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July 20, 2018

CATEGORY: Blog [back]
TOPIC: What Is Fundamental? – Winners Roll [refresh]
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FQXi Administrator Brendan Foster wrote on May. 14, 2018 @ 16:02 GMT
Rho Ophiuchus Photo By Rogelio Bernal Andreo -
There may be no better question for FQXi to ask then, What Is “Fundamental”? We asked this question last October for our latest essay contest, and over 200 deep-thinkers sent us their ideas.

You might agree with what they have said, or you might not.

It is now time to reveal all the answers! — or, I mean, reveal all the winners.

Let me first thank our sponsors, for making the contest possible. The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation have long been a great help, and The Fetzer Franklin Fund has joined us in our ongoing Agency in the Physical World program. Thanks also to our panel of judges for their diligence. And thank you to all of you who took the time to answer our question and write us an essay.

Here we go with the winners, to be revealed as the day goes on. You can follow along as well, on Twitter, @FQXi —

This year we have two special prizes to announce.

An award for Creative Writing ($1,000) goes to Mozibur Ullah and his dialogue, Socrates, Atoms, and Being.

And an award for a Student Author ($1,000) goes to Aditya Dwarkesh, for ’Fundamentality' as a Linguistic Paradigm (and Linguistics as a Fundamental Paradigm).

Next, we have our Fourth Prize Winners. These will all receive $1,000. In first-name alphabetical order, we have:

Ian Durham, Bell's Theory of Beables and the Concept of ‘Universe'

Ken Wharton, Fundamental Is Non-Random

Marc Séguin, Fundamentality Here, Fundamentality There, Fundamentality Everywhere

Markus Mueller, Mind Before Matter: Reversing the Arrow of Fundamentality

Tejinder Singh, Things, Laws, and the Human Mind

Next, we have the Third Prize Winners. Each essay will receive $2,000. We have:

Gregory Derry, Fundamentality, Explanation, and the Unity of Science

Karen Crowther, When do we stop digging? Conditions on a fundamental theory of physics

Sabine Hossenfelder, The Case for Strong Emergence

Sean Carroll and Ashmeet Singh, Mad-Dog Everettianism: Quantum Mechanics at Its Most Minimal.

And now, for our Second Prize Winners. Our panel felt that each of these was all-around excellent quality, and chose to award each one a full $5,000. We have:

Alyssa Ney, The Politics of Fundamentality

Dean Rickles, Of Lego and Layers (and Fundamentalism)

Matt Leifer, Against Fundamentalism.

And now finally, we have our top winner. Last year, you may recall our panel could not decide between three essays for first. This year, they unanimously agreed on one entry. We are pleased to award the $10,000 First Prize to:

Emily Adlam, Fundamental?

Congratulations to all our winners. Here’s looking forward to the next contest. On behalf of FQXi, thanks to all of you for reading along.

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on May. 14, 2018 @ 22:33 GMT
Thank you Brendan...

Congratulations to all of the winners! I might be more gracious if I saw some of my friends and colleagues among the winners, because I see the winners' circle is heavily weighted with FQXi members, but I personally enjoyed several of the essays selected, so it gratifies me to see those entries win. There were so many excellent entries, including some I liked better, but all of the winners deserve to be lauded for their excellent efforts.

As for myself; I am thankful for the opportunity to present and discuss my work on this forum. Knowing that what I have been cooking up is a fully quantum mechanical theory of gravitation, which reproduces the predictions of Newton and Einstein in the short to mid range, and which falls off at extreme cosmic distances as with DGP or Cascading gravity theories; I am confident the work will prove its worth.

It will probably be 'discovered' by some well-known researcher, a few years from now, and be hailed as a great advance in our learning. Leonard Susskind has been wearing a T-shirt with 'I (Mandelbrot Set) Complexity' on it, and he recently wrote describing gravity as the complexity limit - which is the same Misiurewicz point I highlight in my essay and elsewhere - so he is likely to be credited. But when the 'great advance' is hailed, I can clearly show I had the essential insight years before.

All the Best,


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Jonathan J. Dickau replied on May. 15, 2018 @ 04:20 GMT
For those who are interested...

Why do Things Fall?

by Leonard Susskind

Compare with the comments in this reference...

Misiurewicz Point of the Logistic Map

by Clint Sprott

Note that the band merging point in the bifurcation diagram is the place of maximal probability density. This behavior is also seen in the Mandelbrot Set, as was pointed out in my essay.



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John R. Cox wrote on May. 15, 2018 @ 15:49 GMT
Congratulations, Dr. Adlam. Well deserved.

and to Brendan and all on the FQXi panel, I think this was a good choice given the parameters and judging categorization.

The essay itself is well enough written that it is deceptively casual in general tone, but really condenses such nuance and breadth of diverse knowledge that a careful reading is required to appreciate the topics addressed. And I personally find it refreshing that the panel is accepting of thoughtful arguments of realism beyond the common credo of quantum criteria.

On page 2 Dr. Adlam synopsizes from theorems of Kochen-Specker, and Spekkens; "it is not possible to come up with models for a reality underlying quantum mechanics where certain key structural symmetries of the mathematical formalism are preserved on the ontological level." which says so much that it begs question of formalism itself. But if we are correct enough in our math which obtains an irrational value for 'pi', then at least continual change of structure would be perhaps inevitable. Objective chance may result but not necessarily be the sole fundament of randominity. The formality of mathematically defining an energy quantity determinant of spherical volume would be subject to a morphology of structural change in reality, but randomness may come from the universe simply not always operating perfectly. jrc

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Terry Bollinger wrote on May. 16, 2018 @ 05:34 GMT
Dr Adlam,

As a fellow contestant, congratulations on your win! I regret not having read your essay earlier, owing to the large number of entries this year.

Your essay is highly readable, with a truly delightful starting anecdote. It is exceedingly well researched, and rich in history and references relevant to the word "fundamental." I like also that you directly addressed the core...

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Lorraine Ford wrote on May. 19, 2018 @ 02:07 GMT
As is usual with physicists, first prize winner Emily Adlam seems to have a rather misguided and superficial view of “what sorts of things need explaining” [1].

1. Re “. . . We physicists are fond of mathematics. . .”:

The universe sustains fundamental-level relationships so regular that we can represent them as mathematical equations: you can bet your life on them (e.g. if...

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Vladimir Rogozhin wrote on May. 19, 2018 @ 14:56 GMT
Many thanks to the Foundational Questions Institute for the opportunity to participate in very interesting contests on fundamental issues of science. Ten years have passed since the first Сontest of the FQXi. It would be good to collect in one place (in the form of a table) on the FQXi's portal all the basic ideas of participants in all contests.


Vladimir Rogozhin

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Steve Dufourny wrote on May. 25, 2018 @ 06:21 GMT
Hello all,

Congratulations to winners and thanks to FQXi for this Platform which permits us to show to others the works in transparence.Congratulation also Mrs Adlam,

spherically yours :) from Belgium

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Mason Carl wrote on Jun. 9, 2018 @ 07:30 GMT
thanks for this post. A good read

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