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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Markus Mueller: on 3/13/18 at 9:41am UTC, wrote You are posting extremely strong opinions about some topics without a clear...

Juan Ramón González Álvarez: on 3/11/18 at 21:19pm UTC, wrote "Philosophers have long been arguing about how to best define the...

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FQXi FORUM
August 14, 2018

CATEGORY: FQXi Essay Contest - Spring, 2017 [back]
TOPIC: Mind before matter: reversing the arrow of fundamentality by Markus P Mueller [refresh]
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Author Markus P Mueller wrote on Jan. 29, 2018 @ 21:34 GMT
Essay Abstract

We often hold strong intuitions about what is fundamental (“A is obviously more fundamental than B”), but sometimes, on second thought, a reversal of that judgement suggests itself (“ah, it’s after all possible that B is more fundamental than A!”). Such a change of perspective can yield fruitful new insights, as the example of noncommutative geometry demonstrates. Here I propose that we should consider a similar reversal in our understanding of the relation between the “mind” and the “world”, and take the idea seriously that some notion of the former is more fundamental than the latter. I argue that such a view, if properly analyzed, leads to a surprising kind of “strange loop”: even though it is ultimately more fundamental, the mind can still consistently be regarded as causally supervening on the world. This novel perspective might help to clarify some conceptual problems in the foundations of physics.

Author Bio

Markus Mueller is a Junior Research Group Leader at the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information in Vienna, and a Visiting Fellow (former Associate Faculty member) at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo. He has held postdoctoral positions in Potsdam and Waterloo before starting his first research group at Heidelberg University. He has subsequently spent two years as an Assistant Professor and Canada Research Chair in the Foundations of Physics at the University of Western Ontario before moving to his current position in Vienna.

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Jan. 30, 2018 @ 04:18 GMT
Dear Markus Mueller,

You observe that orthodoxy is largely based on 'the lesson of Copernicus'. I address a specific instance of this in my essay which reviews the historical basis of special relativity.

You further note that "the orthodox view is incomplete", which is almost the basis upon which FQXi contests are held. I, and many participants in these contests, believe as you appear to that mind does not 'emerge' from matter. My previous essays have proposed that consciousness is the essential nature of a field, indivisibly merging awareness and matter. I have found it valuable to investigate the self-interaction that arises in such case, and I give you an example here.

As is quite popular today, you suggest a 'brain scan' that results in a "perfect copy" of one's brain in the form of a computer simulation. Since computers are logical machines, this has the effect of building a logical model of the mind. Many, if not most approaches to modeling the mind call on such simulations.

But if consciousness is truly associated with the self-interactive field, then it is not just the logic of synaptic firings, but it is the dynamical 3D field interactions that accompany the flows in axons and neurons, and that simply cannot be captured in a software simulation. Thus I hold out no hope for this approach.

This is presented as an aside; I do not interpret your essay as depending on the ability to simulate the mind. Certainly clever logical simulations exist and will continue to be built. But if the fundamental reality you suggest actually exists, it won't be copied.

I invite you to read my essay and comment.

Best regards, and good luck in the contest,

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Author Markus P Mueller replied on Feb. 3, 2018 @ 13:43 GMT
Dear Edwin Eugene,

thanks very much for reading and for your comments! I'm going to read your essay once I'll be back from vacation.

To respond to what you wrote above, I think it's interesting to thjnk of consciousness as some kind of "self-interaction". Still I don't see why this would have anything to say about simulatability. As soon as you talk about axons and neurons, you talk about physical systems that, as far as we know, are subject to computable laws of nature.

But I'll look at your essay to see the arguments in more detail.

Kind regards, and good luck to you too!

Markus

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Andrew Beckwith wrote on Jan. 30, 2018 @ 13:03 GMT
quote

In other words, since that emergent world corresponds to a simple algorithm which represents an excellent

compression of the observer’s probabilistic state changes, we can regard its functioning as the causal

background structure that gives rise to what the observer sees. Thus, we can use it to obtain algorithmic

or “mechanistic” explanations for the observer’s states (including evolutionary explanations), but we may

want to keep in mind that this causal background algorithm is ultimately itself not fundamental.

end of quote

My nit with this is simple. You are assuming that the process of measurement is inheriently dependent upon the algorithm of investigation is not fundamental.

Why I find this hard to believe. It is in the matter of the independence of physical law from a given reference frame

I.e. the algorithmic search protocol is fundamental if it is INDEPENDENT of the reference frame used, in order to investigate foundational physics laws.

Aside from that I enjoyed your essay and invite you to look at mine and remark on it, as given in December 21st

Andrew

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Author Markus P Mueller replied on Feb. 3, 2018 @ 14:25 GMT
Dear Andrew,

thanks very much for your interest and for the comment.

Unfortunately, I have some trouble understanding your argument. Especially, when you write: "You are assuming that the process of measurement is inheriently dependent upon the algorithm of investigation is not fundamental."

It's not clear to me what you mean. Maybe you can clarify?

Thank you,

Markus

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Francesco D'Isa wrote on Jan. 30, 2018 @ 13:30 GMT
Dear Markus,

congratulations for your essay, which I found one of the best here, it conveys very interesting ideas and it's very well-written (and touching, as well).

You write that:

> Postulate 1 tells us that algorithmic probability determines what happens to an observer, and the right-hand side can be seen as a consequence of this: the properties of algorithmic probability imply that some notion of external world emerges. But, by the very definition of what this means, this emergent external world gives an excellent description of what happens to the observer, since its configuration evolves under the same probabilities as the observer’s state.

I completely agree – in my essay there's the same idea (§2) applied to causality, as a consequence of Nagarjuna's philosophy.

In the end you state that:

> If the ideas above contain a grain of truth, then the mind may ultimately be more fundamental than the world.

But following your ideas, should't world and mind be, so to say, at par?

All the best,

Francesco D'Isa

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Author Markus P Mueller replied on Feb. 3, 2018 @ 13:50 GMT
Dear Francesco,

thanks very much for your kind words.

I'm on vacation now, but I'll surely look at your essay once I'm back.

Regarding your final question/comment, in a way I agree -- both are "on par", which is what I also write in the last section. I would say, both viewpoints (world being more fundamental than mind, or vice versa) are suitable for different kinds of questions that we may ask. For the question implicitly raised in prequel/sequel, I'd say that the latter (not the former) is the more relevant viewpoint.

Thanks again,

Markus

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Francesco D'Isa replied on Feb. 4, 2018 @ 10:10 GMT
Dear Markus,

thank you for your answer. Yes, that's the “strange loop” you quoted in the 5th paragraph, I agree – also with what you say about the prequel/sequel question.

All the best!

Francesco

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Member Tejinder Pal Singh wrote on Jan. 30, 2018 @ 14:55 GMT
Dear Professor Mueller,

Your essay is profound, and deeply intriguing.

I would like to understand better the analogy of the mind-matter arrow with the nice example of non-commutative geometry that you give.

When one maps from an ordinary geometry to the algebra of functions; and generalises this to a non-commutative algebra and maps back, one gets a non-commutative space, a non-commutative geometry. The properties of this geometry are entirely different from the geometry one started with. I suppose we can say the two geometries are inequivalent? One could perhaps think of thought experiments / actual experiments which would distinguish the two geometries.

When you talk of Wheeler's mind-matter loop, do you also suggest that the mind to matter arrow is experimentally distinguishable, in principle, from the matter to mind arrow? That would be fascinating, if it were to be so. I am not quite clear if the mind to matter arrow is equivalent to the matter to mind arrow, or inequivalent?

My thanks, and best wishes to you in this essay contest, and warmest wishes for Nadine, in whichever world she is ...

Tejinder

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Author Markus P Mueller replied on Feb. 3, 2018 @ 14:00 GMT
Dear Tejinder,

thanks very much for your kind comment!

Regarding the question that you raised, I'd argue as follows. First, in the example of non-commutative geometry, the non-commutative version of spacetime that we get (in particular if it correctly describes physics) will still look pretty much like an "ordinary" spacetime, in some regime (where we don't see any quantum gravity effects) resp. after some coarsegraining.

The idea is that the mind->matter arrow will give us something that still, in most "ordinary" regimes, looks like the physical world we are used to. Only in some extreme cases will we see differences. I don't know how experimentally accessible these would be; instead, they might manifest themselves in more subtle ways. An example in the essay is the "Boltzmann brain" issue, where the usual physics argumentation (intuitively, cosmologists simply "counting brains") would be replaced by a different argumentation based on algorithmic probability. Another example might be Wigner's friend-like scenarios, which are obviously extremely difficult to address experimentally.

I've just seen you have submitted an essay too. I'll have a look as soon as I have time.

Best wishes,

Markus

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Marcel-Marie LeBel wrote on Jan. 30, 2018 @ 15:17 GMT
Markus,

Physics studies our experience of the universe, but the universe is not made of experience. It is made of real stuff. This is a reversal of the objective - subjective points of view. All that we think is objective we make up ourselves as experience. The object of this experience (underlying reality) is in fact what is real (objective = object).

So, much of physics is about ourselves ... not the universe. The 3D is just the definition of a punctual observer ...

Best of luck,

Marcel,

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Author Markus P Mueller replied on Feb. 3, 2018 @ 14:31 GMT
Dear Marcel,

thanks for reading and for your comment! Good luck to you too!

Markus

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Lawrence B. Crowell wrote on Jan. 30, 2018 @ 17:34 GMT
Your essay is an interesting reading. It segues in part with physics because of quantum mechanics that, as you illustrate with contextuality, does not conform to a purely objective perspective on the universe. We are then in a funny situation with respect to the measurement or phenomenology of quantum mechanics an inability to completely divorce the observer from the subject of observation....

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Author Markus P Mueller replied on Feb. 3, 2018 @ 14:41 GMT
Dear Lawrence,

thanks for your comment! I agree with your skepticism of whether any of the interpretations of QM, or any of the viewpoints on the fundamentality of mind or world, is the "true" one. I think I'd just personally go one step further, and say that it's not only undecidable for us, but that there is simply no "matter of fact" to any of the alternatives over the other ones.

Best,

Markus

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Eckard Blumschein wrote on Jan. 30, 2018 @ 21:36 GMT
In the beginning was the word, and the word ...

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Stefan Weckbach wrote on Feb. 1, 2018 @ 08:01 GMT
Dear Markus Mueller,

instead of endlessly theoretizing about "what is fundamental?" you encapsulate your quest about what eventually could *not* be fundamental into a prequel and a sequel, both being very emotional. I hope that you haven't invented Nadine's story, for if it would be true, there would be a kind of hapiness within a rather abstract analysis of the orthodox worldview of hard science.

"If the ideas above contain a grain of truth, then the mind may ultimately be more fundamental than the world. And more than that: the mind may ultimately not be a prisoner of the body, or of the world, since the latter is only a convenient fiction. But then there may be hope of a kind that we have almost given up, and freedom of a kind that we have never imagined."

I think your attempt would have profited much more (not on the basis of scores, but on the basis of arguments) if you had mentioned that there are strong hints to support what you would wish to be true in the citation above. These hints are called 'near-death experiences' and are trivialized by 'hard science', despite the fact that they are able to show that conscious awareness isn't necessarily bound to the human brain / organism.

Since these are valid phenomena, i wonder why nobody in this contest takes them into account, but rather circumvent them by loosely using wordings like 'consciousness field' and other abstract things like that. At least you were brave enough to question all these abstract musings at the beginning and the end of your essay.

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Author Markus P Mueller replied on Feb. 3, 2018 @ 15:02 GMT
Dear Stefan,

thanks for reading and your comment!

No, the story of Nadine is not invented. It is true -- I've worked for a year at a day care place for blind and multiply disabled children.

You are raising an interesting point. I still think that there is a good reason that nobody mentions the experiences that you talked about. Namely, they correspond to subjective experience. Everybody should feel free to use their subjective experience (or that of other people they trust) as a guidance to this world. But scientific knowledge is still of a different kind: it is either empirically testable in a way that makes it more reliable in a specific sense, or it is based on mathematics and thus logics (if A and B are true, then C cannot be true etc.). The experiences you mentioned do not seem to be of that kind.

Otherwise, who distinguishes claims of near-death experience from simple illusions that we also sometimes encounter?

Best,

Markus

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Stefan Weckbach replied on Feb. 3, 2018 @ 20:45 GMT
Dear Markus,

thanks for your reply. I would not say that near-death experiences correspond to subjective experience. If you take a couple of people that had similar experiences, they can communicate their experiences, as well as we can communicate our subjective experiences of, say, sadness, happiness, fear, anger etc.

What distinguishes such experiences from ‘simple’ illusions...

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Author Markus P Mueller replied on Feb. 4, 2018 @ 09:04 GMT
Dear Peter,

I strongly disagree.

Of course I believe that these people *have the experience* of something that is common to many people in similar near-death circumstances. But all that this tells us is that there are similar processes in their brains that produce these experiences. It doesn't tell us in itself that our most naive interpretation of it ("looking beyond death" or something like that) is true.

In fact, people under drugs have similar experiences, and reliably so.

When you write "checked for correctness by scientists", then this is deeply misleading. No scientist can check that these experiences are a correct view into some afterlife-world. What they can check is, again statistically, that many people under similar circumstances report similar experiences.

All it tells us is that similar things are going on in their brains. It certainly does not "falsify a pure materialistic and reductionistic worldview". It shows us exactly nothing.

If you give a large number of people alcohol, many of them will report that they experience that the world is spinning around them (when they had too much and feel drowsy). This doesn't mean that the world is really spinning around them in any sense, it just means that their brains produce these experiences for biochemical reasons.

Certainly none of my arguments rely on any of those reported experiences that you mention.

Best,

Markus

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Peter Jackson wrote on Feb. 2, 2018 @ 19:29 GMT
Markus,

An ambitious undertaking, very well executed and quite uniquely interesting. Whether I'm convinced or not is another matter, not relevant or falsifiable! I certainly agree your comments on the cosmological issues.

My own essay does comment on some key matters, partly in agreement as an SR friendly QM emerges, yet both mind and matter also emerge from the simplest underlying mechanism. I hope you'll read and comment.

So yes, I think physics IS all about what's really going on in the world (universe) as John Bell did! You seemed uncertain so perhaps say if you agree after reading mine.

Nice job.

Very best

Peter

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Author Markus P Mueller replied on Feb. 3, 2018 @ 15:25 GMT
Dear Peter,

thanks for reading and commenting!

I'll make sure to read your essay when I'm back from vacation. We will see if I agree that "physics as all about what's really going on in the world". :-) I guess my answer will depend very much on the details of what this statement is supposed to mean. But I'm curious and will have a look.

Cheers,

Markus

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Peter Jackson replied on Feb. 19, 2018 @ 15:31 GMT
Markus, Thanks, (as posted in reply to your comment on mine)

The main finding, yes is an "astonishing"! classical QM. Despite beliefs John Bell did NOT show "a local realist model of a singlet state" is impossible! He showed some assumption was wrong, which I identify as JUST 'up/down spin'. Let's listen more carefully to him;

"..in my opinion...

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Steven Andresen wrote on Feb. 6, 2018 @ 05:07 GMT
Dear

Just letting you know that I am making a start on reading of your essay, and hope that you might also take a glance over mine please? I look forward to the sharing of thoughtful opinion. Congratulations on your essay rating as it stands, and best of luck for the contest conclusion.

My essay is titled

“Darwinian Universal Fundamental Origin”. It stands as a novel test for whether a natural organisational principle can serve a rationale, for emergence of complex systems of physics and cosmology. I will be interested to have my effort judged on both the basis of prospect and of novelty.

Thank you & kind regards

Steven Andresen

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Steven Andresen wrote on Feb. 6, 2018 @ 05:08 GMT
Dear Markus P Mueller

Just letting you know that I am making a start on reading of your essay, and hope that you might also take a glance over mine please? I look forward to the sharing of thoughtful opinion. Congratulations on your essay rating as it stands, and best of luck for the contest conclusion.

My essay is titled

“Darwinian Universal Fundamental Origin”. It stands as a novel test for whether a natural organisational principle can serve a rationale, for emergence of complex systems of physics and cosmology. I will be interested to have my effort judged on both the basis of prospect and of novelty.

Thank you & kind regards

Steven Andresen

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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Feb. 7, 2018 @ 12:53 GMT
Respected Prof Markus P Mueller

Nice philosophical thinking sir...... Here I propose that we should consider a similar reversal in our understanding of the relation between the “mind” and the “world”, and take the idea seriously that some notion of the former is more fundamental than the latter. I argue that such a view, if properly analyzed, leads to a surprising kind of “strange...

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Jochen Szangolies wrote on Feb. 7, 2018 @ 19:35 GMT
Dear Markus,

thanks for a highly original perspective on the notion of what's fundamental. Your illustration using noncommutative geometry to show how the arrow of fundamentality can be reversed is very insightful, as is the rest of your essay. I will certainly check out the papers in which you develop the toy theory further.

You get a lot out of relatively few assumptions. I'll have to have a look at your further papers---I'm especially interested in the 'tests' you're using. I assume they're something like the Martin-Löf tests for effective randomness, and you're essentially just saying that any 'typical' sequence will pass almost all (?) of such tests? One might wonder if this isn't a bit strong---after all, very many regularities of experience don't actually persist. I'm asleep sometimes, awake at other times. I was a boy once, now I'm a grown man. There is a lot of change---albeit, of course, one may say that the 'fundamental' level stays the same. Gravity works today the same way it did in those halcyon days of my youth, even if I may feel its effects more severely now.

But what is 'fundamental' in experience? Does gravity really hold a special place over youth, there? In a sense, you're engaged in a phenomenological project, and an important technique in phenomenology (as per Husserl) is bracketing: leaving out assumptions about what the world is 'really like'. For instance, are you entitled to the Church-Turing thesis, which in this context (as you note) is essentially a physical stipulation, if you're putting experience first?

I found this one of the more stimulating works (of those I've read) in this contest. Wishing you the best of luck!

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Author Markus P Mueller replied on Feb. 11, 2018 @ 20:46 GMT
Dear Jochen,

thanks a lot for reading and for your insightful comment!

This one sentence of yours made my day: "Gravity works today the same way it did in those halcyon days of my youth, even if I may feel its effects more severely now." :-))

I agree that the question of what is fundamental in experience is a very difficult one. I'm not trying to answer it. Instead, I'm exploring a theory where algorithmic probability is fundamental, and then the analogous question becomes a technical one: what is the best possible compression of the totality of all previous experience (in a detailed sense explained in a longer paper)? And then the answer is: the laws of nature as we know them.

Regarding your example, if we replace "being young" more concretely by "being less than 25 years old" (for example), then your question, and what it implies, is an instance of "Goodman's new riddle of induction". In the long version of my paper, I show how this apparent riddle, or paradox, is resolved in the context of algorithmic probability (and this argument doesn't even rely on my theory). You might find that interesting, or even just Goodman's riddle itself.

Best of luck for you too!

Markus

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Jochen Szangolies replied on Feb. 13, 2018 @ 18:20 GMT
Dear Markus,

I've just had a brief look at your treatment of Goodman's riddle---it's very intriguing stuff! I think one could fruitfully apply your apparatus to some related philosophical puzzles, all variously concerned with finding out what the 'true' structure of the world is. Most forms of structural realism bump up against the question of uniqueness and end up somewhat battered; in the end, one tends to find that any given structure (by which I mean something like 'set of relations') at all obtains of a given set of elements (sometimes called Newman's objection).

Ted Siders has made use of the notion of predicates that 'carve at the joints' (as Plato put it) to try and attack this problem: if a plane that's half red and half blue is divided such that all blue is on one side, and all red on the other, this seems a better fit to what that 'world' is actually like than some slanted division, into 'bled' and 'rue' objects, although the latter is not obviously wrong, once one gets to think about it (this is very similar, of course, to Goodman's 'bleen' and 'grue'). But it's very difficult to actually make the case that the latter structure is 'wrong' in some objective way, and I don't think Siders quite succeeds, because in a way, he has to appeal to the red and blue itself, which is not analyzable in terms of structure.

But if your apparatus can be used to give a definite criterion of which structure is preferable out of all the possible ways of carving up the world---or, as I suspect you would view it, that the world appears to us carved up a certain way because there exists a uniquely preferred structure that orders our experience---then I think this could be a huge boon for the program of structural realism.

Anyway, I suppose I'll just have to go and think about this for a bit!

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Author Markus P Mueller replied on Feb. 14, 2018 @ 09:06 GMT
Dear Jochen,

thanks a lot for pointing me to Ted Sider, I wasn't aware of him! I'll have a look at his argument.

The idea that (algorithmic) simplicity is relevant for analyzing Goodman's riddle has been mentioned a few times before, e.g. here: http://www.dklevine.com/archive/refs4122247000000001964.pdf

A
ll the best,

Markus

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Todd L Duncan wrote on Feb. 11, 2018 @ 23:13 GMT
Dear Dr. Mueller,

Thank you for a very insightful, poignant, and thought-provoking essay. I especially appreciate the clarity with which you articulate a balanced perspective: acknowledging the value and reasons for holding the "orthodox view" of a formal system description of the world as fundamental, while also acknowledging the many indications (the hard problem of consciousness being perhaps the most obvious) of its incompleteness. One might even argue that the orthodox view was intentionally incomplete from the start - as you point out, focusing on objective aspects of reality over the subjective opened the way to tremendous progress. We just need to remember that choosing to focus on one aspect of reality, even for good reasons, does not make the other aspects go away!

You've also nicely articulated a concrete way to explore a more balanced perspective on reality, without opening the door to an "anything goes" approach that might lose much of what we've gained with the orthodox view. Well done, and I look forward to reading more of your work and seeing how these ideas develop.

Best regards,

~ Todd

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Author Markus P Mueller replied on Feb. 12, 2018 @ 09:03 GMT
Dear Todd,

thank you so much for your kind comment!

Best regards,

Markus

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John R. Cox wrote on Feb. 15, 2018 @ 15:18 GMT
Dr. Mueller,

I am reminded of George Fitzgerald's astute observation that the speed of light is "astonishingly slow". And it is compared to instantaneous. The Glider has a flight path. The orthodox view misses Fitzgerald's profound humor, it always seems that velocity is viewed as going from zero UP to light speed. Rather, the non-commutative approach would be that instantaneous in every direction would also be in opposite directions of any direction, and light velocity emerges as the averaged constant of a root exponential mean DOWN from instantaneous at infinity. The 'occluded middle' so to speak.

Analysis, it seems to me, always needs contain an instantaneous component as expressed in some correlation to be the benchmark necessary for our mind's comprehension of experience. And in common practice, that generally prevails as an assumption of physical absolute simultaneity, which is convenience. Even information of what the parameters are that physically differentiate a zero boundary of a quantum gravitational domain distinct amid equal valued parameters of a local spacetime field, would needs be time dependent in exchange and perhaps the only valid argument for instantaneous information exchange would be ON that zero boundary.

Pardon me, I'm an old guy, and its a struggle for me to get with the ideas of information being something real. I think you illustrate in your essay something that I have always sensed. That I am distinctly me. What I attempt, I may win, and the world responds to my footstep as if summer's dust but comes to my shin. Best Wishes, jrc

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Peter Jackson wrote on Feb. 21, 2018 @ 18:58 GMT
Marcus,

I posted a response above in the Feb 3 string.

Peter

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Steven Andresen wrote on Feb. 22, 2018 @ 07:26 GMT
Dear Markus

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. 25, 2018 @ 04:04 GMT
Hello Markus,

Wow! Mind, physics, emotion. Excellent essay that would get young people interested in the "not boring" world of Physics.

A quote from Wheeler: “We are no longer satisfied with insights into particles, or fields of force, or geometry, or even space and time,” he wrote in 1981, “Today we demand of physics some understanding of existence itself.” [Reference: “The Voice of Genius: Conversations with Nobel Scientists and Other Luminaries”]

Thanks for an essay that pushes the limits,

Don Limuti

(there may still be time to take a look at my entry. I do not think you will sleep through it :)

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Author Markus P Mueller replied on Feb. 26, 2018 @ 11:18 GMT
Thanks for your kind words! I'll try to look at your essay later today.

Best,

Markus

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Juan Ramón González Álvarez wrote on Mar. 11, 2018 @ 21:19 GMT
"Philosophers have long been arguing about how to best define the scientific method", how if they had some idea about it. ;-)

"The question of consciousness is deliberately ignored". Consciousness has been matter of scientific study since decades.

"the idea that "consciousness collapses the wave function" or the proliferation of the anthropic principle" aren't simply...

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Author Markus P Mueller replied on Mar. 13, 2018 @ 09:41 GMT
You are posting extremely strong opinions about some topics without a clear idea what you are talking about, or what the people that you are criticizing are actually claiming.

Neither Wheeler nor I would endorse an "everything goes" view -- the observer can NOT WILLINGLY create "whatever she likes". If you had read Wheeler you would understand this. That in some interpretations of quantum theory, some variables don't have a value before they are measured is not in the slightest comparable to, as you wrote, "creationists insist[ing] that the fossil evidence was planted by Satan to deceive us". This view has clear explanatory power for concrete situations in the laboratory, like the security of quantum cryptography (if some variables don't have a value then they cannot be held by an eavesdropper. Clearly this has to -- and can -- be made much more rigorous).

I am a strong opponent of pseudoscience and modern relativism, and I in fact have here, on my table in front of me, a book by the very Bricmont that you are citing ("Fashionable nonsense"), and I agree strongly with almost everything he says. You are conflating several things that have nothing to do with each other: namely, scientific rejections of certain aspects of naive realism on the one hand (WITHOUT IN ANY WAY rejecting other aspects of realism or the scientific method), and total relativism on the other.

You also write:

"Postulate 1 seems to fail when x is a stationary state."

x is simply a bit string; a bit string cannot be a "stationary state" (this notion is completely undefined in that context). Had you read the reference with the mathematical definition before shouting our your anger, you would have understood that.

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