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Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability Essay Contest
December 24, 2019 - April 24, 2020
Contest Partners: Fetzer Franklin Fund, and The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation

What Is “Fundamental”
October 28, 2017 to January 22, 2018
Sponsored by the Fetzer Franklin Fund and The Peter & Patricia Gruber Foundation

Wandering Towards a Goal
How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intention?
December 2, 2016 to March 3, 2017
Contest Partner: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Fund.

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


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

It From Bit or Bit From It
March 25 - June 28, 2013
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Questioning the Foundations
Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?
May 24 - August 31, 2012
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Is Reality Digital or Analog?
November 2010 - February 2011
Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation and Scientific American

What's Ultimately Possible in Physics?
May - October 2009
Contest Partners: Astrid and Bruce McWilliams

The Nature of Time
August - December 2008

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David Jewson: on 5/27/20 at 9:52am UTC, wrote As the essay competition draws to a close, I wanted to add some final...

David Jewson: on 5/23/20 at 16:21pm UTC, wrote Dear Vladimir, I'm really impressed that you're helping out with the...

David Jewson: on 5/23/20 at 15:46pm UTC, wrote Dear Rodney, Thanks for your comments which made me think. Reading the...

Rodney Bartlett: on 5/18/20 at 4:48am UTC, wrote Dear Dr. Jewson, The link to your essay was given to me by a message on...

Vladimir Fedorov: on 5/17/20 at 11:41am UTC, wrote Dear David, I greatly appreciated your work and discussion. I am very glad...

David Jewson: on 5/16/20 at 8:30am UTC, wrote P.S. I can’t stop thinking about the interesting things you said. So...

David Jewson: on 5/15/20 at 8:13am UTC, wrote Dear John, Thanks for your helpful comments, they are much appreciated and...

John Vastola: on 5/12/20 at 14:00pm UTC, wrote Very interesting idea! I liked how you proposed an intuitive explanation...


jim hughes: "I'm not a mathematician. So what I see here is some smart people who..." in Consciousness and the...

Steve Dufourny: "Hello FQXi, the members and all, I try to do my best to unite and convice..." in Global Collaboration

Lorraine Ford: "The idea of a smooth mathematical evolution of “the wave function”, and..." in Consciousness and the...

Georgina Woodward: "Broken machine: What do[es] I see next? The I that was, E.I, has not been..." in The Room in the Elephant:...

Lorraine Ford: "Hi Stefan, I hope that a good leader, and a good political party, is..." in The Present State of...

Lorraine Ford: "We live in an age of computing. But physics, mathematics and philosophy,..." in The Present State of...

Georgina Woodward: "I've copied the comment to the thread where it belongs. This orphan can be..." in The Room in the Elephant:...

Georgina Woodward: "Thank you John. What did you think about the questioning whether altitude..." in The Nature of Time

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'Artificial atoms' allow physicists to manipulate individual electrons—and could help to reduce energy wastage in electronic devices.

September 28, 2021

CATEGORY: Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability Essay Contest (2019-2020) [back]
TOPIC: Escaping Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability with a new ‘Theory of Everything’ by David Jewson [refresh]
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Author David Jewson wrote on Mar. 31, 2020 @ 16:56 GMT
Essay Abstract

Undecidability, uncomputability, and unpredictability seem inescapable in modern physics, but perhaps they are just symptoms of our being ‘stuck’, as we seem within a whisker of the truth but also an endless distance away. The Change Hypothesis is proposed as a completely new theory that seeks to explain all of Nature in a wholly different, yet simple, way. It is based on two postulates – the first is that physics represents Nature by using only three fundamental things: quantity, change and space, and the second is that all change travels at a single fixed speed through an absolute space. Three basic algorithms, from the maths of Quantum Electrodynamics (QED) and outlined in a book by Richard Feynman: QED – The Strange Theory of Light and Matter, are used to compute how change and quantity spread through space, and they are then transformed into a single, fundamental algorithm. A mathematical object, called a Q, that exists in space and solely contains information about quantity and change, replaces particles, forces, mass and energy. The equations of Special Relativity are shown to be deducible from one of the Change Hypothesis postulates. An experiment to test whether an absolute space exists is described. It is proposed that the information within a Q relates to conscious perceptions, with those perceptions constituting reality. A mechanism for the creation of consciousness within the brain, and its possible evolutionary advantage, is suggested. The consequences for undecidability, uncomputability, and unpredictability are profound: many undecidable questions in physics suddenly seem decidable, unpredictability relates to just a single basic question, and the modelling of Nature becomes computable. However, to achieve all of this, the Emperor of Physics has to wear a completely new set of clothes.

Author Bio

I am a retired doctor living in the UK. I graduated from Queens’ College, Cambridge University, and I am particularly interested in Quantum Electrodynamics, philosophy, and education. I believe this essay presents a simple and potentially revolutionary view of physics, but I may be deluding myself.

Download Essay PDF File
Note: This Essay PDF was replaced on 2020-04-24 13:25:59 UTC.

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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Apr. 1, 2020 @ 15:22 GMT
Dear Prof David Jewson,

Thanks for a wonderful essay written in simple and easy language on change Hypothesis.

1. The rotating arrow diagram you showed in the second page uses complex number 'i'. In my experience, expanding further to three dimensions gives a bit problem and and it will be more confusing. Why dont you use simple 3d- Coordinates (x,y,z)...? It will simplify math also.

2. Your beatiful words in the start..............'We have tied ourselves in knots with theories that are tantalisingly within a whisker of the truth but also an endless distance away. So, here is a completely new theory to explain Nature and to escape from undecidability, uncomputability, and unpredictability.' .... are much similar to my essay's central theem. Hope you will have a look into my essay also...

" A properly deciding, Computing and Predicting new theory’s Philosophy"

Best regards


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Author David Jewson replied on Apr. 3, 2020 @ 09:04 GMT
Dear Mr Gupta,

How perceptive! Yes, I could indeed use x, y and z coordinates instead of i, and it would be a lot simpler. There is a really important point here. QED uses complex numbers, but what are complex numbers really and why do they keep cropping up in QED? As I explained on page two, there is a simple algorithm for making the arrow, on the graph I drew, rotate, which, using x and y coordinates, would be: change the y coordinate into an x coordinate and vice versa, and then change the sign of the new x coordinate. This algorithm can be used to rotate arrows in QED, and it clearly has nothing to do with complex numbers. However, by pure chance, the rules of complex numbers work in exactly the same way: when you multiply a complex number by i, you get exactly the same swapping around as the algorithm does. So, it turns out you can use complex number calculus in QED simply because of this coincidence. So, you are right, complex numbers can be completely ditched, and the above algorithm used instead, but mathematicians like complex numbers so doubtless will continue to use them.

I know you say in your essay to avoid imaginary numbers, as nobody understands them, so I hope you might now be able to agree that the algorithm behind imaginary numbers, as outlined above, is perfectly understandable, and a beautifully simple and useful way to be able to rotate arrows, without having to grapple with anything imaginary at all.

I like a lot of the ideas in your essay. I think Nature is how you find her, but it seems particularly satisfying when it all seems to work out simply.

Best regards,


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Branko L Zivlak wrote on Apr. 1, 2020 @ 16:08 GMT
Dear David,

This is Google translate.

Ruđer Bošković in his Natural philosophy ... presented nature by the Force and the distance that still give speed.

You suggest your first postulate: “Physics can represent Nature using only three fundamental things: quantity, change,and space.”

As far as I understand, the dominant part of physicists do not think this is their subject of work. That is why I believe that your postulate belongs more to the Philosophy of Nature than to physics.

Perhaps I could say that your approach is more fundamental. Maybe I could rephrase your postulate into: “Physics can represent Nature using quantity and change which still produce space.”

In my work I came to the results using also three things (mass, radius and time). The reason for this is the fact that I could easily compare results with the applicable laws in physics and the values of accessible physical parameters.

Thus, as you postulate, I have come to the results in which the Quantities assisted by well-known mathematical constants represent nature. Of course, no 3 + 1 or more dimensions are required.

You can see some of my predictive formulas on the last page of my essay.

Yes, “Nature is very, very simple–in fact, elegantly simple, made of just quantity and change in space.”

Regards Branko

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Author David Jewson replied on Apr. 3, 2020 @ 10:53 GMT
Dear Branko,

Yes, I think you are right, it is the Philosophy of Nature. But, here’s the rub: physics is firmly based in maths, and physicists certainly do a lot of maths, and if maths is a ‘logical system’ or ‘a language’, that is consistent with being scientific. However, thinking a bit more deeply about maths, calculations always need to be done with physical things, like counters, or an abacus, or electrons in a calculator. It doesn’t matter which you use, so the maths is clearly using something that they all share. If the only thing that they all share is quantity, change, and a position in space, then maths, and so physics, becomes about manipulating position, change, and position in space, and, as you say, that seems more like an area for Natural Philosophy.

I actually prefer not to draw a distinction between philosophy, maths and physics. It seems to me that all three disciplines are to do with interesting ideas about the world we live in, and the great pleasure in finding new things out, and if you claim to belong to just one particular discipline, then you are missing out.

You mention in your essay that, in your work, you use mass, radius and time. Using E=hf and E=mc², then mass=hf/c², and as both h and c are constants, mass can then be described in terms of frequency, which in turn is an amount of cyclical change in a certain time. Also, radius is a quantity in space, while time is change, for, without time, you can’t have change. So, in that sense you, just like me, are using quantity, change, and space, which I think is what you are saying in your post. I like using quantity, change and space because they are simple things which can all be directly experienced, and they also seem to be the things that the maths of QED is actually using.

All very interesting!

All the best,


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Author David Jewson replied on Apr. 4, 2020 @ 07:44 GMT
Branko – I know the constants of Nature are central to your essay and it got me wondering what the constants were in the Q hypothesis, which, being a ‘theory of everything’ should give you a path to discovering all constants. So, first I wondered how to define a fundamental constant. In the Q hypothesis there is a fundamental algorithm that generates Qs, and Qs are the basic objects of the Universe that can hop from place to place. Qs will repel each other, but an anti-Q and a Q will attract, so Qs and anti-Qs could, for example, orbit each other with various frequencies. As the fundamental algorithm runs, various Qs will be generated, and various patterns of Qs will form, and, as it is always the same algorithm that is used, there is a constancy to outcomes. So, for example, if a certain pattern of Qs was always found to repeat, that would be a type of constant (similar, perhaps, to the mass of a proton), but it wouldn’t be a fundamental constant; it is, rather, a result of the constants that are in the algorithm. So, if I defined fundamental constants as those used in the fundamental algorithm, there are only three (in the version of the theory I presented): first, there is the amplitude of the first complex number that begins a new Q (the length of the first arrow in a Q, representing quantity), which is 1; second, the proportion that this quantity of 1 shrinks with distance, which is also 1; and thirdly, ‘j’, which is 0.0001, and is used to calculate the chance of a new Q forming. As the theory uses the geometry of space, the fundamental constants of geometry, like π, should, really, also be added.

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Branko L Zivlak replied on Apr. 5, 2020 @ 09:52 GMT
Dear David,

We largely agree. Yes, it is important to fined any fundamental constant in Q theory. One is obvious, as seen in Euler's formula. Analogous to the Euler formula, exp (ip) in my articles you can see exp (2pi) which is significant for the proton and the matter from it formed. I also discovered the link between mathematics and the proton / electron mass ratio and fine structure constant. Otherwise I call my theory "Unity of the whole and its parts" (U) which is nothing but the applied Mah principle.

I have an idea for you. If in your examples you write Q = a + b * i. then the a / b ratio is not random. In some special cases it may be associated with fine structure constant. If you associate the alpha with another dimensionless physical constant, then U + Q would become the theory of everything.

Regards Branko

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Author David Jewson wrote on Apr. 6, 2020 @ 06:59 GMT
Thanks for your interesting idea Branko, which inspired me to find out more about the fine structure-constant.

In his book, QED - The Strange Theory of Light and Matter, Feynman calls the amplitude for a real electron to emit or absorb a real photon e. It is the observed value of his theoretical constant j. He then explains why they are different, and why it a huge challenge to actually calculate j from experimental results.

The inverse of the square of e gives the fine structure-constant, and, therefore, j is also closely related to the fine-structure constant. As j appears in the Change Hypothesis as part of the calculation to determine the probability of a new Q forming, the fine-structure constant, through its connection to e and thereby j, is actually already part of the Change Hypothesis!!!!

Regards David

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Author David Jewson wrote on Apr. 24, 2020 @ 13:26 GMT
David Jewson re-uploaded the file Jewson_Essay_1.pdf for the essay entitled "Escaping Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability with a new ‘Theory of Everything’" on 2020-04-24 13:25:59 UTC.

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Agus H Budiyanto wrote on Apr. 27, 2020 @ 20:19 GMT
Dear Dr. David Jewson.

Thank you for your interesting essay.

I wonder if your theory can explain gravity or other fundamental forces of nature.TOE is supposed to explain all fundamental forces and unite them into a single framework.

Best regards,


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Author David Jewson replied on May. 3, 2020 @ 07:01 GMT
Dear Agus,

That’s a particularly interesting and absolutely key question, as I think the theory contains a truly lovely, different and simple way that forces work, including gravity. It’s because this explanation is so different to the conventional explanation that makes the theory so interesting and enables it to explain so much.

It all comes down to the unique way in theory that particles move (I call these particles Qs).

A Q starts as a point and spreads out as a wave. At any point in that wave, a new Q can form. New Qs are most likely to form in high amplitude waves. When a new Q forms it looks as if the original Q has jumped there. If there are lots of Qs, they overlap, creating areas of positive interference with high amplitude waves, and areas of negative interference, with low amplitude waves. The next Q is most likely to form in the high amplitude areas i.e. Q’s move into high amplitude areas. Q’s are, therefore, ‘attracted’ into these areas, so it looks as if a force is operating. So, this would be the way that all forces are explained in the theory. Simply put, particles affect the space around them and it is that space that then ‘attracts’ or ‘repels’ other particles.

It’s similar to the way that gravitational force works in General Relativity.

If you look at the section on movement in the essay, it explains it in a bit more detail and also includes a completely different explanation for gravity.

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David B Kinney wrote on Apr. 28, 2020 @ 13:59 GMT
Hi David,

Thanks for a nice essay, which I very much enjoyed reading. One issue I had was the following: as a reader, it would have been nice to get an unambiguous definition of the term "quantity", which obviously plays a large role in your essay.

Best wishes,


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Author David Jewson replied on May. 3, 2020 @ 07:35 GMT
Dear David,

The answer actually underpins the whole theory.

Consider the following argument:

From the time we first come into this world we have to work everything out for ourselves, and we do that through our conscious perceptions. So, any theory about the world should have, at its basis, conscious perceptions, as that is what we have had to use to form that theory.

But in the conventional view, the world has unconscious ‘objects’ as its basis, with consciousness as a bolt on. This, then, seems wrong. But is it actually possible to build any physics theory at all out of conscious perceptions? Is it actually possible to build a theory ‘the right way round’? What are the things you can directly perceive to build a theory out of?

Well, from my own experience, I think I can say I can perceive a position in space, a direction that something moves in space. I can also perceive a quantity in that I can often see when there is more of one thing than another. I can also perceive when things change. So, If I can build my theory out of quantity, direction and change, then I have built my theory out of conscious perceptions; I have built my theory ‘the right was round’.

But I can’t actually exactly define those things, just like I can’t define the perception of a particular shade of red, as they are personal experiences, they are the basic things from which definitions of other things are built.

However, I hope you’ll agree that you too can perceive ‘quantity’ and I hope that will at least give you some idea of what I’m talking about!

Best wishes,


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John Joseph Vastola wrote on May. 12, 2020 @ 14:00 GMT
Very interesting idea! I liked how you proposed an intuitive explanation for why particles (Qs, here) attract and repel. I also like that you propose an experimental test for your claim of absolute space. The idea that the known particles and other things are all emergent consequences from some simple rules or objects (like your Qs) is one I'm very sympathetic to, and there are many current ideas that are similar in spirit. For example, it's fashionable to imagine gravity and perhaps even spacetime as emerging from some simpler objects, like quantum bits.

Still, with a tremendous claim, you need to put quite a bit more work in to convince other people. In particular, you need to be able to calculate things and show that your theory gives the right answer. For example, how would you calculate the anomalous magnetic moment of the electron? You say:

"Decisively, as the Change Hypothesis can use exactly the same maths as QED, it can also be used to calculate exactly the same things and can immediately be used to explain most of physics!"

But if the calculation is the same as the QED one, why use your theory? You should show that it predicts (for some measurable quantity) an observable difference.

The math of QED (as you may know) is somewhat tougher than Feynman lets on in that book, which is great for intuitive understanding but not so great for learning real QED. If you haven't yet learned QED, I'd look at these two:

(Beginner level) Klauber's Student Friendly Quantum Field Theory

(More advanced) Schwartz's Quantum Field Theory and the Standard Model

Also, not sure what you mean by this here: "This means that light, for example, can have an amplitude to go faster or slower than the conventional speed c, which is also the case in QED"


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Author David Jewson replied on May. 15, 2020 @ 08:13 GMT
Dear John,

Thanks for your helpful comments, they are much appreciated and really made me think!

To be fair to Feynman, he pointed out that the maths got very complicated, as huge numbers of simple calculations are required to decide anything at all in QED. You are right though; in the end the simple maths of the Change Hypothesis would need to get the same results as the more...

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Author David Jewson replied on May. 16, 2020 @ 08:30 GMT

I can’t stop thinking about the interesting things you said. So here is a list of ten reasons to use the Change Hypothesis (if it were to work out the way I hope):

1 It is a variant of a well-tested theory (Feynman’s), so not a big leap to make.

2 It could therefore predict what Feynman’s theory predicts.

3 It could also explain and predict many things that the current theory can’t such as the masses of particles and other constants of Nature, which would be its test.

4 It could show how the complicated maths described in the textbooks you kindly suggested, is actually, underneath, the repetitive, simple maths of the hypothesis.

5 It could show how the theories of Relativity, Quantum Theory and consciousness are really all part of the same theory, with the same underlying simple maths.

6 This is because it uses a different physical view of Nature. Particles aren’t points but have a definite internal structure; movement is really the creation of the new at a distance (rather than the preservation of the old); all change occurs at the same speed. This different view comes from believing that the arrows used by the maths represent something real rather than just being a device for calculation.

7 The maths then turns from something that works, but for no rational reason, into clearly describing reality. Feynman knew that nobody using the conventional theory understood why it worked. The Change Hypothesis offers that understanding.

8 It doesn’t contain the paradoxes of the conventional theories.

9 It’s great fun, if you like new ways of looking at things.

10 If you like exploring ideas, it’s essentially unexplored. I’ve only scratched the surface.

Of course, I shan’t list all the reasons not to use it!

All the best,


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Vladimir Nikolaevich Fedorov wrote on May. 17, 2020 @ 11:41 GMT
Dear David,

I greatly appreciated your work and discussion. I am very glad that you are not thinking in abstract patterns.

While the discussion lasted, I wrote an article: “Practical guidance on calculating resonant frequencies at four levels of diagnosis and inactivation of COVID-19 coronavirus”, due to the high relevance of this topic. The work is based on the practical solution of problems in quantum mechanics, presented in the essay FQXi 2019-2020 “Universal quantum laws of the universe to solve the problems of unsolvability, computability and unpredictability”.

I hope that my modest results of work will provide you with information for thought.

Warm Regards, `


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Author David Jewson replied on May. 23, 2020 @ 16:21 GMT
Dear Vladimir,

I'm really impressed that you're helping out with the Covid-19 epidemic. I read your essay; I also find the idea of pilot waves very interesting. In the Change Hypothesis particles move around in a similar way, but in little jumps rather than smoothly.

Anyway, I appreciate your comments and wish you the best of luck in the contest!


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Rodney Bartlett wrote on May. 18, 2020 @ 04:48 GMT
Dear Dr. Jewson,

The link to your essay was given to me by a message on from Timothy Howes of the National Health Service. So far, I've only had time for a quick browse of the essay, to see what it's about. I was immediately struck by a few things -

Basically, your essay Escaping Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability with a new ‘Theory of Everything’ has the same idea as mine - NON-COMPUTABILITY AND UNPREDICTABILITY ARE SO YESTERDAY: WITH COMPUTABLE AND PREDICTABLE COSMIC STRUCTURE, PLUS IMPLICATIONS FOR MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE COMPUTABLE COSMOS

Your diagram of A rotating arrow on a graph reminds me obviously of my diagrams WICK ROTATION, OR CIRCLE OF i, as well as TROUGHS AND CRESTS IN TIME PRODUCE ENTANGLEMENT.

And last but not least, I'm a fan of Richard Feynman - and I think Star Trek's Q is just great!

Best wishes,


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Author David Jewson replied on May. 23, 2020 @ 15:46 GMT
Dear Rodney,

Thanks for your comments which made me think. Reading the competition essays there seems to be so many explanations of Nature or parts of Nature, and the amount of undecidability, unpredictability and uncomputability in the world rather depends on which one you choose. There also seems to be a fashion for ever more complicated maths. There often seems no reason why the maths works.

But in simple situations there often is a direct correlation between maths and the physical situation it represents. So, representing cows in a field and their positions with numbers means that a change in the position of the various cows or the size of the herd in the field is directly correlated in an obvious way with the numbers representing them.

So, perhaps there should be a rule in physics, that any maths in a good theory, when broken down to it’s simplest steps, should directly correlate with a change in a physical quantity, be it position of something that actually exists, or the quantity of it, at each step in the calculation.

I say all of this to then try to convince you that the Change Hypothesis has this property (in outline at least) and is unique in that respect. Every small step in the maths of the Change Hypothesis results in a clearly connected physical change in the model of Nature it is constructing and that model can reflect any changes in Nature in a clear way. I might then extend this to saying the best analyses of undecidability, unpredictability and uncomputability is, therefore, provided by the Change Hypothesis.

But as I like to think of myself as a humble person, I won’t say any of that!

All the best,


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Author David Jewson wrote on May. 27, 2020 @ 09:52 GMT
As the essay competition draws to a close, I wanted to add some final remarks about the Change Hypothesis project. It was inspired by Richard Feynman who discovered that most of physics could be explained by just three ‘actions’: A photon goes from place to place, an electron goes from place to place, and a photon couples with an electron. He showed that these simple ‘actions’ explained...

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