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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.

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Previous Contests

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

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How Should Humanity Steer the Future?
January 9, 2014 - August 31, 2014
Contest Partners: Jaan Tallinn, The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, The John Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American
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It From Bit or Bit From It
March 25 - June 28, 2013
Contest Partners: The Gruber Foundation, J. Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American
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Questioning the Foundations
Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?
May 24 - August 31, 2012
Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, SubMeta, and Scientific American
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Is Reality Digital or Analog?
November 2010 - February 2011
Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation and Scientific American
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What's Ultimately Possible in Physics?
May - October 2009
Contest Partners: Astrid and Bruce McWilliams
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The Nature of Time
August - December 2008
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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Steven Andresen: on 2/22/18 at 8:56am UTC, wrote Dear Matt If you are looking for another essay to read and rate in the...

Kamal Rajpal: on 2/14/18 at 18:48pm UTC, wrote Dear Matt Visser, Einstein was right when he did not agree with the EPR...

Peter Jackson: on 2/10/18 at 15:19pm UTC, wrote Matt, Lovely essay, excellent characterisation of all it touched on. Thank...

Satyavarapu Gupta: on 2/6/18 at 0:07am UTC, wrote Respected Prof Matt Visser, You wrote in your Abstract...." These...

Joe Fisher: on 1/24/18 at 17:24pm UTC, wrote Dear Professor Matt Visser, Reliable evidence exists that the surface of...

Jeffrey Schmitz: on 1/24/18 at 16:09pm UTC, wrote Nicely done essay, the use of quotes was the best I seen, too often quotes...

Lawrence Crowell: on 1/24/18 at 15:29pm UTC, wrote Your essay makes an interesting point about whether we can ever find...

Heinrich Luediger: on 1/24/18 at 14:42pm UTC, wrote Dear Matt, the basic illness of modern physics is in its misinterpretation...


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FQXi FORUM
August 25, 2019

CATEGORY: FQXi Essay Contest - Spring, 2017 [back]
TOPIC: What is fundamental? by Matt Visser [refresh]
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Author Matt Visser wrote on Jan. 23, 2018 @ 19:57 GMT
Essay Abstract

Our collective views regarding the question "what is fundamental?" are continually evolving. These ontological shifts in what we regard as fundamental are largely driven by theoretical advances ("what can we calculate?"), and experimental advances ("what can we measure?"). Rarely (in my view) is epistemology the fundamental driver; more commonly epistemology reacts (after a few decades) to what is going on in the theoretical and experimental zeitgeist.

Author Bio

Matt Visser is a professor of mathematics at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. He has published extensively on topics ranging over cosmology, quantum physics, and general relativity. Specific topics he has worked on include Lorentzian wormholes, analogue spacetimes, and cosmographic approaches to cosmology.

Download Essay PDF File

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Francesco D'Isa wrote on Jan. 24, 2018 @ 07:22 GMT
Dear Matt,

I enjoyed reading your essay, it offers an interesting historical perspective and worths a good rate. The use you do of the quotes remember me a book by Imre Toth, "No!" – I'm sure you will love it if you haven't read, it's a sort of dialogue about euclidean geometry composed entirely by quotes.

Bests,

Francesco D'Isa

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Heinrich Luediger wrote on Jan. 24, 2018 @ 14:42 GMT
Dear Matt,

the basic illness of modern physics is in its misinterpretation of ‘unification’ as the search for the ‘One’ rather than ‘Oneness’. Mathematics does a much better job: it keeps its various branches separated although it often seems as if they were somehow connected, i.e. form a whole. Hence progress in one if its branches may well have effect on or create insight in another branch without, however, eliciting ideas of reducing one to the other. Rather, I think, is mathematics organized like the human senses between which zero correlation prevails thus allowing them to be integrated in Oneness. In other words, physical unification is overdetermining the phenomena – TOE is not a tactical but a strategic escape from ‘realty’.

Heinrich

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Lawrence B. Crowell wrote on Jan. 24, 2018 @ 15:29 GMT
Your essay makes an interesting point about whether we can ever find foundations that in effect close physics and cosmology as a finished, or finished FAPP, subject. I have pondered this matter, and suspect the apparent difficulties with reconciling classical information of a measurement with quantum mechanics may be an aspect of Goedel incompleteness where quantum states are encoding information...

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Jeffrey Michael Schmitz wrote on Jan. 24, 2018 @ 16:09 GMT
Nicely done essay, the use of quotes was the best I seen, too often quotes just brake the flow and the formatting was wonderful. This is the first essay of this topic I have read, so I will not rate this essay until I have read others. Your problem is the same as mine “how the #@$% can I write about fundamental?” From you bio I see that you are a mathematician, this reminds me of solving integrals by using a Fourier transform to change space going around the pole then Fourier transform back again to get the answer. You seemed to change the space of the debate went around the issue then came back again.

Jeff Schmitz

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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Feb. 6, 2018 @ 00:07 GMT
Respected Prof Matt Visser,

You wrote in your Abstract...." These ontological shifts in what we regard as fundamental are largely driven by theoretical advances ("what can we calculate?"), and experimental advances ("what can we measure?")." a wonderful idea and analysis....

Here in my essay energy to mass conversion is proposed...……..….. yours is very nice essay best wishes...

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Peter Jackson wrote on Feb. 10, 2018 @ 15:19 GMT
Matt,

Lovely essay, excellent characterisation of all it touched on. Thank you for a nice respite from some very different efforts.

Have you addressed the issue of finding the Lagrangion of QM? I hope you may carefully read my essay and consider if a new (old mechanical ontological methods!) approach looks possible. I (Also see Declan Trails matching code & CSHS >2 plot)

Very Best

Peter

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Kamal L Rajpal wrote on Feb. 14, 2018 @ 18:48 GMT
Dear Matt Visser,

Einstein was right when he did not agree with the EPR experiment conclusions and had said, “spooky action at a distance” cannot occur and that, “God does not play dice”. Please read Linear Polarization http://vixra.org/pdf/1303.0174v5.pdf

I also request you to read my essay on wave-particle and electron spin at: 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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Steven Andresen wrote on Feb. 22, 2018 @ 08:56 GMT
Dear Matt

If you are looking for another essay to read and rate in the final days of the contest, will you consider mine please? I read all essays from those who comment on my page, and if I cant rate an essay highly, then I don’t rate them at all. Infact I haven’t issued a rating lower that ten. So you have nothing to lose by having me read your essay, and everything to...

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