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What Is “Fundamental”
October 28, 2017 to January 22, 2018
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How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intention?
December 2, 2016 to March 3, 2017
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Trick or Truth: The Mysterious Connection Between Physics and Mathematics
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How Should Humanity Steer the Future?
January 9, 2014 - August 31, 2014
Contest Partners: Jaan Tallinn, The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, The John Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American
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It From Bit or Bit From It
March 25 - June 28, 2013
Contest Partners: The Gruber Foundation, J. Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American
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Questioning the Foundations
Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?
May 24 - August 31, 2012
Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, SubMeta, and Scientific American
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Is Reality Digital or Analog?
November 2010 - February 2011
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What's Ultimately Possible in Physics?
May - October 2009
Contest Partners: Astrid and Bruce McWilliams
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The Nature of Time
August - December 2008
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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Vladimir Fedorov: on 2/27/18 at 4:36am UTC, wrote Dear Jonathan, I highly appreciate your well-written essay in an effort...

Jonathan Kerr: on 2/27/18 at 0:47am UTC, wrote Thanks Conrad, It's much appreciated. My point is a bit different, but I...

Conrad Johnson: on 2/26/18 at 13:18pm UTC, wrote Jonathan, In case you didn't see it, I wanted to point out a remark by...

corciovei silviu: on 2/23/18 at 19:35pm UTC, wrote MR. Kerr I fully enjoyed the way you put things togrther it and I think...

Steven Andresen: on 2/23/18 at 13:12pm UTC, wrote Dear Jonathan If you are looking for another essay to read and rate in the...

Don Limuti: on 2/21/18 at 6:45am UTC, wrote Jonathan, I liked your -concept- :) It reminds me of a line in a poem: ...

John Merryman: on 2/21/18 at 0:17am UTC, wrote Jonathan, The problem I see with our understanding of time is that since...

Jonathan Kerr: on 2/20/18 at 18:13pm UTC, wrote Dear Conrad, Good to hear from you - I have happy memories of the 2012...


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FQXi FORUM
August 26, 2019

CATEGORY: FQXi Essay Contest - Spring, 2017 [back]
TOPIC: In ordering the levels of description in physics, alongside emergence, the idea of explanation is needed by Jonathan Kerr [refresh]
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Author Jonathan Kerr wrote on Jan. 18, 2018 @ 19:18 GMT
Essay Abstract

To order the levels of description in physics, and find out what makes one layer more fundamental than another, the concept of emergence helps. If one phenomenon is the result of another, and clearly emerges from it, that places them in order, and shows which runs deeper. But here it is suggested that alongside emergence, we need to think about each layer explaining the one above it. Explanation is a concept that comes very much from human thinking, but then so does some of the surrounding landscape. That's because the levels we identify in physics are in the first place, to some extent, levels of conceptual understanding. The view here is that ‘fundamental’ has an objective element involving emergence, and a parallel subjective one, involving explanation. The two give the same directional ordering of the layers.

Author Bio

An independent British physicist, published in peer reviewed journals, who since 1995 has worked almost entirely on the physics of time, and the foundations of quantum mechanics. This led to a forthcoming book, ‘The Unsolved Puzzle’, which is with the publishers, who have aged noticeably since I first met them. It takes the view that some questions to be answered in the 21st century can only be solved by conceptual thinking.

Download Essay PDF File

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Jan. 25, 2018 @ 00:58 GMT
Dear Jonathan Kerr,

I enjoyed your essay immensely, and not just because you focused on the fundamental nature of time.

On my page you asked exactly what I mean when I say SR implies two time dimensions. Rindler's definition of inertial frame is one in which spatial relations (as determined by rigid scales at rest in the frame) are Euclidian and in which there exists a universal...

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Author Jonathan Kerr replied on Jan. 25, 2018 @ 22:49 GMT
Hello Edwin,

Thank you for your positive comments on my essay, glad you enjoyed it.

Incidentally, I'd appreciate it if you'd rate my essay, I've only had one rating so far.

It’s worth pointing out that neither time nor energy are well defined at present, so although one might perhaps interpret SR by making either one or the other change (in the standard view both change), it’s not a ‘deepest level’ interpretation, it’s an intermediate level one. My own approach is to try to find the deepest level before assuming much on the way. SR has many equivalent configurations (it’s a bit like a Rubik’s cube), but there may be only one configuration that goes anywhere.

I think your idea that SR has two time dimensions is about the derivation, rather than what’s in SR. It seems you’re saying that dilated time is derived via a universal time - to me that doesn’t mean the theory has both, it’s just a way to get to the theory.

About energy and time - a point I’ve made is that they go in opposite directions, if you look at the two different kinds of time dilation. (I know you don’t believe in time dilation, I mention it to make a point about the relationship between energy and time.)

In motion time dilation, an object’s energy increases as its time rate slows down - inverse proportion.

In gravity time dilation, an object’s energy decreases as its time rate slows down - direct proportion.

(With gravitational time dilation, although this is about position in the field, it can be about an object moving towards a mass.)

So I think not only are both time and energy unexplained, the relationship between them needs some explaining as well.

Wishing you all the best, Jonathan

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Edwin Eugene Klingman replied on Feb. 10, 2018 @ 00:57 GMT
Dear Jonathan Kerr,

Thanks for your feedback. The simplest way to interpret SR is that Einstein is adding a time dimension for each inertial frame. If one tries to maintain a single 'universal time' (per Rindler) that varies with velocity (and position) it is incomprehensible to me. An 'elastic' time dimension that is stretched by motion cannot be real (in my opinion). How is the...

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Author Jonathan Kerr replied on Feb. 11, 2018 @ 19:11 GMT
Hello Edwin,

Thank you for your comments on my essay, and for saying that it deserves to be doing better than it is.

I’m glad we both think (the apparent flow of) time is not emergent, as the 2015 experiment I’ve outlined makes it harder to take that view. Although it needs reproducing, the experiment had press coverage at the time, as it showed for the first time that the world at the quantum scale is not reversible, but is subject to entropy, just as in the large-scale world. It leaves time very much unexplained.

I’ve seen quite a few attempts to explain the direction of time, where the given cause turns out to be a process, needing another flow of time underneath it. I don’t know about your idea that the direction of time arises from the self-interaction of the gravitational field, but any forces (or pseudo forces) are at risk of needing time already in place, if they are to have what we call effects - just as cause and effect implies a time sequence.

Good luck, best regards,

Jonathan

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Eckard Blumschein wrote on Jan. 30, 2018 @ 22:08 GMT
Dear Jonathan Kerr,

In a discussion with Klingman you wrote: "events at the quantum scale are not reversible, although the Schrödinger equation is."

How to explain this? I don't only consider the laws of physics and Schrödinger's as well as Heisenberg/Born' pictures like mere maps of a territory we used to call reality. In my current essay 3009 I even tried to reveal how unwarranted mathematical assumptions led to redundant descriptions and to oddities.

Therefore I will read your essay.

Eckard Blumschein

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Author Jonathan Kerr wrote on Jan. 31, 2018 @ 11:38 GMT
Hello Eckard,

I remember your contribution to discussions in 2012. I haven't submitted an essay since then, but one reason I did this year is that a very important experiment was done in 2015, which I've described and referenced in the essay.

It may take time before the result filters through, but it means that the apparent flow of time cannot be emergent, even though the standard...

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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Feb. 3, 2018 @ 12:43 GMT
Dear Jonathan Kerr,

In a paper published earlier, I did mentions it (Shapiro time delay of light), in the name of Gravitational time delay…. I will contact you with full details ASAP….

Thank you for mentioning this…

Best

=snp

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Flavio Del Santo wrote on Feb. 14, 2018 @ 12:22 GMT
Dear Mr. Kerr,

thanks for this very interesting essay. I think it gives an original and intelligent description of what fundamental means. Clearly written and engaging. I appreciated your hierachy of "levels of conceptual understanding" that, together with the importance you attribute to emergence, is a brilliant alternative to ontological reductionism.

I hope you will find a moment to heve alook at my essay as well (https://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/3017).

I am sorry you are not receiving the attention you deserve. The least I can do is to rate you very high.

Best of luck!

Flavio

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Author Jonathan Kerr wrote on Feb. 15, 2018 @ 10:06 GMT
Dear Flavio,

Thank you very much for your kind comments, I'm very glad to hear from you. I've been reading your essay (have more reading to do there), and the many comments on your page.

My general feeling about the discussion is that physics is now at a point of constantly questioning its own basis, there's a massive process of self-searching going on. This is not just to do with the subject matter this year, it's part of a wider identity crisis that arises because in a number of ways we're now stuck, and are having trouble finding a way forward.

To me the underlying cause is that progress has been made only in the mathematical and experimental domains, but not in the conceptual domain, for some time. And as I've said in the essay, conceptual physics is the backbone of physics, and we need it more than we might realise. My view is that if we made a bit of progress with the picture, we'd stop worrying, and get on with it. But without that kind of progress, we question what our theories are - - this is ultimately because without the picture they're incomplete.

Thank you again, best wishes and good luck,

Jonathan

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Kamal L Rajpal wrote on Feb. 16, 2018 @ 19:53 GMT
Dear Jonathan Kerr,

QM claims that an electron can be both spin-up and spin-down at the same time. In my conceptual physics Essay on Electron Spin I have proved that this is not true. Please read: https://fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/3145 or https://fqxi.org/data/essay-contest-files/Rajpal_1306.0141v3
.pdf

Kamal Rajpal

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Avtar Singh wrote on Feb. 19, 2018 @ 19:29 GMT
Hi Jonathan:

I enjoyed reading your essay and especially note your statement – “………Einstein also mentioned what he called ‘the principle of the universe’, and said that it ‘will be beautiful and simple’. John Wheeler said that at the bottom of it all, we’d find not an equation, but an utterly simple idea.”

Simple and conceptual would be the deepest layer of physical reality; this is also the theme of my paper -– “What is Fundamental – Is C the Speed of Light”, I propose the missing physics of spontaneous mass-energy conversion (as observed in wave-particle behavior) that bridges the observed relative mass-energy-space-time states to the ZPS while resolving the paradox of the missing dark energy that is revealed as the relativistic kinetic energy, the paradox of the collapse of the wave function that is explained via transition to the classical space-time from the fully dilated space-time when a measurement is made, the black hole singularity of GR eliminated via mass dilation at small R, and solution to other current inconsistencies as well as weirdness of mainstream theories as described in my book.

I would deeply appreciate your comments on my paper as it is built upon the principles in your paper.

Best Regards

Avtar Singh

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Conrad Dale Johnson wrote on Feb. 20, 2018 @ 15:05 GMT
Jonathan,

I’m glad to find another essay of yours, at last. And I want you to know your publishers aren’t the only ones who’ve grown old and hoary waiting for your book to appear... hopefully soon!

I very much agree with you about the importance of “conceptual physics” – if only we could show some strong examples of success there, without going back a hundred years. And...

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Author Jonathan Kerr wrote on Feb. 20, 2018 @ 18:13 GMT
Dear Conrad,

Good to hear from you - I have happy memories of the 2012 essay contest, and the discussions we had, particularly with four of us - You, me, Edwin and Daryl Janzen. It felt good as I had been working alone for too long. There were also occasional posts from Ben Dribus and George Ellis.

Thanks for your comments on my essay, much appreciated. I’ve just read yours, and...

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John Brodix Merryman wrote on Feb. 21, 2018 @ 00:17 GMT
Jonathan,

The problem I see with our understanding of time is that since we experience reality as a sequence of cognitive flashes, we think of time as the point of the present, "flowing" past to future, which physics codifies as measures of duration, between events, but the logical cause is that it is change turning future to past. As in tomorrow becoming yesterday, because the earth...

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Don Limuti wrote on Feb. 21, 2018 @ 06:45 GMT
Jonathan,

I liked your -concept- :)

It reminds me of a line in a poem: "The universe is made of stories, not of atoms". I would say you modify it a bit to be "The universe is made of stories and atoms".

If you already haven't done so, check out the essay: A Universe Made of Stories by Philip Gibbs. And checkout the poem "The Speed of Darkness".

I cannot figure out why the few votes for your essay. I thought it was excellent.

Good to see you back in a contest,

Don Limuti

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Steven Andresen wrote on Feb. 23, 2018 @ 13:12 GMT
Dear Jonathan

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

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

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corciovei silviu wrote on Feb. 23, 2018 @ 19:35 GMT
MR. Kerr

I fully enjoyed the way you put things togrther it and I think further words are useless.

Rate it accordingly.

If you would have the pleasure for a short axiomatic approach of the subject, I will appreciate your opinion.

Silviu

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Conrad Dale Johnson wrote on Feb. 26, 2018 @ 13:18 GMT
Jonathan,

In case you didn't see it, I wanted to point out a remark by Terry Bollinger... responding on 2/22 to a comment on his essay by Eckard Blumschein:

"For a number or reasons I pretty much accept the “now is real” interpretation a the only one that is logically self-consistent, since all block models of time require a sort of magical preconstruction of the block that on closer examination cannot be made self-consistent without some kind of causality-enforcing “growth” from past to future. Any such “growth’ process looks a whole lot like… well, time, and time with a very definite sense of “now” at the future face of growth."

"Magical preconstruction" reminded me of your argument, so I thought you might appreciate the support. Of course many people (including me) think "now" is something to be reckoned with, but they usually just treat it as a self-evident feature of experience, so appeals to "logical self-consistency" in physics itself are especially interesting.

Conrad

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Author Jonathan Kerr wrote on Feb. 27, 2018 @ 00:47 GMT
Thanks Conrad,

It's much appreciated. My point is a bit different, but I see what you mean - there are areas of overlap. Anyway, it has been a pleasure talking with you, mostly on your page, as it was back in 2012. It also makes you think, just as brainstorming is a very productive process. Nothing like knocking ideas around, good fun too!

All the best to you, Jonathan

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Vladimir Nikolaevich Fedorov wrote on Feb. 27, 2018 @ 04:36 GMT
Dear Jonathan,

I highly appreciate your well-written essay in an effort to understand.

Your essay allowed to consider us like-minded people.

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

Vladimir Fedorov

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

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