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Contests Home

Current Essay Contest


Contest Partners: Fetzer Franklin Fund, and The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation

Previous Contests

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

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

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.
read/discusswinners

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

read/discusswinners

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
read/discusswinners

It From Bit or Bit From It
March 25 - June 28, 2013
Contest Partners: The Gruber Foundation, J. Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American
read/discusswinners

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
read/discusswinners

Is Reality Digital or Analog?
November 2010 - February 2011
Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation and Scientific American
read/discusswinners

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

The Nature of Time
August - December 2008
read/discusswinners

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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Paolo Bellan: on 4/25/20 at 8:11am UTC, wrote Right after having uploaded the essay, I've received a (5.0) rating... what...

Paolo Bellan: on 4/24/20 at 14:54pm UTC, wrote Essay Abstract The intrinsic indetermination observed in chaotic...


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FQXi FORUM
September 21, 2021

CATEGORY: Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability Essay Contest (2019-2020) [back]
TOPIC: THE UNKNOWABLE BORDERS THE UNKNOWN - A threefold limit to our knowledge by Paolo Bellan [refresh]
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Author Paolo Bellan wrote on Apr. 24, 2020 @ 14:54 GMT
Essay Abstract

The intrinsic indetermination observed in chaotic and quantum systems, together with the theoretical results from Gödel and Turing, set limits of different kinds on what can possibly be answered, computed and predicted. These bounds play a fundamental role in the scientific practice, bearing on our theories and models, and therefore on the overall reach of our knowledge. If scientific explanations are considered as transition maps between observed phenomena and mathematical or logical relations preserving some relational structure, one has to deal ideally with three operational wards. First of all, the space of the observed phenomena, a subsample of what we conceive as the physical world: observed regularities, series of happenings or chains of reactions, either natural or arranged in the lab. Then there is the space of the abstract concepts and conceptual tools, conceived either ad hoc for the specific purpose of description, or independently from possible applications. Finally there is the process itself of finding meaningful correspondences between regions of these spaces, preserving properties, morphologies and connections. In this essay the role of the theoretical and practical limitations relative to each of these three domains are investigated, trying to portray the intrinsic limits of our knowledge, their implications, and what sense can be made of them.

Author Bio

Former researcher active in the field of particle physics and members of the CMS and ZEUS experiments collaborations, now Physics and Math teacher and independent scholar with interests in applied mathematics, fundamental questions and philosophical issues.

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Author Paolo Bellan wrote on Apr. 25, 2020 @ 08:11 GMT
Right after having uploaded the essay, I've received a (5.0) rating... what a careful review! Simply amazing how that fair reviewer managed to read a 9-page dense paper in less than a minute! Had he read it less in a rush, maybe he would have appreciated it a bit more...

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