physics appears to no longer strive for such a theory - since it would "require some incredible level of computational power."

Maybe the limitations physics is hitting are not philosophical or experimental, but mathematical. Maybe we do not have the tools needed to cover casual affects that cross between all levels of scale. Maybe this is where further investigation in needed.

Don

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


DIOGENES AYBAR wrote on Jan. 25, 2018 @ 15:50 GMT
Dear Karen;

Throughout your postulates it can be seen that you are assuming as absolutely valid the reductionist approach. From many angles (epistemologically, methodologically -Bell’s theorem-, and experimentally –double slit experiment, entanglement experiments, etc.) it has been shown that this approach is not appropriate for any TOE.

I like your list of the conditions a physical theory should comply with in order to be considered fundamental; but you are only applying it to the current paradigms applied by the mains stream physics. Mainstream physics is plagued with ill defined fundamental concepts (space, distance, time, mater, etc.) and lacks epistemological and ontological foundation (it is full of contradictions and paradoxes). As a philosopher surely you are very aware of it.

I invite you to check the critique and proposed solutions I make to these problems in my essay “What is Fundamental”. I hope that with your background you would make good contribution to the discussion.

Truly yours;

Diogenes

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 6, 2018 @ 20:42 GMT
Dear Diogenes,

Thanks very much for your comments. Yes, in the essay I assume that it is possible "in principle" to derive results valid at larger length-scales from theories formulated at shorter length-scales. This is one sense of reductionism, but it is not one that necessarily conflicts with the possibly of emergent phenomena, particularly the examples you mention.

Yes, I agree that there are many ill-defined concepts in mainstream physics, and I believe that part of my job is to help clarify these where needed (though being ill-defined is not always a bad thing, nor something that can in all cases be fixed). In this essay, though, I decided to work with the mainstream perspectives (this is also why I used the reductionist assumption, in spite of finding it problematic myself) --- this was partly for reasons of simplicity and accessibility for a short essay, but also because I wanted a better understanding of them. My aim next (i.e., my current project) is to critique these conditions (particularly their motivations, and consequences for other principles) from a philosophical standpoint.

Best,

Karen

Bookmark and Share


Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 6, 2018 @ 21:15 GMT
Sorry for the formatting in that post. The small "n"s that appear out of place at the start of some sentences were supposed to be new lines. I don't know why that happened, or how to fix it now!

Bookmark and Share



Luca Valeri wrote on Jan. 26, 2018 @ 16:42 GMT
Dear Karen,

I liked your essay and I think it is a nice idea for this essay contest to make a list for of necessary conditions for a theory to be fundamental. I have some questions and remarks.

I also always thought, that a fundamental theory must be non-perturbative. But I never had a clear justification for that. And in my current essay - very implicitly - I doubt, that a fundamental theory can be non-perturbative for the following reason: fundamental concepts can only be defined in a free theory. This seems to be true for Newtons laws, where the laws are valid only if a system is moving relative to an inertial system. But the definition of the inertial system itself is only possible by postulating the force free laws for it. (This may lead to a conventionalism à la Poincaré.)

Similarly in Quantum field theory, where the fundamental concepts are the free particles, which can only be defined in a free theory. So that the theory of interaction necessarily must be perturbative. Or not?

Another obvious condition for a fundamental theory is: empirical adequacy. Why did you leave this out? To evident? To unproblematic? Or to complicated to discuss?

I think this is not simple. Can a fundamental theory define itself its observable consequences? Or must observational statements be independent of the fundamental theory in order for the for the fundamental to be falsifiable? In my essay I show that in any fundamental theory that has some realistic elements, there are conventional Elements. And that what is an empirical statement and what is a definition is not given by the theory itself.

Best regards,

Luca

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 6, 2018 @ 21:14 GMT
Dear Luca,

Thanks very much for your comments! That's an interesting idea, that a fundamental theory cannot describe interactions. I will have to think about that, but there are simple systems with interactions that can be described without requiring perturbation theory.

In regards to empirical adequacy, I did not think this to be a condition of fundamentality but a requirement for a theory in order that it be considered scientific at all. And, as I mention at the top of page 8, I take it for granted in the essay that we are considering only scientific theories. This saves me from having to explore the problem of demarcation in science, which is too complicated to discuss in a short essay! As you say, too, the issue of connecting theory with observation is certainly not a straightforward one.

Best,

Karen

Bookmark and Share


Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 6, 2018 @ 21:16 GMT
Sorry for the formatting in that post. The small "n"s that appear out of place at the start of some sentences were supposed to be new lines. I don't know why that happened, or how to fix it now!

Bookmark and Share


Luca Valeri replied on Feb. 8, 2018 @ 09:16 GMT
Hi Karen,

I do not think, that a fundamental theory cannot describe interactions. On the contrary. But fundamental concept like mass, spin, momentum etc. are only defined in the free theory. Only if the meaning/definitions of these concepts are given, one can define, what interaction is. For instance force is something, that changes the momentum. I think that was Poincaré’s view. Then whether given specific initial conditions, there exist a non perdurbative solution of the equations depends on the symmetry of that configuration. But I do not think that whether such a solution exists or not can be a criteria for a theory to be fundamental. But that might not be, what you intended to say.

By the way I would be glad, if you could find the time to read and comment on my essay: The quantum sheep - in defense of a positivist view on physics

Best regards,

Luca

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Paul Knott wrote on Jan. 31, 2018 @ 17:14 GMT
Dear Karen,

Excellent essay -- a pleasure to read! And you hit the nail right on the head regarding the question "What is fundamental?".

The "Natural (no “fine-tuning” of parameters)" criteria is interesting. Sure, we might desire a fundamental theory to not contain fine-tuned parameters. But what if, by sheer bad luck, the universe happens to contain such parameters -- such a theory might be unsatisfactory but this doesn't seem like a good reason to rule it out?

Best regards,

Paul

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 6, 2018 @ 21:39 GMT
Dear Paul, Thanks very much! Yes, I agree the idea of naturalness is an interesting one for the reason you mention -- it may be desirable to have a theory that doesn't require fine-tuning, but we can't rule out the possibility that, at the fundamental level, we have a theory that is "unnatural". This is true of several of the requirements, including -- most obviously -- those of unification, and "no weirdness". It's very possible that, fundamentally, the world is described by an unsettling, non-unified theory. And yet, if we arrive at a theory that doesn't fulfil these conditions, then we will keep digging for a more satisfactory one. So, actually, it's possible that we have a final theory and yet continue to search in vain for something more. That's an interesting consequence of the epistemic worry that I hadn't considered, so thanks for that. Best, Karen

Bookmark and Share


Paul Knott replied on Feb. 7, 2018 @ 11:19 GMT
Thanks for your reply – I completely agree with what you've said here! Best, Paul

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Lawrence B. Crowell wrote on Jan. 31, 2018 @ 22:14 GMT
Your essay is a reasonable overview of the questions related to quantum gravity. My only disagreement might be with the issue of weirdness. Quantum mechanics, and I mean plain vanilla QM, is in many ways very weird. Quantum gravity is likely to have a lot of very strange features.

I suspect we may never come up with a completely fundamental quantum gravity that is not on some level an EFT. The Planck length is the shortest length that a quantum bit may be identified, at least in principle. We may be able to arrive at a reasonable quantum gravity close to the Planck scale. The reason for this is that quantum gravity may have close identification with the quantum measurement problem.

Quantum measurement ultimately involves a set of quantum states that encode the quantum states of a system. The occurrence of a classical stable state in the outcome of decoherence is something quantum mechanics is not able to compute. It may be that this process is a form of Godel loop or self-referential system of states encoding states. This then leads to the problem in mathematics of propositions that are true but unprovable. For quantum mechanics it might similarly mean there exist states, such as classically stable states and observed measurements, that are true but not provable by quantum mechanical "computers."

The issues with quantum information and black holes may ultimately reflect something similar. I suspect it could be that quantum gravity as a fundamental theory is not derivable or computable in any formal way.

I offer in my essay what I suspect is an effective theory, and in fact make various approximations, that might result in measurable outcomes in gravitational wave experiments. What is fundamental in the end is just what your feet stand on at the lowest level at the time.

Cheers LC

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 6, 2018 @ 22:03 GMT
Dear Lawrence B. Crowell, Thanks very much. Your comments touch on several interesting issues. Yes, I wonder about the no weirdness requirement, too, and am still not certain of its inclusion or interpretation. But, the idea generally expressed is that QM is not fundamental, precisely because of its weirdness. Many people (most prominently Penrose) argue that a more fundamental theory is necessary in order to solve these issues, particularly the measurement problem. Quantum gravity, although the moniker suggests otherwise, need not -- and probably, in fact, can not -- be a quantum theory in the usual sense. One reason is because quantum theories utilise space and time, and these are to be modified in quantum gravity. So, another reason why quantum mechanics is supposed to be non-fundamental is because of the expectation of the necessity of QG. If QG contains similar weird features, then this will push people to seek a more-fundamental theory, in turn. But, that said, you are right that QG is likely to be weird! The ideas of a shortest length scale and a shortest time scale are extremely difficult ones -- as is the possibility of formulating a theory that describes a non-spatiotemporal regime. Your suggestion that QG be an EFT valid "close to" this regime, is interesting, too. We would have to think more about the issue of UV completeness in this case. Best, Karen

Bookmark and Share



peter cameron wrote on Feb. 2, 2018 @ 19:09 GMT
Hello Karen,

Downloaded your essay, browsing it now, commenting on the passing scenery.

Like your application of concept of inversion to non-fundamentals of mainstream physics. Important attribute of Clifford algebra is that it is invertible. If one is a fan of the geometric interpretation of the Hestenes community, then one would expect the invertibility to be easily visualized....

view entire post


Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 14, 2018 @ 19:38 GMT
Hi Peter,

Thanks very much! I'm embarrassed to say that I had not heard of Hestenes before, so I'm glad you mentioned his work, it indeed seems very interesting. I'll read up more and see how it can apply to my work, as you suggest. Sorry I'm not sure how to answer your question, though. Will reply to your other post now, too.

Best,

Karen

Bookmark and Share



adel sadeq wrote on Feb. 3, 2018 @ 13:39 GMT
Dear Karen

Very nice essay and direct to the point, no heavy philosophizing and repeating arguments that has been heard a million times.

I said this in my essay which essentially what you have said

" This structure had to be simple, basic but showed all the present physics in a clear and COHERENT way. That is, what are space, time, mass, charge, spin, interaction and most of all why the electron, the proton and “photons” exist. They should be interrelated aspects of a fundamental system."

My idea takes into account all the requirements that you mention

https://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/3127

Thank you.

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 14, 2018 @ 19:37 GMT
Dear Adel,

Thank you!

I think your quote here captures the requirements that a fundamental theory be simple and that it be explanatory (additionally, the quote suggests how the theory should be explanatory), maybe also the requirement that the theory be self-consistent. I did not explicitly have the requirements of 'being simple' and 'being explanatory' as criteria in my list, although several of the criteria may be related to simplicity (e.g., unification, uniqueness, no-weirdness), and all of them are based on the principle that a fundamental theory not leave anything that apparently requires explanation.

I like your idea that a fundamental theory should explain current physics, I think that is certainly desirable, and unfortunately not something that I discussed enough in my essay.

There are also criteria on my list that I think are not captured by your quote here, though. I will have to read the rest of your essay.

Best,

Karen

Bookmark and Share



Branko L Zivlak wrote on Feb. 3, 2018 @ 17:42 GMT
Dear Karen,

All of your 9 conditions are very real.

Among all the essays without mathematics, you are among the best.

My essay is tied to Plank's units. I would like you to tell me what conditions do not satisfy my views in the essay.

With best wishes,

Branko

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 14, 2018 @ 19:34 GMT
Dear Branko,

Thank you! OK, I am interested in the heuristic role of the Planck units, so I will try to have a look at your essay. But what do you think, does your approach satisfy these conditions?

Best,

Karen

Bookmark and Share



Conrad Dale Johnson wrote on Feb. 5, 2018 @ 18:53 GMT
Dear Karen,

Your contribution to our motley collection of essays here is much needed. You give a clearer picture than most physicists could give of what they’re looking for in a fundamental theory, and I think it’s important to understand how little clarity there is about this. To me what’s most striking about physics is how much our current theories can explain about the world,...

view entire post


Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 14, 2018 @ 19:34 GMT
Dear Conrad,

Thanks very much! I'm really happy to hear that there are people out there finding my work useful!

Yes, thanks, I had wanted to bring in some discussion of emergence from that paper for the essay, or at least mention it, but couldn't manage it in the end. So, I'm glad you discovered the paper, as well as the book, and can advertise them here!

I'm intrigued by your arguments regarding unification and naturalness, especially since I'm very interested in better understanding the definitions of each, their motivations and implications myself (I'm quite suspicious of them, in spite of their apparently being so central to the business of physics!), so I'll certainly take a look at your essay when I can.

Thanks again,

Karen

Bookmark and Share



Mozibur Rahman Ullah wrote on Feb. 7, 2018 @ 11:40 GMT
Dear Karen

Its nice to read an essay about physics that explores the issues without dragging in mathematics - not that I have anything against mathematics - I trained as one. But I do feel the essay ought to be about words and a pleasure to read and I very much enjoyed reading your essay. I'm glad that you pointed out that QFT = QM + relativity as that particular point is not made often enough and it does show that progress has been made in integrating our two most fundamental physical theories. Congratulations on an informative essay!

Best Wishes

Mozibur Ullah

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Mozibur Rahman Ullah replied on Feb. 7, 2018 @ 11:43 GMT
It seems that the site slightly mangles up the formatting of posts by removing linebreaks for some reason.

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 14, 2018 @ 19:32 GMT
Dear Mozibur Ullah,

Thanks very much! Yes, I agree, I love mathematics too, but an essay is an essay, and I wanted to make it as accessible as possible. I'm glad you enjoyed reading it.

Yes, you're right that it's easy sometimes for people to forget the origins of QFT. Certainly it is a very successful step towards unifying our most fundamental theories---and, indeed, the most successful framework for physics that we have! And yet it has so many conceptual and theoretical difficulties. Also, it's interesting now to explore how QFT in curved spacetime can give insight into a greater unification of QM with GR, and approximate quantum gravity.

Thanks again,

Karen

Bookmark and Share



Don Limuti wrote on Feb. 10, 2018 @ 08:57 GMT
Hi Karen,

I like very much your formalism for determining whether a theory is fundamental. It is a high gate to jump over. I believe modern physics does not clear it.

I have a theory of quantum gravity that I believe is easy-peasy. Would you take a look at my theory and see if it clears the gate? I have looked at your credentials and think you can easily "grok" what I propose.

Visit my essay "The thing that is space-time" and give me your opinion on if it clear the gate. I'm interested in what you really think (or feel)...not looking for mutual admiration :)

It was refreshing to read a practical approach to fundamentality.

Thanks,

Don Limuti

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 14, 2018 @ 19:30 GMT
Dear Don Limuti,

Thank you! OK I will try to have a look at your essay when I can, and let you know whether or not I agree that it's easy-peasy ;)

Best,

Karen

Bookmark and Share



Terry Bollinger wrote on Feb. 11, 2018 @ 16:29 GMT
Professor Crowther,

First, my essay contestant pledge: goo.gl/KCCujt

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your essay! Positive aspects include:

-- Your razor-sharp focus on answering the FQXi essay question, as opposed to simply using the contest an excuse to propose a personal pet theory of physics. I note with admiration that since with Dean Rickles you have in the past...

view entire post


Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 14, 2018 @ 19:29 GMT
Dear Terry Bollinger,

Thanks very much for taking the time to read and vote on my essay, and to provide useful feedback; I really appreciate it. I also greatly appreciate your voting pledge, and will strive to implement it myself more consistently.

Yes, the contest's question drew me in so I used it as an opportunity to explore some new ideas, and to understand issues surrounding...

view entire post


Bookmark and Share


Terry Bollinger replied on Feb. 16, 2018 @ 03:54 GMT
Karen,

Thank you for your most gracious and informative response! I would have added this reply earlier, but I don’t seem to get any kind of notification from FQXi when someone replies on anything except my own essay thread. I had to search manually for my own name, essay by essay to find responses. Argh! I must be missing something?

You are very generous about my critique points,...

view entire post


Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Conrad Dale Johnson replied on Feb. 16, 2018 @ 16:35 GMT
Terry -- if you're logged in, you can subscribe to any thread by clicking the button near the top of the page. Then you'll get notifications of any new posts in that thread.

I think your comments about "lumpines" are interesting and connect with the theme of my essay -- but I'll look at your essay first, and comment there.

Conrad

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Wayne R Lundberg wrote on Feb. 11, 2018 @ 21:19 GMT
Dear Karen,

Your essay, and many of the comments given, were an enjoyable read which summarizes the frustrations of modern theorists... from differing perspectives.

Very well-written, and it provides 9 clear conditions which, when met, will convince the community of a 'theoretical discovery'. So I rated it very highly.

But my insights and investigations indicate that there are mathematically more formal criteria, which, fully considered, yield a comprehensive theory. In fact they are fewer, as they specify that the theory replicate known successful aspects of existing theory.

Foremost is that it be a causal theory for consistency with GR.

It must use a finite representation geometry to be consistent (no singularities, non-renormalizeble).

The universe is the sum of its particles, so for consistency, the form of the formulae representing each must be the same (as in NBWF).

It must replicate QC/ED particles and interactions when evaluated at their respective space-time scales.

It must replicate GR when evaluated at cosmological scales at the present time.

Note the importance of "evaluated at", which means use of "|" at any physical space-time scale. In particular, an intuitive leap is REQUIRED, since information is lost about the foundational formula when either QFT or GR is derived via |.

I look forward to your comments, best regards,

Wayne Lundberg

https://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/3092

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Wayne R Lundberg replied on Feb. 11, 2018 @ 21:27 GMT
p.s. The simple answer to your question "When do we stop digging?" has more to do with the cost-benefit of experiments. In particular, I note that the discovery of Higgs at SM mass has excluded ALL other fundamental particles from consideration to -5.5 sigma. If CERN/LHC were to collect more detailed data about Higgs, they could achieve -6 sigma, reaching their own criteria to stop searching. At least 'stop digging' in the high-enefrgy direction... some claim that high-luminosity e-,e+ LINACs have more to reveal.

I have also long used the words "beneath" the Std Model, rather than "beyond" because it is the foundation upon which it is built which needs work.

Wayne

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 15, 2018 @ 14:25 GMT
Dear Wayne,

Thanks very much!

In regards to your mathematically formal criteria, I'm interested in what you mean by causality and how you define it? (If you're importing the notion from GR, you mean that you have a spacetime, and that it shares the same topological and metrical structure as GR spacetime? Or something less than this?)

Also, I'm assuming by "non-renormalisable" as a criterion, you mean a theory that doesn't require regularisation, rather than that it actually be non-renormalisaable (because that would mean it has infinities)?

But I'm most interested in what you mean by when you say that the theory must "replicate [older theory] when evaluated at [relevant length scale]", because this is a large part of my own research (which I regret that I didn't have opportunity to include in my essay, due to the various constraints on it). You mean that the older theories should be derivable from the new one, under some relevant conditions, I gather?

And yes, agree with your practical point, that we may stop digging when the cost (whether in terms of energy, time, or money, etc.) is estimated to be greater than the anticipated rewards of continuing beyond a certain point. But of course that's a response to a different interpretation of the question (or perhaps under different assumptions) than what I adopted here.

Best,

Karen

Bookmark and Share


Wayne R Lundberg replied on Feb. 17, 2018 @ 16:38 GMT
Karen,

My essay leads off with a discussion of causality, in which I refer to

1. J.B. Hartle, S.W. Hawking and T. Hertog, “The Classical Universes of the No-Boundary Quantum State” hep-th/0803.1663v1 March 2008. which formulates a causal particle (lacking QC/ED) and

2. N. Seiberg, L. Susskind and N. Toumbas, “Space/Time Non-Commutivity and Causality”,...

view entire post


Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Avtar Singh wrote on Feb. 12, 2018 @ 16:03 GMT
Hi Karen:

I agree with your statement_ "More generally, if a theory is not internally consistent, or relies on approximations, physicists tend to believe that this is a symptom of there being something missing—some physics that the theory fails to take into account."

I would like to draw your attention to 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.

Best Regards

Avtar Singh

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 15, 2018 @ 14:34 GMT
Dear Avtar,

Thank you. Your paper sounds interesting, particularly the potentially empirical aspects.

Best,

Karen

Bookmark and Share



peter cameron wrote on Feb. 12, 2018 @ 16:09 GMT
Karen,

I'd posted earlier, was hoping for a reply before commenting further, but unfortunately no further replies have appeared, starting with my post.

So here's my take on your nine requirements as viewed from the perspective of the geometric wavefunction interactions GWI model Michaele and I present in our essay, with details there if you're interested:

1. Unifi ed - yes. Four fundamental forces are seen as one in the GWI model

2. Unique - uniqueness proofs are difficult. How does one show that the same physics cannot be described by a different model?

3. UV complete (nothing beyond" formally) - The model appears valid at the Planck length, and beyond to the singularity.

4. Non-perturbative (exactly solvable) - yes

5. Internally consistent (well-de ned formally, with no problematic singularities) - yes

6. Level comprehensive (no gaps and no overlap" in description at the scales that the theory is required in order to describe) - In QFT one is permitted (and required) to define but one fundamental length. In the GWI model that length is take to be the Compton wavelength. It appears that the model is valid at all length scales.

7. Background independent (no fixed structures across all models of the theory) - yes. GWI model is background independent.

8. Natural (no ne-tuning" of parameters) - yes. Requires only five fundamental constants input by hand (one of which is electron Compton wavelength), no free parameters.

9. Not weird - durn. Ya got me on this one. What's the fun of that? How about if it is the dual of not weird, plus the inversion. Very very weird.

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 14, 2018 @ 19:53 GMT
Thanks again, and sorry for the delayed response. Haven't yet read the essay, but this sounds good to me!

In regards to uniqueness... I knew I picked the wrong word here, because of its different uses, but struggled to think of a better one! But, the idea is supposed to be that we have just a single theory, as in alone -- rather than being the only possible theory. So, your model may satisfy this criterion, after all, I think.

As you say, it's difficult to see how we could establish that a given model is the only possible one able to describe the physics. I'm not sure if the problem of underdetermination can be solved -- however, Dawid's book is an extensive argument trying to demonstrate the limitations on theoretical underdetermination (I am still trying to work through his arguments, though).

In regards to "not weird" haha! well, this is the one I am not so sure of myself. I was mainly thinking of it as a response to the general frustration surrounding the measurement problem.... but now I realise that may have more to do with how the theory links back to observations, rather than the weirdness apparently described by QM. Maybe we can be OK with fundamental weirdness if everything else is satisfied, and the weirdness is inherent? I guess it depends on how otherwise happy people are with the approach, whether they'll tolerate some weirdness for its other virtues, or whether they'll keep searching for something else (even if in vain).

Bookmark and Share


peter cameron replied on Feb. 19, 2018 @ 22:21 GMT
ok, think i get where you're coming from re uniqueness - as opposed to many EFTs needed to cover all length/energy scales?

a different kind of uniqueness from trying to prove no other equivalent model exists.

re weirdness, did you look at our essay yet? It might relieve some of your concerns regarding interpretations of wavefunctions and their interactions. The geometric algebra gives a wavefunction that is simple and intuitive, can be visualized. Take a look. I think you'll like it.

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Peter Bauch wrote on Feb. 12, 2018 @ 19:26 GMT
Dear Dr. Crowther,

I don't mean to be picky, but on page 5 you say the Planck scale is 10^-32cm. Should it not be 10^-33cm? I'm sure you meant millimeters (I hate when that happens). If this essay wins a prize (which I think it's deserving of) and goes into a book that should probably be amended.

Cheers,

Peter

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 14, 2018 @ 19:56 GMT
Dear Peter,

Thanks very much!

ooops!10 ^- 33 cm yes you're right, thanks for pointing it out!

Best,

Karen

Bookmark and Share



Gary Valentine Hansen wrote on Feb. 12, 2018 @ 21:03 GMT
Dear Karen.

Thank you for your stimulating contribution. It’s a long way to Tipperary!

My London publisher calls me a philosopher though I didn’t earn this epithet formally. Neither am I a physicist. I am simply attracted to both disciplines because of their all-inclusive presumptions. So I feel quite comfortable in discussing ethereal subjects with you.

I have always loved the essay form as a means by which to clarify my thoughts on any subject that is too complex to organize clearly in my head.

While the goals of the Essay Contest are intended to ‘Encourage and support rigorous, innovative, and influential thinking about foundational questions in physics and cosmology’; one cannot reasonably expect to define what constitutes a fundamental principle or part until one has clearly identified a context within which one can then proceed with the search. Understanding this contingent requirement necessarily admits the prospect of there being as many ‘fundamentals’ as there are contexts within which one can proceed.

We should bear in mind that theories derive from subjective points of view. When we attempt to consolidate theories into a single unifying theory-of-everything we drastically compromise the essential (i.e. fundamental) merits of contributing theories.

However, the FQXi question: What is “Fundamental?” invites a singular response; otherwise the question would be framed: What are “Fundamental?” The only exception to that interpretation is to respond to the FQXi question with the answer: ‘Yes’

Thus I have been led to search for a singular fundamental prerequisite that embraces all-there-is – and that is all there is to it! 

Thanks again, and good luck with this and all your endeavours.

Gary.

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 15, 2018 @ 15:00 GMT
Dear Gary,

Thank you!

I am similar, I find I can only fully understand things, or work out my own arguments, by writing (though it's not always essay form!)

Yes, I agree that there may be many different conceptions of fundamentality, depending on different contexts. For this exercise, I explicitly chose to write from the perspective of high-energy physics, and certainly do not mean to imply that such an account is appropriate for other contexts, or that it is the only perspective on offer. In fact, I am more inclined towards "emergentist" accounts (e.g., those offered by condensed matter theorists), where what is fundamental is scale-dependent, so I agree that much is lost when we consider only a single fundamental "theory of everything" (you may like to see some of my published work on emergence).

However, the FQXi question: What is “Fundamental?” invites a singular response; otherwise the question would be framed: What are “Fundamental?” The only exception to that interpretation is to respond to the FQXi question with the answer: ‘Yes’

I'm sorry, but I don't really understand what you're saying here. I read the question as asking about the meaning of the word "fundamental", as in, what it means for something to be fundamental. I don't see how that requires just a one-condition answer? It's just that they are only asking about one word. And what is the interpretation of the question that could be answered by "Yes"?

Best regards, and good luck to you too,

Karen

Bookmark and Share


Gary Valentine Hansen replied on Feb. 26, 2018 @ 23:25 GMT
Dear Karen,

A belated answer to your bottom line question; 'What is the interpretation of the question that could be answered by "Yes"?'

My answer is that when the question is read as a literal statement of fact requiring confirmation, either the word 'What' is fundamental or it is not. Hence the alternative 'one word' answer is either 'Yes' or 'No'.

Since you didn't respond on my essay page, I am wondering whether you rated my essay. There is something 'going on' on the closing day for the acceptance of essays that suggests that some authors are drastically low-ranking the essays of others in the expectation that they may benefit as a result. If you didn't rank my essay, could you kindly do so, hopefully to return my rank to its former 'high tide' position of 6.8?

Again, you carry my best wishes as you move forward into the sunshine, the final phase of the contest, and far beyond.

Gary.

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Cristinel Stoica wrote on Feb. 13, 2018 @ 13:53 GMT
Dear Karen,

Your essay is great! You characterized perfectly the criteria that determine when we can stop digging. There is nothing to add. The essay is also excellently written, with clear explanations.

What I can say more about this may be only a matter of personal taste. I want to make some points that even if QFT and GR may not survive as they presently are in the final theory,...

view entire post


Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 16, 2018 @ 14:50 GMT
Dear Cristi,

Thank you!

Yes, for my own research on quantum gravity (which I don't necessarily interpret as a candidate final theory, though) I am very interested in understanding not just the form of the new theory (to what extent, and how, it retains features of GR and QFT), but what aspects of GR and QFT are to be ``recovered'' from it in the relevant domains, and how. So I am...

view entire post


Bookmark and Share


Cristinel Stoica replied on Feb. 18, 2018 @ 08:42 GMT
Dear Karen,

Thank you very much for the answers and comments, and for the references, which I didn't know and I think are relevant.

You said "So I understand your suggestion as being that the key to finding a more fundamental theory is to first find the "true" formulations of our current theories?"

Yes. I think we should extract the true lessons and to rethink the assumptions...

view entire post


Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Thomas Howard Ray wrote on Feb. 13, 2018 @ 21:39 GMT
Hi Karen,

An almost encyclopedic treatment. A couple of things, though. You prescribe conditions for theories, but you left out the premise of a unified spacetime -- " ... independent in its physical properties, having a physical effect but not itself affected by physical conditions." ~ Einstein, The Meaning of Relativity .

If, as you admit space and time are fundamental, why is not spacetime more fundamental?

Nevertheless, good essay.

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

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 16, 2018 @ 15:35 GMT
Hi Thomas,

Thanks for you comment. I'm afraid, though, that there are some misunderstandings here.

Firstly, no, I don't actually argue that space and time are fundamental, and I'm sorry that the opening lines of my essay may give that impression. In these, where I say that QFT describes all the fundamental forces, and that space and time are surely the most fundamental entities imaginable, I am just "setting the scene", as it were. I used the word "imaginable", and that is the key qualifier here: For most people (except when on psychedelics) it is nigh impossible to imagine anything without picturing it "in" space and time. This is a problem when trying to formulate and conceptualise QG theories without spacetime, too -- because of our limitations as human beings, we still rely on spatiotemporal means of presentation, for instance.

If you read the rest of the essay, you'd see that it presents several arguments why QFT and GR are not considered fundamental --- and, hence, why the "fundamental" forces, and spacetime, are not actually to be considered fundamental either.

Secondly, the quote by Einstein that you cite is exactly the (or, really, one) definition of background dependence. It is not a desirable condition. Einstein did not want a spacetime like this, so I think you have misinterpreted his paper, too. It's a very well-known fact that Einstein's desire to overcome this very feature as thoroughly as possible was key to the discovery of GR, with its characteristic feature of general covariance, i.e., background independence. As you see in my own essay, I take background independence as a condition on a fundamental theory, and give arguments for this.

Bookmark and Share


Thomas Howard Ray replied on Feb. 17, 2018 @ 03:13 GMT
Karen,

No misunderstanding. Surely it is not true that "For most people (except when on psychedelics) it is nigh impossible to imagine anything without picturing it 'in' space and time." Mathematicians do it routinely, straight and high, and describe it besides. You must not have studied topology.

That quote is from The Meaning of Relativity, Princeton paperback, fifth edition, 1956 p.55, and completely in context. In fact, how dare you. Einstein based general relativity on Mach's principle (a term he coined) and couldn't make it work because there are no isolated systems (which would constitute a background, in your terms).

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 18, 2018 @ 14:28 GMT
Hi Thomas,

You're right of course that we can think about and discuss abstract non-spatiotemporal properties and entities; I suppose I meant "imagine" in a more vivid sense, of picturing things. I will amend this in the next version of the essay, thank you.

I didn't say you'd misquoted Einstein. But I apologise for the tone of my last response, and for not backing up my statements. Here is a reference to a relevant paper by a well-respected Einstein scholar: https://www.pitt.edu/~jdnorton/papers/Fateful_Prejudice_Fina
l.pdf

Your quote is discussed in Section 3.4 (pp. 48-50), which talks about Einstein's lifelong objections to absolute properties (i.e., those of absolute space you cite), and his frustration that special relativity privileged particular reference frames (and thus possessed some of these objectionable absolute properties).

Bookmark and Share



Heinrich Luediger wrote on Feb. 15, 2018 @ 12:17 GMT
Dear Karen,

just wondering how much sense it would have made if Ptolemy had defined the conditions for a more fundamental universe…

Heinrich

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 16, 2018 @ 16:06 GMT
Dear Heinrich,

Do you mean that current physics is so wrong in one of its central assumptions, that any speculations about future physics, made from our current flawed perspective, are futile?

Karen

Bookmark and Share


Heinrich Luediger replied on Feb. 19, 2018 @ 09:42 GMT
Dear Karin,

Yes, for the reason that physics has taken to predicting pointer positions from which it conjures up sociologically desirable 'worlds'. Your essay reminds me of the trend in many sciences to deal with secondaries like methodology and the definition of what would count as progress and what it is supposed to look like.

Since Feyerabend we know that Everything Goes (provided it goes), because otherwise we logically overdetermine the problem and thereby prevent any solution. In other words, physics got stuck in the analytical abracadabra of pseudo-empirism.

Heinrich

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Jochen Szangolies wrote on Feb. 15, 2018 @ 16:22 GMT
Dear Karen,

you've produced an interesting list of conditions for fundamentality (fundamentalness?). Your argumentation is exceptionally clear and down to the point, and you present your points in an enormously comprehensible way that nevertheless never runs the danger of leaving out something important.

I have one question, though, regarding the need for unification: it seems...

view entire post


Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 16, 2018 @ 17:41 GMT
Dear Jochen,

Thanks very much!

Yes, I completely agree with your comments regarding unification.

The question I sought to answer was just, "What features must a theory possess if it were to possibly convince high-energy physics (by its own current lights) to stop digging for a more fundamental one?" So, yes, it's very possible that such conditions not actually conform to the world! However, given the incredible success of current physics, we like to believe that it is "on track" in its methods and constraints.

That said, yes, I am suspicious of many of the conditions I've listed here (particularly unification, uniqueness and naturalness), in spite of their apparently being so central to the enterprise of physics. I regret that I wasn't able to properly examine them in this essay, but that is the next stage of the project.

In regards to the "dictum", that "physics does and must, by its nature, assume that we are able to formulate a physical description of all phenomena" -- this was a topic of discussion when I presented this recently, and I've realised it may require rethinking. Although physics may (necessarily) hold that all phenomena have physical* explanations, it may not need to hold that we are capable of actually formulating these in all cases -- e.g., for mental processes, it doesn't seem like physics has to assume that its capable of actually writing down a model describing these. (*Reductionists might make this "microphysical")

But, in any case, I certainly didn't mean to imply that it is actually possible for us to formulate a physical description of all phenomena! Certainly it is not. But, if we are to do physics, when we sit down to solve any particular problem, we must assume that it's possible for us to solve it. Otherwise, the enterprise undermines itself.

Thanks again,

Karen

Bookmark and Share


Jochen Szangolies replied on Feb. 17, 2018 @ 11:38 GMT
Dear Karen,

thanks for the clarification---I think I had misunderstood your endeavor a little: your project is more sociological (working out what current physics does consider to be fundamental) than normative (working out what it should consider fundamental) in nature. I think I like this take better---in a sense, what we're looking for limits what we can find, so if there is some sort of systematic bias in the theories we might accept as fundamental that precludes us from formulating these theories (which is just what seems to be happening with the Higgs mass' failure to be 'natural' at the moment), we should be ready to face these biases and, if possible, remove them.

Although, as I think Putnam remarked when contemplating the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, what good is a metaphysics one can't believe? What if the world is such that if we ever were told its fundamental nature, we'd flat out not believe it? But that's really just idle speculation.

Regarding whether we can formulate all physical explanations, this recalls McGinn's distinction between 'physicalism' and 'physics-alism'---the former being the metaphysical stance that everything is, ultimately, physical in nature, and the latter the epistemological stance that everything admits of explanation in terms of the science of physics. He makes the point that the former doesn't necessarily imply the latter, and that really, we don't have much of a reason to believe the latter ought to be true, save from a certain kind of epistemic hybris. Personally, I think he's got a point there (although I probably would have vigorously rejected it when I started out studying physics).

Anyway, thanks again for your answer, it's really helped put things in focus for me!

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Stefan Weckbach wrote on Feb. 16, 2018 @ 10:39 GMT
Dear Karen and essay readers,

here are some lines of thought I would like to offer as worth thinking about them, since at least for me it seems that they are part of the problem to unequivocally answer the contest’s question at all.

The demand to stop digging is of course the result of the assumption that our best theories are not considered to be fundamental. Your approach to...

view entire post


Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Steve Dufourny wrote on Feb. 16, 2018 @ 12:23 GMT
Hello dear Karen,

I loved your relevant philosophical general essay.You have well analysed the importance for a theory of everything and the different problems to find it.

All the best, good luck

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 16, 2018 @ 17:44 GMT
Thanks very much!

Bookmark and Share



Avtar Singh wrote on Feb. 16, 2018 @ 17:50 GMT
Hi Karen:

Congratulations. Excellent paper, well-written, concise, and thoughtful covering all bases and history of physics. Really enjoyed reading and agree with most of it. I have given you the highest grade it deserves. Below are some of my thoughts on and beyond what you have presented.

What is fundamental is not a theory but the end state or physical reality it is supposed to...

view entire post


Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 17, 2018 @ 12:37 GMT
Dear Avtar,

Thank you very much!

Your idea about the fundamental being the final, zero state of the universe sounds interesting. Why the final state instead of the initial one, or are they the same? Would it be a quantum state of spacetime? Would it be subject to fluctuations?

I'll try to check your essay before the deadline, but please forgive me if I run out of time, since I have a lot to get through at the moment.

Best,

Karen

Bookmark and Share


Avtar Singh replied on Feb. 22, 2018 @ 19:16 GMT
Hi Karen:

In a fully dilated space-time, initial and final are the same Zero Point State. It is not the quantum space-time, which is the quantum vacuum that is 120 orders of magnitude higher than the Cosmological Constant state. There are no quantum fluctuations in the Zero Point State.

Regards

Avtar

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


corciovei silviu wrote on Feb. 16, 2018 @ 23:10 GMT
Nicely written, Mrs. Karen Crowther.

Read and rated. Further words are useless. Here[/link} is a related essay, if you would like to read one (more)

report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 17, 2018 @ 12:38 GMT
Thank you!

Bookmark and Share



Member Dean Rickles wrote on Feb. 16, 2018 @ 23:57 GMT
Brilliant essay Karen: best response I've read to the question, and I reckon the rightful winner.

A few of the essays argue that going "deeper" does not necessarily imply going "smaller", but your way is definitely more in line with current physics.

Cheers,

Dean

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 17, 2018 @ 12:41 GMT
Thanks, Dean!

Bookmark and Share



Scott S Gordon wrote on Feb. 17, 2018 @ 01:12 GMT
Hi Karen,

You essay lays out quite nicely what a "Fundamental theory" or possible a "Theory of Everything" must address:

• Unified;

• Unique;

• UV complete (“nothing beyond” formally);

• Non-perturbative (exactly solvable);

• Internally consistent (well-defined formally, with no problematic singularities)

The problem is that the training to become a physicists makes it highly unlikely that a physicist will find the theory of everything even though they know what a more fundamental theory has to address.

I have found a theory that checks off everything on your list. It is so unique that it requires physicists to wipe the slate completely clean before they read it... (It starts with only one ingredient and energy) If physicists try to use their current knowledge of physics (before the theory derives it) their preconcieved notions will lead them astray and not allow the new concepts to be accepted.... especially the biggest stumbling block of all, "The Ruby Slipper Conundrum".

I do not expect anyone to jump on board now but eventually it will happen - so I have put an essay into this contest for people to be exposed to the theory even though they will not give it a second thought. (The Day After the Nightmare Scenario) This essay reveals only the tip of the iceberg as it takes an entire 350 page textbook to learn the theory.

Best of luck to you - I hope you win -

Scott S Gordon, MD/Engr

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 18, 2018 @ 14:35 GMT
Dear Scott,

Thank you! And best of luck in your larger project.

Karen

Bookmark and Share



Narendra Nath wrote on Feb. 17, 2018 @ 16:33 GMT
Space and time are the concepts introduced into science by we humans in order to enable us to study nature as it is seen and sensed by us. our instruments. How can we rely upon is a question an alien may ask us!One needs to be an external observer in order to picturise the universe we live within! I wonder we talk of other verses and have been attempting Artificial Intelligence a discipline to deal with it! Reading your essay was refreshing but it made me wonder if we can go wrong in conptualising the postulates of the scienctific methodology er have adopted to study it. Is it conditioning us in some way the free will considered essential philosophy to develop innovatively any subject of study. I am in minority as an experimentalist in this context, as most scientists participating are thereticians and depend on Maths as their tool for progress in science! Can we innovate our tools of operation now? Are these the best options we have already chosen? If you find time, you may visit our very short essay of 2/3 pages and provide us your comments and rating on the same~

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 19, 2018 @ 14:16 GMT
Thanks for your comment. You raise many deep questions here that I think are most certainly deserving of further study. I agree, and often try to remind myself that space and time are just concepts we have introduced in order to describe the observed behaviour of observable entities. But it's often tempting to think of them as latching on to something more substantial, especially with the recent detection of gravitational waves, for instance. I think no human concept is absolutely infallible -- of course we could always be wrong in some sense. But our science, and the concepts and tools (including maths) it employs, is incredibly successful, and we could tell the aliens that this is our justification for relying on these concepts and tools -- they serve us well. In fact, a more general justification is that human societies have successfully utilised the concepts of spatial distances and temporal durations for millenia, and these concepts may even be part of the reason for the success of human societies, and their endurance. So, again, this is some justification, however, of course, our concepts could be "wrong" in the sense of not capturing something "real" with independent existence in the world. Of course, it is interesting to think about whether aliens or AI could employ different concepts, and indeed, different human societies have different notions of space and time, too (that differ from those that feature in physics, as well). But if you want to know which, if any, of these is "right", you will need some additional criteria over just their ability to successfully describe the world, and you will need some justification for how these additional criteria help pick out what is "correct". [Please note, I am not claiming any of this in my essay, where the criteria I list are just intended to designate a theory that could possibly be counted, by high-energy physics, as fundamental. I make no further claims about the truth of such a theory.]

Bookmark and Share


Narendra Nath replied on Feb. 20, 2018 @ 01:35 GMT
Rhanks Karen for your detailed reponse to my queries. I feel satisfied with the response as it shows oth humility and depth of understanding you have achieved. Subjectivity and objectivity both control the growth of our understanding and most of all the consensus that results in the community helps us all grow further the professionalism demanded of us. If you can spare soem time responding to our essay here we shall feel obliged, it is ashort contribution of just 2/3 pages only!

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Paul N Butler wrote on Feb. 18, 2018 @ 21:25 GMT
Dear Karen,

I read your paper and found it very interesting in many ways. If taken strictly as presented the nine conditions could possibly identify a most fundamental theory depending on how they are interpreted. As an example, since the universe is constructed as a structural substance hierarchy, although it is possible to generate a complete theory that covers all of the structuring of...

view entire post


Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 19, 2018 @ 16:55 GMT
Dear Paul,

Thanks for your comments. There is a lot in what you have said, and I can't fully respond to all of it, so I'll just make a few comments.

On the idea of potentially "compartmentalising" the theory into sections that deal with particular phenomena at different scales, in order to simplify its practical implementation. This is complicated, firstly, if we have a unified...

view entire post


Bookmark and Share


Paul N Butler replied on Feb. 20, 2018 @ 21:16 GMT
Dear Karen,

In order to give you an idea of what can be extrapolated from current observational data and theories, I guess it would be best to start at the lowest most fundamental level of physical substance structuring and build up from there. If you look at E=MC^2 where E=energy, M=mass, and C=the speed of light, most who have much familiarity with it would understand that matter...

view entire post


Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Narendra Nath wrote on Feb. 18, 2018 @ 23:15 GMT
Awaiting response of Author, Jaren to xomments of mine and Paul !

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Anonymous wrote on Feb. 19, 2018 @ 04:42 GMT
Dear Karen,

Good to see that your Aussie connections have done no harm: for your excellent essay hits the spot as I work on "wholistic mechanics" (WM), a classical/deterministic reformulation of physics in spacetime. WM = {CM, SR, QM, GR, QFT, QG, EFT, ...|TLR}, my essay being an introduction.

Identifying your nine conditions as KC-1 to KC-9, it was the last -- no weirdness -- that got me started; ie, I studied EPRB, the experiment analysed in famous Bell (1964), not accepting that the assumptions behind Bell's theorem (BT) were valid in that setting, and rejecting nonlocality.

My starting premiss (my classical boundary condition) is true local realism (TLR): the union of true locality (no influence propagates superluminally, after Einstein) and true realism (some existents may change interactively, after Bohr).

Revising EPR's naive definition of "elements of physical reality", I find determinism in play, refute Bell's theorem, and (from first principles, in spacetime) find the Laws of Malus, Bayes and Born validated. Born's law (an effective field theory, in my terms; in the space of probability amplitudes) can then be tested by confirming the correct result for the EPRB expectation; then the correct DSE results; then onward to the stars.

In thus eliminating "wavefunction collapse" and nonlocality from QM, it follows that such weirdness need no longer trouble the foundations of QFT; etc. And since my calculations are conducted in spacetime (not Hilbert space), I'm thinking QG is covered automatically.

Enough: such is my long way of saying that I will welcome your comments at any time.

With thanks for your stimulating essay, and with best regards from down-under,

Gordon Watson (determined and free-willed)

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Gordon Watson replied on Feb. 19, 2018 @ 04:46 GMT
Apologies: it appears reCAPTCHA logged me out when it malfunctioned! GW

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Gordon Watson replied on Feb. 20, 2018 @ 00:54 GMT
Karen, if/when you reply to my post, please copy it to my essay-thread so that I'm alerted to it. I'm having trouble keeping abreast of many good discussions this year.

Many thanks; Gordon More realistic fundamentals: quantum theory from one premiss.

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Armin Nikkhah Shirazi wrote on Feb. 19, 2018 @ 11:53 GMT
Dear Karen,

Your eloquently written essay provides one of the most thorough and thoughtful responses to the contest question of any of the entries, and the list of 9 criteria is a useful way to structure any approach to thinking about fundamentality in physics.

A few comments:

1. I wholeheartedly agree with the "more general principle" that a fundamental theory not leave...

view entire post


Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Mar. 16, 2018 @ 22:16 GMT
Dear Armin,

Thanks very much! (And sorry for the delayed response).

You raise some very good points here, and offer a new perspective for viewing my essay. Yes, as you appreciate, I was taking the particular perspective of current mainstream high-energy physics, and trying to discover and articulate the conditions it apparently puts on a fundamental theory (while leaving open the possibility that these conditions change in the future). But, as you note, these conditions are revealing of the nature of the discipline itself at this point in time, beyond its conception of fundamentality. So, yes, I would certainly like to take up this idea in future work, and to better understand what it is about these conditions that makes them key to current physics -- and what may be modified in future physics.

Your project sounds like it could be a very difficult one! I'm curious what you mean, so I'll come have a look...

Best,

Karen

Bookmark and Share



Sue Lingo wrote on Feb. 19, 2018 @ 20:30 GMT
Hi Karen...

Your essay definitively reflects the position taken by the majority of the essay entries... i.e. “For the time being, we have to admit that we do not possess any general theoretical basis for physics, which can be regarded as its logical foundation.” ~ Albert Einstein 1940 ('Science')

REF: Peter Jackson Ridiculous Simplicity "Essay Abstract...

view entire post


Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Anil Shanker wrote on Feb. 22, 2018 @ 20:59 GMT
Dear Karen,

I enjoyed reading your essay. You beautifully discuss the various components of fundamentalness. To add to your arguments and the proposed checklist of fundamentalness, I will add that the complete comprehension of fundamentalness will entail a deeper journey into the worlds of biological and physical evolutions. I believe they intricately co-exist, co-evolve and are co-dependent.

Best regards,

Anil

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Gordon Watson wrote on Feb. 24, 2018 @ 02:16 GMT
Dear Karen, here's some background to the theory that I mention above; Gordon.

Background to Wholistic Mechanics (WM)

Whereas QM emerged from the UV-catastrophe ca1905, WM emerges from the locality-catastrophe typified by John Bell's dilemma ca1965: ie, seriously ambivalent about AAD, Bell adamantly rejected locality. He later surmised that maybe he and his followers were...

view entire post


Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Steven Andresen wrote on Feb. 24, 2018 @ 03:14 GMT
Dear Karen

You picked a good theme for this years essay, and you are accomplished in that you did the subject good justice. Congratulations of a great essay and a great score. I hit you with a 10 but it wasn’t sufficient to move you up to 7.7. But it will have pushed it closer to that tipping point

I just want to give you a quick run down, why you might read my essay with a view...

view entire post


Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Steven Andresen replied on Feb. 24, 2018 @ 03:17 GMT
Karen

Here is a fuller detail regarding QM and GR being centered on study of a singular device, clocks. Just in case it interests you

Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity, two fundamental theories of one world. However QM and GR have clocks in common, in terms of clocks being a study in QM (made of QM), and GR being a study of clocks (time dilation). Two fundamental theories,...

view entire post


Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Terry Bollinger wrote on Feb. 24, 2018 @ 16:50 GMT
Here is a link to a top-level, easily accessible copy of:

The Crowther Criteria for Fundamental Theories of Physics

https://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/3099#post_1455
51


Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Member Kevin H Knuth wrote on Feb. 24, 2018 @ 19:53 GMT
Dear Dr. Crowther,

I really enjoyed your essay. I found it to be a very insightful examination of current physical theory and the aspects that make them fundamental or not.

I wonder about some of the requirements, such as being non-perturbative, since some things simply cannot be computed mathematically in a direct fashion. Could such requirements imply that there might never be a fundamental theory?

My group has been working on an attempt at a foundational theory called Influence Theory,

Knuth, K.H., *Bahreyni, N. 2014. A potential foundation for emergent space-time, Journal of Mathematical Physics, 55, 112501. doi:10.1063/1.4899081, arXiv:1209.0881 [math-ph]

Knuth, K.H. 2014. Information-based physics: an observer-centric foundation. Contemporary Physics, 55(1), 12-32. doi:10.1080/00107514.2013.853426. arXiv:1310.1667 [quant-ph]

and you now have me thinking about to what degree what we have achieved so far is fundamental.

Thank you for your excellent essay!

Kevin Knuth

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Member Alyssa Ney wrote on Feb. 25, 2018 @ 19:09 GMT
Dear Karen,

Thank you for writing this paper which while it aims at assembling the criteria that are used by working physicists in their construction of fundamental theories is at the same time provocative and gives one a lot to think about.

I am not convinced that this list is best presented as a set of criteria on what high energy physicists look for in a fundamental theory as opposed to a final theory. You are clear at several points in the paper that you think we should not make a distinction between 'fundamental' and 'final'. But I would disagree. It is clear we are far away from a final theory and yet there is an importance to recognizing at least part of current physics as fundamental. Our best physical theories have a special explanatory status not shared by other attempts at characterizing the world that underwrites their status as fundamental. I try to articulate the importance of such characterization in my own essay submission.

I also wanted to ask about "weirdness". Many would argue that any realist interpretation of quantum theories is going to commit us to some weirdness, in forcing us to move beyond assumptions that were previously thought of as obvious. Shouldn't some weirdness be allowed even in a final theory of physics?

Best,

Alyssa

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Mar. 14, 2018 @ 16:00 GMT
Dear Alyssa,

Thank you for your comments. Sorry for my delayed response.

My idea in this essay was to provide the apparently necessary conditions on a fundamental theory of physics – not just a ‘currently fundamental’ physical theory. GR and QFT (or, really, some particular QFTs, like QCD) are both currently fundamental, and yet physicists are still searching for a deeper theory, for reasons that I present in the essay. And this is what led to me eventually realising that the distinction between fundamental and final needed to be dropped, due to the arguments regarding unification and uniqueness.

Regarding weirdness: the idea was motivated by the fact that so many physicists remain unconvinced that the framework can be complete, or correct, due to the measurement problem. Many people (physicists and philosophers alike) believe that a more fundamental theory (perhaps QG) must provide a solution to the measurement problem, and thus absolve this ‘weirdness’. So, the lesson I took is that some degree of weirdness may be acceptable, but there may be a point where the theory is weird enough that it won’t be accepted by mainstream physics as a fundamental theory, and people will seek to go deeper. (That said, I am not fully convinced by this condition, because the measurement problem could plausibly be “external” to theory… So I will think about this more).

Best,

Karen

Bookmark and Share



Narendra Nath wrote on Feb. 26, 2018 @ 13:49 GMT
There is both physical evolution as also the biological evolution. Both have followed the logic built in to the Nature! Your essay has touched on both these aspects but have refrained from discussing these two aspects seperately and in conjunction. Evolution is basically a natural event and can not be understood through scientific knowledge which itself is in the process of evolution. Philosophy reflects human thinking but it has also developed a kind of methodology! These are our constraints in ' free will ' understanding! Thus, the questions remain open and 'freedom' of thought and action remains open, without restriction due to history of science that we may have happened to evolve thus far.

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Cristinel Stoica wrote on Feb. 26, 2018 @ 16:38 GMT
Dear Karen,

You are the victim of a targeted attack of massive downvoting. Me too. Also I noticed Andrew Beckwith was attacked too, maybe others, but so far I only noticed you two. This may be the result of a desperate last minute attempt to climb the ladder, but it is dishonest and a violation of the rules of the contest, in which case we are advised to write to the organizers. Which I did, and Andrew did it too. I would encourage anyone who noticed such phenomena to report them.

Good luck!

Cristi

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Feb. 26, 2018 @ 16:50 GMT
Dear Christi,

Thanks for this. Yes, I was very surprised to notice such a drop today without any accompanying comments! So I will write to the organisers, as you suggest.

Good luck for you, too!

Karen

Bookmark and Share



Terry Bollinger wrote on Feb. 27, 2018 @ 22:13 GMT
Karen, Christi,

I can ask even if it's awkward for either of you: Does this downvoting appear to be gender related? You both have very good essays, so it's strange to see both of you hit by this.

My observation to any FQXi admins reading this: Please at least consider whether there has been some bias here. All I can say is that the high quality of these two essays has not changed, so a sudden downswing in the last couple of days to me just seems wrong.

Sincerely,

Terry Bollinger (63 year old male codger, since my first name is ambiguous... :)

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Member Sylvia Wenmackers wrote on Mar. 12, 2018 @ 20:16 GMT
Dear Karen,

I found your essay very clear! Unlike some others, it came exactly as announced in the abstract. :) I think your text is very accessible and relevant for, e.g., Master students of physics. (I would definitely have enjoyed reading such a survey at that point, to add some global perspective to more detailed courses of QFT, etc.)

Three more detailed comments on section 4:

- On p. 6 it appears that you assume the "problem of missing physics" (as Wilson calls it; i.e., the existence of gaps between theories) is only temporary. (In my own essay I have embraced the patchwork view of physics, as I think it is here to stay.) I am not sure whether rejecting patchwork is necessary for embracing the goal of physics (which you discuss at the bottom of p. 7): searching for a unique, unified, ... theory may well be the goal of physics, but I don't think it is inconsistent to admit at the same time that it is an unattainable one.

- "No weirdness" is a tricky requirement - as you may well be aware of -, since what we find weird or not strongly depends on our training and background knowledge.

- I particularly appreciate how you managed to escape Kantian worries by keeping us focused about what physics is (and isn't) about. So, I fully agree with your comment at the bottom of p. 7: indeed, physics isn't in the business of finding out what are things-in-themselves.

Best wishes,

Sylvia - Seek Fundamentality, and Distrust It.

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Author Karen Crowther replied on Mar. 16, 2018 @ 23:23 GMT
Dear Sylvia,

Thanks very much!

Yes, you raise some good points here, and I agree. Regarding the "patchwork": it may well be that we continue to work in this way, building up a patchwork, ultimately aiming at a unified, unique theory, but also recognising that in the end we may have a set of theories. Actually, this is similar to comments in the paper on UV completion (with Niels Linnemann) -- that a UV complete theory may be an ultimate goal, and heuristically useful, but we can still use UV incomplete theories, and at the end of the day, that may be all we have (though of course currently in QG, the non-renormalisable theory we have is unsatisfactory since it breaks down at the Planck scale, which is what we want to describe). Really, I think this whole list represents an unattainable goal that nevertheless drives us!

Regarding "no weirdness" -- yes, it's a tricky one. I certainly wouldn't want to reduce it to what particular individuals, or particular research programs find weird, but some rough sort of disciplinary consensus. When a theory is unsettling enough that many researchers forge ahead for something deeper, and this research is recognised as legitimate by mainstream physics (or, at least, not entirely misguided)... that's the gauge of "weirdness" I mean. But I need to think about this more... Please let me know if you have any more thoughts on it!

Best,

Karen

Bookmark and Share



Login or create account to post reply or comment.

Please enter your e-mail address:
Note: Joining the FQXi mailing list does not give you a login account or constitute membership in the organization.