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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
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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

Luis Patino: on 2/26/18 at 4:29am UTC, wrote General relativity is not the best description available of what we observe...

Juan Ramón González Álvarez: on 2/24/18 at 0:52am UTC, wrote "What is "Fundamental"? In physics, as in any other context where this word...

Steven Andresen: on 2/22/18 at 6:56am UTC, wrote Dear Luis If you are looking for another essay to read and rate in the...

sherman jenkins: on 2/16/18 at 0:52am UTC, wrote Luis, Posting soon on my essay as it applies to several and should not...

sherman jenkins: on 2/16/18 at 0:28am UTC, wrote Luis, Posting soon on my essay as it applies to several and should not...

Satyavarapu Gupta: on 2/13/18 at 12:02pm UTC, wrote Dear Luis F Patino Very nice OP...."What is "Fundamental"? In physics, as...

sherman jenkins: on 2/7/18 at 23:50pm UTC, wrote Luis, And a similar roadblock in thinking occurs in the particle world. ...

Luis Patino: on 2/3/18 at 10:09am UTC, wrote Of course "what that" should have been just "what" in my previous post....


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FQXi FORUM
October 23, 2019

CATEGORY: FQXi Essay Contest - Spring, 2017 [back]
TOPIC: Fundamentals of Fundamental by Luis Felipe Patino-Cuadrado [refresh]
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Author Luis F Patino wrote on Jan. 31, 2018 @ 20:32 GMT
Essay Abstract

What is "Fundamental"? In physics, as in any other context where this word is used, the answer is "it depends..." The word "fundamental" has several definitions with different meanings; therefore, using it in general and in physics in particular often hinders rather than helps clarify the subject of study since this vagueness may mislead, confuse and obfuscate the study and ultimate understanding of the subject in several ways: applying an unsuitable meaning of the word to the subject will needlessly complicate its already complex study; using different meanings of "fundamental" inadvertently at the same time in reasoning about the subject will result in logical mistakes that will lead just as inadvertently to mistaking the wrong conclusions as the correct ones; finally, none of the meanings of the word "fundamental" may apply to the subject of study leading to the common mistake of forcing together ideas that are (ironically!) fundamentally different and instead wasting endless effort and time unifying them "because they should be the same since they are fundamental!" even when these ideas are mutually and glaringly incompatible. Thus, using the word "fundamental" in these manners can and will prevent the understanding of the complex ideas of modern theoretical physics and ultimately a clear and precise understanding of our Universe and reality.

Author Bio

Yes, I am that "Luis Felipe Patino-Cuadrado from the previous contest. I have a BS in pure mathematics from the University of California in San Diego. I have dedicated my life to learning all I can about our fascinating physical reality with the ultimate goal of understanding it. I have done this mostly on my own time and unpaid much to the detriment of my material well-being. If you like my essay, please vote for it and consider sponsoring me.

Download Essay PDF File

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sherman loran jenkins wrote on Feb. 1, 2018 @ 05:40 GMT
Luis,

So short. And so much truth. I hope to comeback for discussion.

Sherman.

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Author Luis F Patino replied on Feb. 3, 2018 @ 09:52 GMT
Sherman,

Indeed. We must be must be very precise with what we mean by calling some object or property in physics any given names or adjectives. In fact, we need to do so with the same precision as in mathematics: for example, "real" numbers aren't any more real than "imaginary" numbers. Both have precise definitions and meanings having nothing to do with their given names. Thus, language can both help and lead astray. Therefore, we need to ask ourselves what that we really are thinking about every step of our reasoning way.

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Author Luis F Patino replied on Feb. 3, 2018 @ 10:09 GMT
Of course "what that" should have been just "what" in my previous post. This simple typo is itself further proof that one cannot be too careful with language!

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sherman loran jenkins replied on Feb. 7, 2018 @ 23:50 GMT
Luis,

And a similar roadblock in thinking occurs in the particle world. That is this concern over perceived “imbalance” between matter and antimatter. But as long as someone holds on to this concept of matter and antimatter the next level of fundamental physics is out of reach. The difficulty arises more from the word baggage than anything else.

Sherman

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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Feb. 13, 2018 @ 12:02 GMT
Dear Luis F Patino

Very nice OP...."What is "Fundamental"? In physics, as in any other context where this word is used, the answer is "it depends..." The word "fundamental" has several definitions with different meanings; therefore, using it in general and in physics in particular often hinders rather than helps clarify the subject of study since this vagueness may mislead..............."...

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sherman loran jenkins wrote on Feb. 16, 2018 @ 00:28 GMT
Luis,

Posting soon on my essay as it applies to several and should not clutter or detract from all.

Sherman

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sherman loran jenkins wrote on Feb. 16, 2018 @ 00:52 GMT
Luis,

Posting soon on my essay as it applies to several and should not clutter or detract from all.

Sherman

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Steven Andresen wrote on Feb. 22, 2018 @ 06:56 GMT
Dear Luis

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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Juan Ramón González Álvarez wrote on Feb. 24, 2018 @ 00:52 GMT
"What is "Fundamental"? In physics, as in any other context where this word is used, the answer is "it depends..." The word "fundamental" has several definitions with different meanings; therefore, using it in general and in physics in particular often hinders rather than helps clarify the subject of study since this vagueness may mislead, confuse and obfuscate the study and ultimate understanding of the subject in several ways: applying

an unsuitable meaning of the word to the subject will needlessly complicate its already complex study; using different meanings of "fundamental" inadvertently at the same time in reasoning about the subject will result in logical mistakes that will lead just as inadvertently to mistaking the wrong conclusions as the correct ones". This ambiguity of the natural language is the reason why formal languages are used in science. So we don't really need to define the word, but simply provide the most faundamental possible scientific theory, something close or identical to that TOE that you mention.

"However, calling things “fundamental” can also mean that they are the basic elements of something and so that they are or should be “the same” in a real sense." There is no reason why fundamental things would be the same. Convergence applies between different levels of description not within the same level.

"They have even been encouraged by coming up with theories that unify all interactions carried by particle exchange, but not gravity which is not a force according to the theory that best describes it". The more popular? Yes. The best? No.

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Author Luis F Patino replied on Feb. 26, 2018 @ 04:29 GMT
General relativity is not the best description available of what we observe as "gravity"? Am I missing something? What theory would it be then?

I have come across many people claiming this only to find that they do not have a better theory but just dislike GR because they don't understand it. I hope this is not the case with you.

Also, I'm showing with my essay other people's confusion when applying the concept of "fundamental". I am not claiming that fundamental things are or should be the same, but precisely pointing out that others do.

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