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January 19, 2018

CATEGORY: The Nature of Time Essay Contest (2008) [back]
TOPIC: One time is not enough by Petr Frish [refresh]
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Petr Frish wrote on Nov. 28, 2008 @ 09:30 GMT
Essay Abstract

Physics models are classified by Rudolf Carnap[1] as "semantics," or the interpretation of experimentsin terms of abstract mathematical theories. Experiments, in his scheme, are part of "pragmatics." Geometry, as an axiomatic theory, is part of "syntax." We argue that semantics, the mapping of physical concepts to abstract symbols, should be a one-to-one mapping, to avoid confusion. A well-known example of current ambiguity, which may lead to confusion, is the use of the mathematical concept of probability to represent at two different physical concepts, one related to the information an observer has about a system, the other related to an objective description of the system. Such confusion already appears in classical statistical mechanics, as interpreted by E.T. Jaynes [2]. It becomes more bothersome in the Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum mechanics. An example is the paradox of "Wiegner's Friend. In this essay we argue that a similar, and related, overloading of meanings is happening with concept of time. We can recognize more than one physical concept hiding behind the label time. We propose another name for one of them. 1) 2) 3)

Author Bio

Petr Frish is a physicicst with no current formal afiliation. More is here:

Download Essay PDF File

Cristi Stoica wrote on Dec. 8, 2008 @ 12:33 GMT
Dear Dr. Frish,

I enjoyed your essay, especially the argument expressing the incompatibility between the supposition that, at a given time, a quantum system may have a determined state, and the violation of Bell’s inequality, and the implications you develop regarding the time. This incompatibility, in a different form, intrigued me too. My solution was to admit more alternative states at a time, from which we rule out, by further measurements, some of them. This led me to an alternative view on Quantum Mechanics, which eliminates the necessity of admitting a discontinuous wavefunction collapse (sketched briefly in my essay, and with more details in Smooth Quantum Mechanics).


Cristi Stoica

Flowing with a Frozen River

Petr Frish wrote on Dec. 12, 2008 @ 13:47 GMT
Hello O.C.

Thank you for your comment.

I indeed see some confluence in the two essays:

...theories like geometries in the Erlangen program.

... mind and its perception of time as flowing,

... a hypothesis about the free-will,

and a crucial experiment that can confirm

or reject it... ??

All that sounds interesting and relevant in this context.

I also see differences of opinion. E.g. my instincts have no negative reaction to computational theory of mind. Whether that mind runs on a quantum machine, as Penrose thinks, or whether we know better or worse approximation of the algorithm, seems irrelevant.

Poetic way of posing that question would be

"Can robots have soul?" ?

But why making the test so hard? If we accept Darwin's theory, we can consider Caenorhabditis elegans (round worm).

I posit that we can learn as much about(physics aspects of) mind on these simple creatures as on me.

And our computer would have easier time to simulate their 302 neurons, then all those I am trying to use ...

Cristi Stoica wrote on Dec. 13, 2008 @ 06:59 GMT
Dear Petr,

“I also see differences of opinion. E.g. my instincts have no negative reaction to computational theory of mind.”

Other feedbacks I received interpreted my essay as sustaining the computational theory of mind. The truth is that I did not express any preference for one side or the other. I just proposed a hypothesis, and a test that can confirm or reject it.

I agree with you that, if this experiment will be performed someday, it will start with easier subjects, for example the round worm. Yet, a negative result on this worm will not be very relevant for the human free-will.

Best regards,

Cristi Stoica

Flowing with a Frozen River

Petr Frish wrote on Dec. 17, 2008 @ 06:50 GMT
Hello again

Congratulation to 7 restricted votes. Now I can confess it is actually worse: I do not think that subjective feeling of free will has anything to do with determinism in physics:

I can build a robot,

and give it algorithm, either deterministic or stochastic

(using pseudo random numbers) to optimalize some goal, using all info it has.

It (the robot) will compute. hesitate, sleep on it, and eventually choose 'best' strategy. It will report, truthfully, that it made a choice, based on the info it had.

We know from simple physics, alfa decay, spontaneous emission of photons, etc, that there are indetermined processes in physics. The sad fact that QM is trying to describe them by unitary operators does not detract from their reality. So why messy things, such as human mind, into a simple clean question?

Cristi Stoica wrote on Dec. 20, 2008 @ 11:44 GMT
Dear Peter,

“I do not think that subjective feeling of free will has anything to do with determinism in physics”

I agree with you about the subjective feeling of free-will. If the feeling can be “simulated”, this will not depend on the determinism. I do not discuss the feeling (which exists), but the possibility for the real free-will (which may or may not exist).

“So why messy things, such as human mind, into a simple clean question?”

1. The QM is far from being simple and clean. 2. My approach does not use the human observer. The section about free-will in my essay is not intended to add something to the section of Smooth QM. It is an independent hypothesis.

Best wishes,

Cristi Stoica

Dear Christi wrote on Dec. 25, 2008 @ 12:05 GMT
I do appreciate your coming back here and comment on the


I looked back at the last section of your essay, and on your ref [4], and while I like the questions, I must admit that I just do not know what do you men by the ¨ free will¨.

It is not the random vs deterministic,

it is not about collapse,

it is not subjective feeling, as I thought

and you say:

Real human minds can have a strong feeling of free will.

I, as a human, have a very clear feeling that I exist, that I am a subject experiencing the processes of my mind.

It is something outside the physical universe -

whatever that means. It almost sounds like a test for

existence of ¨intelligent designer¨ behind the apparent universe. Is that what you want to test for?

Cristi Stoica wrote on Dec. 30, 2008 @ 16:22 GMT
Dear Peter,

Thank you for the interest you show to our discussion, and for showing me that there are points that I have not clarified enough. I am sorry that I say sometimes that “I don’t know” or “I don’t claim”; I am not trying to be esoteric, nor to intrigue, but only to maintain at minimum the number of hypotheses.

Perhaps Wigner is right when he said that the success...

view entire post

Petr frish wrote on Jan. 6, 2009 @ 09:57 GMT
Yes. That was helpful. Thanks.

You did clarified the concept. This 'mind' does not have to be

Intelligent or panning a particular outcome.

It is a very abstract concepy,

and yes, possible.


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