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Current Essay Contest

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Previous Contests

Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability Essay Contest
December 24, 2019 - April 24, 2020
Contest Partners: Fetzer Franklin Fund, and The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation

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

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.

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


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

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

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

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

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

The Nature of Time
August - December 2008

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Steven Andresen: on 2/23/18 at 13:06pm UTC, wrote Dear Stephen If you are looking for another essay to read and rate in the...

Steve Dufourny: on 2/23/18 at 10:52am UTC, wrote You are welcome.All this is very interesting Mr Anastasi,It is important...

adel sadeq: on 2/23/18 at 1:04am UTC, wrote Just some more comments plus attachment I saw your conversation with Mr....

adel sadeq: on 2/23/18 at 0:12am UTC, wrote I give up. If you give me your email, then i will send it to you.

adel sadeq: on 2/23/18 at 0:10am UTC, wrote another try

adel sadeq: on 2/23/18 at 0:06am UTC, wrote something went wrong with attachment so I try again

adel sadeq: on 2/22/18 at 23:58pm UTC, wrote Hi Stephen, I had almost given up on this contest until I...

Stephen Anastasi: on 2/22/18 at 22:16pm UTC, wrote Thank you Steve. I'm presently working to see how this connects to General...


Zeeya Merali: "Viviana Fafone is a member of the VIRGO collaboration that detects..." in Micro and macro-physics...

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Physicists are using optogenetics techniques to make a rudimentary agent, from cellular components, which can convert measurements into actions using light.

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Investigating how quantum memory storage could aid machine learning and how quantum interactions with the environment may have played a role in evolution.

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Why do we remember the past and not the future? Untangling the connections between cause and effect, choice, and entropy.

June 4, 2020

CATEGORY: FQXi Essay Contest - Spring, 2017 [back]
TOPIC: A cold bang: thoughts on the Planck mass as an entry point into quantum gravity. by Stephen James Anastasi [refresh]
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Author Stephen James Anastasi wrote on Jan. 19, 2018 @ 17:00 GMT
Essay Abstract

It is argued that while the Planck mass is seemingly fundamental, the Planck mass formula is incomplete. An evolutionary term is placed in the Planck mass formula. This affects our ideas about the Big Bang and suggests the universe began as something like a Bose-Einstein condensate. The same evolutionary term placed in the Planck length formula implies an expansion and acceleration of space and balances the perturbations introduced in the Planck mass, suggesting a connection to gravity.

Author Bio

Stephen Anastasi founded the Cosmos Centre, Charleville, Queensland, Australia. He now educates students at Scots PGC College, Warwick, Queensland, writes books of mystery and imagination, and does hard core cosmology, philosophy and mathematics in his spare time. The present essay is a small slice of what he refers to as 'Point Theory'. His aim is to complete a singular edifice that connects the disciplines of philosophy, mathematics and physics.

Download Essay PDF File

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Joe Fisher wrote on Jan. 19, 2018 @ 21:55 GMT
Dear Stephen James Anastasi,

Nature produced one single unified VISIBLE infinite surface occurring eternally in one single dimension that am always illuminated by mostly finite non-surface light millions of years before humanly contrived finite complex pretentious information ever became evident on earth.

Joe Fisher, Realist.

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Author Stephen James Anastasi wrote on Jan. 20, 2018 @ 04:30 GMT
Please Joe

You might have read my work before rating it. I will refrain from rating yours. If there is some error I would like to know; preferably in well-formed English.

Stephen Anastasi

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Joe Fisher replied on Jan. 20, 2018 @ 19:33 GMT
Dear Stephen,

I think might be trying to find out if there could be a Natural fundamental. I am surprised that so many of the contest's entrants do not appear to know what am fundamental to science, or mathematics, or quantum histrionics.

We are not supposed to trade our votes.

Joe Fisher, Realist

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Dizhechko Boris Semyonovich wrote on Jan. 20, 2018 @ 09:08 GMT
Dear Stephen James by Anastasi, the impression of your essay is that you have accumulated a lot of information from modern physics and trying to recycle it in a convenient form. But you will find it difficult to go along the chosen path. After all, the fundamental should be very easy to understand. This criterion meets the New Cartesian Physics and as you work with students, you and they will be useful to meet her.

Even if written in bad English

Sincerely, Dicecco Boris Semenovich.

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Author Stephen James Anastasi replied on Jan. 22, 2018 @ 05:36 GMT
Dear Dizhechko

Thank you for reading my work. My previous essay is very much taken from a Cartesian philosophical stance, which is endpoint rationalism. This essay is founded on that essay, visit . This may seem to be 'recycling' other physics, when in reality it explains why other physics is as it is (metaphysics) not how it is (physics).This isn't supposed to be possible according to Hume and Kant. I wonder how your Cartesian physics might connect to my Cartesian rationalism?

The 'fundament' should be very easy to understand, as you say, and if you read the previous essay, you will see that it is easy (even if abstract) because it is just a person's internal idea of equivalence and difference, which I show is necessarily the foundation of human understanding. Ultimately, I argue that all knowledge (meaning justified truth worthy of belief) is only accessible from this idea of equivalence, which I express formally as the General Principle of Equivalence. The ontological necessity of the GPE is only referenced in this essay, but it is established in the first essay -

I hope this is of value. It produces a foundation for time and space, which ought to key into your New Cartesian model, but may need a deal of consideration.

Best wishes


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Dizhechko Boris Semyonovich replied on Jan. 22, 2018 @ 10:51 GMT
Stephen James, I appreciate those who looked at my essay and touched ideas of identity of space and matter of Descartes. I hope that you, as a rationalist, answer me mutual. I am ready together with you to consider joining of new Cartesian philosophy and new Cartesian physics Because I only focus on the physics and waiting when someone will take the philosophy. But competition is only enough to quickly exchange opinions and get ratings. I noticed new Cartesian physics are not very tolerant of those who are many years. As you work with students, I would be glad if you mastered it and passed them. I think that in the future familiarity with Descartes will determine the level of education of the people.

I wish you success, Dihzechko Boris Semyonovich

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Author Stephen James Anastasi replied on Jan. 22, 2018 @ 13:17 GMT
Dear Dhzechko

I very much agree that it is time for Descartes's thoughts to again be considered. He was a very clear thinker in many respects (setting aside his reliance on a non-deceiving God) and his concerns regarding natural philosophy continue to this least, they continue up until my first essay. I hope that my addition is seen as relying at least in part on his Method of Doubt.

Best wishes

Stephen (and kudos to you for trying so hard).

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Cory Kenneth Buott wrote on Jan. 25, 2018 @ 08:14 GMT
I had completely disregarded Planck mass prior to this. I had to re-read your first essay 3 times, between sleeps in order for the consequences to sink in. I gave you a 9 instead of a 10 (because I had to refer to your previous essay, and because you used the word "shan't" which would loose me marks for sure (at least in Canada!). I will simply recapture what I wrote in remark to your first essay, as they work together to say the same thing:


I will admit -initially I thought Rubbish! and saw this as vague playing on language. Then the discomfort began to creep in, and I had to really struggle with myself, because I was trying to validate my own hypothesis, trying to fit it into your framework. I slept on it after 2nd pass, then read for 3rd. I am coming to grips with it now, and for me it is a real truth exercise. I got caught in a trap between empiricism and rationalization. The same trap I preach to others to avoid, I found myself in. Your framework shows that we need to look hard at fundamental truth before we move further. It is hard to do, as it sometimes means a lot of work has to be challenged, anew. I am thankful for the eye opener though, and I wish you the best in the reception of this! (you are going to need it, this one's a real tree shaker!) I do see possibilities for a wave function, and hopefully a better framework to settle the duality question once and for all. I still want to try to apply riemann geometries/non-euclidean waveform to this, I will discuss at a later date. Your essay reminds me of the day I heard a 1 bit recording from a Korg (MR2 i think) that a tech brought into the recording studio. I was livid he bought it (with my money) I exclaimed in protest "why the hell would you waste my money on that!?" Then I heard it and was simply floored. the 1 bit ΔΣ modulation is very clever, and far superior to a 24 or 32 bit -even 64 bit recording! Who knew! This is (this) all over again. Bravo Sir!

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Karen Crowther wrote on Jan. 28, 2018 @ 13:57 GMT
Dear Stephen,

Well done on your essay, I enjoyed reading it and found the ideas interesting.

At first, I was curious about your puzzlement in regards to the Planck mass, but apparent acceptance of the Planck time and Planck length as fundamental quantities. For my part, I am sceptical of the Planck length as a minimal length (and correspondingly, of the Planck time as a minimal...

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Author Stephen James Anastasi replied on Feb. 1, 2018 @ 15:55 GMT
Dear Karen

Apologies in advance for the enormity of my reply.

It is fabulous to receive feedback from a person with strong cross-disciplinary experience. I would like to take up a couple of your comments to provide greater clarity relating to the basis of my arguments.

First and foremost, I did not choose the Planck time because of empirical measurements or existing theory....

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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Feb. 2, 2018 @ 21:11 GMT
Hi Stephen James Anastasi

Wonderful thinking in the “A cold bang” using Planck mass, Planck time, Planck length for jumping into quantum gravity, really nice idea sir Stephen James Anastasi…………..….. very nice idea ideed…. I highly appreciate your essay and hope you may please spend some of the valuable time on Dynamic Universe Model ( it may not be as fundamental as your...

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Laurence Hitterdale wrote on Feb. 3, 2018 @ 03:30 GMT
Dear Stephen,

Thank you for reading my essay and commenting on it. Because our specific topics are somewhat different, I shall not try to connect the two discussions.

So, referring to what you have to say in your essay, I have questions about what we can learn about the world through a priori rational means. If I understand correctly, you maintain that any actual world must conform to the General Principle of Equivalence. You also argue that the Harmony Set is a mathematical model for the actual world. By the General Principle of Equivalence, as you say on page 4, this means that “any system that can be shown to be equivalent to the Harmony Set is equally valid, hence equally fundamental.” This leads to my questions. What is the basis for thinking that the Harmony Set and other models equivalent to it are appropriate models for our world? Could there be another group of models, all of which are equivalent to each other, but none of which is equivalent to the Harmony Set? If so, what is the basis for thinking that the Harmony Set and its equivalents are the right models? Does this have to be determined empirically, or can it be calculated a priori?

In any case, your proposals are stimulating and provide much to think about.

Laurence Hitterdale

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Author Stephen James Anastasi replied on Feb. 3, 2018 @ 14:16 GMT
Dear Laurence

It is with pleasure that I answer your well-crafted questions. As with my previous response, I apologise for its length. However, your questions require a rich response if my answers are to be complete.

Firstly, you understand me correctly. My claim is that the Harmony Set is a mathematical model of the actual world. To see the rock-hard basis of this claim, you are...

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Branko L Zivlak wrote on Feb. 3, 2018 @ 16:52 GMT
Dear Stephen,

The Planck mass is the geometric mean between the masses of the universe

universe contains 6,3871E+121 bits

that is (t/tp)^2 in any moment

Plancks values have not changed



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Author Stephen James Anastasi replied on Feb. 3, 2018 @ 23:21 GMT
Hello Branko

I am happy (indeed keen) to be provided with arguments that show any mistake with my rational development. I have found in the past that each time a counter argument is provided, when one digs deeper, the model stands up, and provides even more understanding of the universe.

For example, is the(t/tp)^2 value you quote due to Lloyd's paper 'A computational universe'? His value was a (reasonable) conjecture based on existing equations as mentioned in my essay. Mine is a rationalist approach. The difference between his and mine would be nearly impossible to measure except over cosmological time scales, and would show up as a very small acceleration of the universe, as best I can tell. We do measure such an acceleration, so I'll stay with my formula. Doing so removes reliance on dark energy to account for the acceleration.

As for whether the Planck values have been constant over the life of the universe, I am interested to know how you know this. As Karen Crowther noted above, these values were identified by heuristic arguments, which can be difficult to interpret.

Best wishes


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Branko L Zivlak wrote on Feb. 4, 2018 @ 14:27 GMT
Dear Stephen

There are many attempts to quantize the mass, for example:

Paul. S. Wesson - Is the mass quantized, minimum mass is m = 2 * 10 ^ -65 g.

But with Wesson everything is approximate, or unverifiable.

Even with Wesson's values, the geometric mean is very close to Planck's mass.

You claim: the universe has 6.5 * 10 ^ 121 bits, without any explanation.

My value is very close to yours. That's 2 ^ q. Even in this essay, you can explain why your value for q = log2 (6.5 * 10 ^ 121) = 404.6537392 is better than mine (see page 1 of my essay)?

Lloyd’s 'A computational universe' is a big step towards the truth. But you can see that all values at Lloyd are approximate.

Kepler and Newton's law are approximations. As such approximations they will be valid forever. Maybe you know a better formula than Newton's approximation.

As for whether the Planck values were constant over the life of the universe, do not be confused by units of measure. What you said, the Planck values in Planak's units are exactly equal to 1, just and only in this moment. What kind of coincidence. Second, there is no life of the universe, which is a time cycle of the universe. There are registered Galaxies with age more before 13.7 billion years.

I cannot convince anyone that the use of terms such as singularity, the radiation-dominated universe, dark matter, black hole, more dimensions, scaling factor, new forces and new parameters to support the wrong theory are inconceivable. In my concept, all this is simply not necessary. I urge you to find errors in my calculations on the GS Journal published articles.



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Author Stephen James Anastasi wrote on Feb. 4, 2018 @ 23:57 GMT
Hi Branko

The explanation as to how my model implies 6.5 x 10^121 bits is explained in detail in my essay. I'm not sure how you came to think it was not explained. Let me know if there is something that is not making it clear for your.

Wesson - can you provide a reference?

I don't see how the geometrical mean does other than identify a relationship. It doesn't seem to pick out anything fundamental.

My comments on Newton and Kepler stand. Even as an approximation, there is no justification for thinking they will hold forever. Even now they don't because galaxies are moving apart under the action of an expanding and accelerating universe.

Just because we can correlate the Planck values to 1, doesn't mean anything. Whether they change would depend on the nature of experiments that determined G etc. However, I recognise this needs more thought. In the past I have found that when something seems to question my work, such as issues relating to the Planck mass considered here, more thought has shown that the foundations are not well understood, and this model along with the GPE seems to show the way. Remember that the Harmony Set is developed completely from an a priori origin, built by the action of a single necessary principle. As such, it ought to be epistemically superior to the revisionist methods of empiricism.


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Branko L Zivlak wrote on Feb. 5, 2018 @ 15:58 GMT
Dear Stephen

Is Mass Quantized? Paul S. Wesson

Scott Funkhouser - A New Large-Number Coincidence and a Scaling Law for the Cosmological Constant

You have no reference for t / tp = 8.08 * 10 ^ 60, the real value is 7.99 * 10 ^ 60, from there is a small difference. The huge difference between your vision and my is that my approach is simpler. It's enough to know one dimensionalles value to calculate the time cycle of the universe, the number of bits in the universe, the ratio of the Planck mass and the mass of the proton, very precisely without using the word approximately. It is not necessary to presuppose the expansion of the universe, and many others in your essay.



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Author Stephen James Anastasi replied on Feb. 6, 2018 @ 00:59 GMT
Thanks Branko

The difference between our essays is that your calculations and conjectures are ultimately derived empirically. Mine is founded on an a priori argument that is wholly rationalist in the initial derivation, for which the present essay aim to connect the (rationally derived) Harmony Set to current (empirically derived) picture of the universe. This is covered in my "It from Bit" essay which shows why there is a universe at all, and how it ought to evolve if the world accords with reason. Oddly, not too many understand the import of this. I'll state it explicitly and in capital letters: MY WORK SHOWS WHY THERE IS A UNIVERSE AT ALL. MY WORK SHOWS WHY THE UNIVERSE IS AS IT IS AND WHY THE WORLD IS AS IT IS AND THE FOUNDATIONS FOR TIME AND SPACE. MY WORK SHOWS WHAT BREATHES FIRE INTO THE EQUATIONS WE USE. The current essay, following from my previous, seeks to show a correlation between contemporary physics and the Harmony Set.

I don't care much about the 8.08 vs 7.99, as my adventure is to explain what time is, not how much of it has past. Again, what time is, is covered in my previous essay.

I hope this makes my intent clearer


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Terry Bollinger wrote on Feb. 11, 2018 @ 13:03 GMT
Stephen James Anastasi,

First, my essay contestant pledge is here: . I assess essays as if they were submissions to the FQXi theme "What is [meant by] 'Fundamental'?" Positive aspects of your essay include:

-- Orderly, well-written, and clear argumentation of your points. Nice!

-- Good research into and summary of issues, with your initial pointed and very compact summary of Planck world limits being a good example.[1]

-- Development of an interesting theory, your Harmony Set, with a well-defined (graphical) interpretation. I like that it's not hand-wavy, but I did not attempt to explore your full explanation in your references.

-- You have some intriguing ideas along the way, such as your 'cold bang' and proposal of some kind of Bose-Einstein condensate.

Negative aspects of your essay include:

-- You ignored the actual FQXi question, and instead used the word 'fundamental' as an excuse to expand on your own past theoretical work. FQXi asked essayists to explain better what makes a concept or idea more 'fundamental'. Your essay instead expands on a specific theory, your Harmony Set, apparently on the basis that you feel this theory is more 'fundamental' than other theories.

-- From a physics viewpoint, I was uncertain whether or not you were proposing that the fundamental constants of our universe are constantly evolving. Astronomical data would at the very least place extremely tight limits on the degree to which constants could change.

Overall: Nice essay, certainly more interesting than almost any string theory paper, but also not really relevant to the theme of the essay contest this year.


Terry Bollinger

[1] Fair disclosure: I do not believe in the physical reality of the Planck limit, since to um, nit-pick, I am not aware of any physical process that has been proposed that could reach the flea-egg energy scales required.

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Author Stephen James Anastasi replied on Feb. 13, 2018 @ 11:53 GMT
Hi Terry

On reflection, I see that I missed the line about talking about what fundamental really means. I would say that the nature of my work is so endpoint fundamental (see my essay in the 'It from Bit' competition, that discussing the meaning of the word seems a little late.

I don't really mind about the winning or losing the competition. It is just nice to have a forum where foundations can be considered and some feedback provided. Sadly, so far I have received little feedback on my core theme. Maybe I go too deep for an essay format.

Best wishes


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Author Stephen James Anastasi replied on Feb. 13, 2018 @ 11:56 GMT
Just a note. The Planck mass is not a limit. It is just one of those odd numbers that pops up in quantum physics that no one (outside my own theory) has been able to explain. I guess that means I have met your Challenge 3 at two levels now, assuming my reasoning is correct (and it is).

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Terry Bollinger wrote on Feb. 13, 2018 @ 14:54 GMT

Since I just made some long comments under my Essay 3099 thread, I’ll keep these brief:

-- Wow, you are not by any means the only one who read this as a contest for submitting physics theories. I started wondering if I was misreading it! But I think they were serious, and I have this suspicion that the next FQXi phase of evaluation will take the theme pretty seriously. But that’s just my guess.

-- You know, I actually found your new essay (essay 3014, year 2017) easier to read. Your older one (essay 1904, year 2013) started out with a lot of new terms.

-- Heh! I’m not the one you need to convince about Challenge 3. But replacing the Standard Model will require a lot of detail in any case, even at its Kolmogorov limit. The conciseness must still capture and generate the entire observational data model, which is a lot of detail for the particles we know.



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Steve Dufourny wrote on Feb. 20, 2018 @ 14:12 GMT
Hello Mr Anastasi,

Relevant, I like specially how youn try to unify G c h pi which are in fact at my humble opinion the road to find this quantum gravitation.I liked also your bose Einstein condensate , I have consider also that this cold can aswer to this quantum weakest force if we insert also this dark matter probably in the cold, like if our standard model was encircled by the cold gravitation. It was a pleasure to read your essay.

Best Regards

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Author Stephen James Anastasi replied on Feb. 22, 2018 @ 22:16 GMT
Thank you Steve. I'm presently working to see how this connects to General Relativity. It does, if the ratio of the information/mass-energy in the model and the topology that expresses the connectiveness (shown as various tensors in GR) is a constant (G). Of course, this would imply that Einstein's field equations are evolutionary because this model does not start with infinite density at a point.

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Steve Dufourny replied on Feb. 23, 2018 @ 10:52 GMT
You are welcome.All this is very interesting Mr Anastasi,It is important because the evolution due to encodings is a main parameter to take into account.Thanks for sharing,

Best Regards

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adel sadeq wrote on Feb. 22, 2018 @ 23:58 GMT
Hi Stephen,

I had almost given up on this contest until I saw your essay sifting through for the last time I thought. Actually, after I saw your essay then I remembered that I had seen it before, it was from "it from bit", but I think it was too late to contact you and the matter was forgotten.

As I hope you will see my idea is very close to yours but put in somewhat...

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adel sadeq replied on Feb. 23, 2018 @ 00:06 GMT
something went wrong with attachment so I try again

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adel sadeq replied on Feb. 23, 2018 @ 00:10 GMT
another try

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adel sadeq replied on Feb. 23, 2018 @ 00:12 GMT
I give up. If you give me your email, then i will send it to you.

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Steven Andresen wrote on Feb. 23, 2018 @ 13:06 GMT
Dear Stephen

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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