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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Luca Valeri: on 2/26/18 at 22:46pm UTC, wrote Dear Noson, I enjoyed your essay a lot. Indeed the perception of order is...

Noson Yanofsky: on 2/25/18 at 15:17pm UTC, wrote Hi, I do not think the universe is totally disordered. My point in my...

Don Limuti: on 2/24/18 at 21:43pm UTC, wrote Dear Jochen, Is Maxwell's demon (us) pulling order out of disorder? Would...

Steven Andresen: on 2/22/18 at 8:38am UTC, wrote Dear Noson If you are looking for another essay to read and rate in the...

John Merryman: on 2/21/18 at 3:51am UTC, wrote Professor Yanofsky, The basic order I see in the universe is...

Cristinel Stoica: on 2/21/18 at 0:00am UTC, wrote Dear Noson, Very good essay! Indeed, without our ability to perceive order...

Steve Dufourny: on 2/16/18 at 14:08pm UTC, wrote Hello Professor Yanofsky, Congratulations for your essayj, I liked a lot, ...

James Hoover: on 2/15/18 at 23:43pm UTC, wrote Noson, As time grows short, I recheck those that I have commented on to...


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FQXi FORUM
July 19, 2019

CATEGORY: FQXi Essay Contest - Spring, 2017 [back]
TOPIC: The Perception of Order by Noson S. Yanofsky [refresh]
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Author Noson S. Yanofsky wrote on Jan. 25, 2018 @ 17:23 GMT
Essay Abstract

Over the millennia, various objects, laws, and concepts have been considered fundamental. These fundamentals were thought to produce or generate everything. With time, most of the alleged fundamentals were shown to have been derived from other, deeper fundamentals. There is, however, one concept that has always withstood the test of time: the perception of order. Scientists have the ability to observe the seemingly chaotic universe around them and perceive order. We describe two methods that are used to determine such order. The paper closes with the consideration of this perception of order as being the only true fundamental.

Author Bio

Noson S. Yanofsky has a Ph.D. in mathematics (category theory). He is a professor of computer science at Brooklyn College of The City University of New York. In addition to writing research papers he also co-authored “Quantum Computing for Computer Scientists” (Cambridge University Press, 2008). He authored “The Outer Limits of Reason: What Science, Mathematics, and Logic Cannot Tell Us” (MIT Press 2013). He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and four children.

Download Essay PDF File

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DIOGENES AYBAR wrote on Jan. 26, 2018 @ 17:34 GMT
Dear Noson;

I perceive your essay as a very didactic document to introduce the concept of Fundamental for science and philosophy; and to introduce the concept of order and disorder; which is the basis for studying reality. Without order no regularity (no natural law) would exist. So the fact that science and philosophy exist underlies the recognition that order exists, because that is what both science and philosophy study. Your essay is just an introduction to the topic.

Yours;

Diogenes

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Author Noson S. Yanofsky replied on Jan. 28, 2018 @ 22:29 GMT
Dear Diogenes,

I agree with what you are saying. The anthropic principle says that the fact that we exist (to observe order) means that there is order. But that really does not explain why there is order. I am not arguing with that. My point is that we observe order and that even if there were no order, we would still observe order.

All the best,

Noson

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John Brodix Merryman wrote on Jan. 27, 2018 @ 01:39 GMT
Professor Yanofsky,

What if reality is a dichotomy of energy and form(order)? That energy manifests form and form defines energy. That form doesn't exist in a void and energy is inherently finite and thus always expressing form, like frequency and amplitude.

Consider that after a few billion years of evolution, we evolved a central nervous system to process information and the...

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Jan. 27, 2018 @ 09:33 GMT
Dear Noson S. Yanofsky,

I enjoyed your essay and your emphasis on "how the laws of nature are found", essentially through our ability to perceive 'patterns' or 'symmetrical order'.

Your discussion of various instances was appropriate, and your discussion of "the nature of the laws of nature" thought-provoking. But for me the most powerful part of your essay was the use of a random matrix and filters to extract or expose order so easily. I'm very impressed by this example. The patterns are indeed worth thousands of words.

I hope you will read my current essay and comment on it.

My very best regards,

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Author Noson S. Yanofsky replied on Jan. 28, 2018 @ 22:36 GMT
Dear E.E. Klingman,

Thank you for the kind words. I too was shocked how much order was found in a random matrix. I did a lot of other experiments with it. It is hard to find a random matrix that does not have any pattern.

I look forward to reading your essay.

All the best,

Noson

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Jochen Szangolies wrote on Jan. 27, 2018 @ 13:37 GMT
Dear Noson,

I'm very happy to see your contribution to this contest. You highlight a number of important issues that are often glossed over, regarding the question of how we can come up with theories of physics in the first place---as you say, there must be certain kinds of order for this to happen. In a sense, this makes our world very special---it seems like there are many worlds that one could imagine where no such order is present; 'high entropy'-worlds in a meta-sense.

I like the distinction you draw between symmetrical and ensemble order. There seems to be the possibility for an iterative process of increased understanding: a given ensemble might be one PPP in a set of PPPs related by a symmetry (sort of 'zooming out' the point of view), while that set itself might be a new ensemble.

Perhaps it's by such an iterated process that higher levels of order can be extracted from the underlying chaos: there is, first, an ensemble of 'regular' strings, we can group into certain classes---repetitions, sequences, digits of pi, and so on. The ensemble of such classes may then have additional regularities, which again can be grouped... And so on.

There are intriguing examples of how laws can emerge from random processes, too---all that's needed is that the progression towards higher entropy can be described by an effective regularity. Johannes Koelmann gives and interesting example of this type with his mikado universe, which illustrates how an increase in entropy may lead to a law of attraction between two 'voids' in a universe of 'strands' that may be on or off.

Thanks for an intriguing essay. I hope you'll find some time to have a look at mine---I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts!

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Author Noson S. Yanofsky replied on Feb. 12, 2018 @ 06:38 GMT
Dear Jochen,

It is nice to talk to you again.

In the paper I talk a little about using the two ways of finding order together. I had not thought of it as a hierarchy. That is very interesting.

I look forward to reading your paper.

All the best,

Noson

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Jochen Szangolies replied on Feb. 15, 2018 @ 12:02 GMT
Dear Noson,

the prospect of getting laws out of some process of emergence seems a motivating factor in several of the essays in this contest. It's an attractive idea: after all, everything else can only react with a shrug when asked 'but why this?'. And how could laws be fundamental if they need further justification?

Markus Müller has an interesting take on this, with a subjectivist (almost phenomenologist) bent, if you haven't read his essay.

Also, if you find the time, I'd be very interested in hearing your thoughts on my own contribution!

Cheers,

Jochen

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Gary Valentine Hansen wrote on Jan. 27, 2018 @ 22:59 GMT
I suggest that ‘Order’ (as arrangement), seen or unseen, is always present as an inevitable fact of nature. Everything is in order at all times, albeit continuously changeable. It is ‘Patterns’ rather than ‘Order’ that are subjective perceptions (or what you call illusions) that differ and to which we each attach different degrees of significance.

Concerning the term ‘Fundamental’, the concept may be used in reference to the essential constituent of a specific phenomenon; or to infer a universal foundation underlying everything. It is important to realize that this distinction is not obvious in reading the FQXi essay contest subject and, in its absence, each contributor is free to elect which (fundamental) path to take.

While symmetry is familiar to all of us, to designate it as a ‘law of nature’ is a bit of a stretch. Look around, has anybody ever seen a symmetrical tree? Perhaps ‘approximate equilibrium’ is a more fitting descriptor of this perception (or order if you prefer).

Further, we need to examine the question of there being ‘laws’ of nature. Insofar as laws are generally regarded as being finite, any given circumstance either complying or not; a better, more moderate way to describe the governing influences bearing upon nature would suggest that nature is directed by ‘principles’ that accommodate flexibility.

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Author Noson S. Yanofsky replied on Feb. 12, 2018 @ 06:43 GMT
Dear Gary,

Thank you for taking an interest in my paper.

I agree with you that symmetry is not a law of nature. It seems to be a meta-law of nature. I.e. all laws of nature must have invariance or symmetry.

I also am not arguing with your other points. They are mostly definitions. How can a definition be wrong? But I am not sure most people use the words the way you use them.

I look forward to reading your essay.

All the best,

Noson

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Francesco D'Isa wrote on Jan. 29, 2018 @ 21:31 GMT
Dear Noson,

thank for sharing your essay, which I found very interesting. The idea of the necessity of order within chaos due a large amount of facts is very stimulating.

You write that,

> The order that we see is only an illusion. However, this ability to have such an illusion is real and very fundamental.

and

> In conclusion, it is not strange to find some patterns in our random matrix. Similarly, it is not strange that we find order in the world around us.

Following your thoughts I was wondering if we should consider more fundamental chaos, instead of one of the many orders who emerge from it. Moreover, things would change drastically if that "chaos" would be infinite, instead of "very huge"...

Good luck with the contest, your essay is worthy for sure!

Francesco

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Author Noson S. Yanofsky replied on Feb. 12, 2018 @ 06:48 GMT
Dear Francesco,

Thank you for taking an interest in my paper.

I very carefully avoid saying the universe is chaotic. There definitely seems like there is a lot of structure in the universe. My point is that even if the universe was chaotic, we would still find structure in it.

I look forward to reading your essay.

All the best,

Noson

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Francesco D'Isa replied on Feb. 13, 2018 @ 11:57 GMT
Dear Noson,

thank you very much for your answer! Yes, I agree. But if the universe is chaotic, even if we would still find structure in it, that chaos would be more fundamental, or not?

All the best!

Francesco

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James Lee Hoover wrote on Jan. 30, 2018 @ 06:13 GMT
Noson,

"Our perception of order is the only true fundamental" you conclude. One perceives order in symmetry and the other in ensemble, but are only subjective. My reasoning is similar in that I believe the fundamental does not exist without the consciousness of the sentient being and the subject or concept being investigated. The fundamental being absolutely necessary for existence, it does not exist without perception.

I would assume you might say that that illusion does not exist without the observer since the fundamental is only perception. I would like to hear you views on mine as well.

Jim Hoover

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Author Noson S. Yanofsky replied on Feb. 12, 2018 @ 06:49 GMT
Thank you.

I look forward to reading your paper. I will comment on it.

All the best,

Noson

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Member Tejinder Pal Singh wrote on Feb. 11, 2018 @ 16:08 GMT
Dear Prof. Yanofsky,

It was a pleasure to read your essay. I totally agree with you that symmetries will be our guiding principle in finding deeper physical laws. On the one hand the unification of interactions, and on the other hand, finding a theory of quantum gravity, will reveal newer symmetries. I also feel geometry will play a central role - we see a greater and greater progress towards generalized geometries, non-commutative geometry being one example.

Do you think there are ultimate building blocks of matter? I am also curious whether for you mathematics is Platonic, or is it a mental model on which everyone is in agreement?

My best wishes,

Tejinder

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Author Noson S. Yanofsky replied on Feb. 11, 2018 @ 16:35 GMT
Hi,

Thanks for reading my essay.

I Am all for geometry.... But I do not want to make a prediction.

I do not see a reason to be Platonic about mathematics. There are a lot of other ways of understanding it. I wrote an FQXI essay about that. It is called "Why Mathematics Works So Well" and is here https://arxiv.org/abs/1506.08426.

All the best,

Noson

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Flavio Del Santo wrote on Feb. 14, 2018 @ 00:50 GMT
Dear Prof. Yanofsky,

I found your essay very enjoyable and well argued. I find very nice your idea of moving away the focus from the "usual suspects", namely from a reduction of more and more "fundamental", in fact smaller, components. Your proposition of looking for the order, seems most interesting to me. I give your essay the higest rating.

I would be most thankful if find the time to have a look at my essay as well and give me your opinion.

All the best,

Flavio

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Terry Bollinger wrote on Feb. 15, 2018 @ 18:59 GMT
Professor Yanofsky,

[My pledge: goo.gl/KCCujt] First my positive reactions:

-- Very nicely written! It is entertaining and easy to read, with a really nice and accurate mathematical and physics history intro.

-- Definitely novel! The path you took was definitely not any path I was expecting, which is exactly why I liked it and feel you are exploring the kind of new approach...

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James Lee Hoover wrote on Feb. 15, 2018 @ 23:43 GMT
Noson,

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

Hope you can get a chance to look at mine.

Jim Hoover

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Steve Dufourny wrote on Feb. 16, 2018 @ 14:08 GMT
Hello Professor Yanofsky,

Congratulations for your essayj, I liked a lot,

spherically yours :)

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Cristinel Stoica wrote on Feb. 21, 2018 @ 00:00 GMT
Dear Noson,

Very good essay! Indeed, without our ability to perceive order science would not be possible. We perceive order because we are trained to find patterns. But is it possible that there is no order out there? Could it all be in our heads? I think it is true that our theories show that the order we see has a strong subjective component, that we project it over whatever is out there....

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Author Noson S. Yanofsky replied on Feb. 25, 2018 @ 15:17 GMT
Hi,

I do not think the universe is totally disordered. My point in my essay is that even if it was totally disordered, we would still see order. My point is also that the laws that do describe the universe are not as simple as people may think. They are more subjective than the usual view.

I will look at your essay and comment.

All the best,

Noson

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John Brodix Merryman wrote on Feb. 21, 2018 @ 03:51 GMT
Professor Yanofsky,

The basic order I see in the universe is thermodynamics. The basis of this is energy expanding out, as structure precipitates in.

Consider galaxies are radiation expanding out, as mass coalesces in.

Human societies are organic and social energies expanding out, as cultural, civil and economic structures coalesce inward, giving form and structure to these...

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Steven Andresen wrote on Feb. 22, 2018 @ 08:38 GMT
Dear Noson

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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Don Limuti wrote on Feb. 24, 2018 @ 21:43 GMT
Dear Jochen,

Is Maxwell's demon (us) pulling order out of disorder?

Would I be correct to say: We are the order makers, and frequently we like to place the blame elsewhere. So, I can think of my essay as an attempt at order making. Take a look and let me know what you think :)

Thanks for a most thought provoking essay.

Don Limuti

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Luca Valeri wrote on Feb. 26, 2018 @ 22:46 GMT
Dear Noson,

I enjoyed your essay a lot. Indeed the perception of order is fundamental. And is the order in the perceived or in the perceiver or in both? And what is the perceiver? A self aware being, an animal, tree? Or even a crystal or an electron?

I would like to think the order lies in both: in the relation of the perceived and the perceiver. While from a realistic point of view, the order lies in the perceived, and we just have to discover it, I like to think, that the perception of order is a condition that allows us to name things. A condition, that makes the realistic view possible as experience.

I also like to think that also things can perceive order. The electro magnetic field carries the information of the location and velocities of the charges. The connection between the properties of the charges and the field is trough the gauche invariance of the law, which defines the interaction.

If I could, I would derive all physics from symmetries: 1. Free particles as irreducible representations of the symmetries.

2. Interactions from measurability criteria for the properties given in 1. And 3. derive properties of the environment, that allows to describe 1. and 2. as closed system (separability of the environment).

However the real miracle is our ability to perceive order in totally random events. I think, I speculated in my essay, that this is connected to free will. In the perception and conceptualization of order I see a creation of new concepts, of new things. This could be described as an act of free will.

Good luck in the contest. Your essay is certainly one that I liked most.

Luca

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