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Current Essay Contest


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

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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
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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
Contest Partner: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Fund.
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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

Lachlan Cresswell: on 5/18/20 at 14:35pm UTC, wrote Dear Nathan, A most interesting essay. I suggest that solvability may be...

Alan Kadin: on 5/14/20 at 11:42am UTC, wrote Dear Prof. Harshman, Outstanding essay! Thank you for reminding us that...

Yutaka Shikano: on 5/4/20 at 21:48pm UTC, wrote Dear Nathan, I agree with your point of the bias. However, this is not...

Satyavarapu Gupta: on 4/30/20 at 12:07pm UTC, wrote Dear Prof Nathan, Search for dark energy and dark matter continued for...

John Crowell: on 4/29/20 at 18:14pm UTC, wrote Dear Nathan I agree that solvability is an essential factor. However, in my...

Charles Sven: on 4/25/20 at 18:14pm UTC, wrote Greetings Professor Nathan Harshman: I agree with your notations of...

David Brown: on 4/25/20 at 16:35pm UTC, wrote "Why does a measly 5% of normal matter and energy continue to dominate our...

Nathan Harshman: on 4/25/20 at 15:06pm UTC, wrote Essay Abstract In this essay, I consider the anthropic solvability...


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FQXi FORUM
September 19, 2021

CATEGORY: Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability Essay Contest (2019-2020) [back]
TOPIC: Unsolvability in the Anthropocene by Nathan L. Harshman [refresh]
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Author Nathan L. Harshman wrote on Apr. 25, 2020 @ 15:06 GMT
Essay Abstract

In this essay, I consider the anthropic solvability principle: the idea that solvability selects the forms of matter that direct our attention. Solvability is the condition when measurement and theory of a system reconcile in a consistent interpretation. The notion of solvability mediates between the physical properties of the system and the mathematical properties of the model we use to describe it. As with uncertainty and uncomputability, taking solvability---and unsolvability---seriously requires us to confront the role of subjectivity in physics. The reward is a renewed appreciation for the contingent and particular that emerge at the ragged edge of chaos and integrability.

Author Bio

Nathan Harshman is Professor of Physics at American University in Washington, DC and Director of the NASA DC Space Grant Consortium. He specializes in symmetry and quantum mechanics. He has published in particle physics, quantum information, few-body physics, philosophy of physics, and physics education. He held visiting appointments at University of Trento, Ulm University, and Aarhus University. Harshman has been a double-agent in the Science Wars ever since studying both physics and English in the 1990s.

Download Essay PDF File

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David Brown wrote on Apr. 25, 2020 @ 16:35 GMT
"Why does a measly 5% of normal matter and energy continue to dominate our attention over the formless, dark majority?" I think that the answer to the previous question is that many astrophysicists are confused because they fail to realize that Milgrom is the Kepler of contemporary cosmology.

Sanders, Robert H., and Stacy S. McGaugh. "Modified Newtonian dynamics as an alternative to dark matter." Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics 40, no. 1 (2002): 263-317.

arXiv preprint

Why do Kroupa, McGaugh, Sanders, Scarpa, and others think that MOND makes many correct empirical predictions (that seem to contradict Newtonian-Einsteinian gravitational theory)?

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Charles John Sven wrote on Apr. 25, 2020 @ 18:14 GMT
Greetings Professor Nathan Harshman:

I agree with your notations of bias regarding dark energy as noted:

“Meanwhile, dark matter and dark energy remain unsolved problems; they persist as formless gaps in the scales of the universe, shadowed by the bias of our attention.”

That bias of attention is based on decades of unconnected discoveries combined with many mathematical assumptions made at the beginning of the 20th century.

It is currently proposed that any evidence describing the Big Bang is beyond science’s reach and yet this essay of mine entered January 18th Common 3D Physics Depicts Universe Emerging From Chaos presents a plausible explanation with plenty of current replicable evidence viewed and connected without bias. Check it out.

Regards

Charles Sven

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John David Crowell wrote on Apr. 29, 2020 @ 18:14 GMT
Dear Nathan I agree that solvability is an essential factor. However, in my case, I think the solvability came in the creation of the universe and its contents. In my essay I describe a self creating process that began in total chaos and progressed to the ordered universe. In the self creation from chaos, the processing had to solve all of the problems it encountered in its journey. The first one was big - how to overcome entropy. It also had to learn how to successful create everything needed to progress in its journey. You may enjoy the essay to get another perspective on solvability. John Crowell

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Satyavarapu Naga Parameswara Gupta wrote on Apr. 30, 2020 @ 12:07 GMT
Dear Prof Nathan,

Search for dark energy and dark matter continued for almost half decade in vain. May be you can just have a look at my Dynamic Universe model’s ethical and scientific philosophy just for a change. You may not consider it, but just have a visit to my essay “A properly deciding, Computing and Predicting new theory’s Philosophy”

I was working on that model for the last 40 years or so under the guidance of maa Vak. This model gave many realised predictions and solved many unsolved problems in Cosmology.

Best Regards

=snp

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Yutaka Shikano wrote on May. 4, 2020 @ 21:48 GMT
Dear Nathan,

I agree with your point of the bias. However, this is not directly related to the unsolvebility. Is this logical connection between the bias viewpoint theory and unsolvable of the nature? As also pointed out in my essay, theory is always to be better understanding of the nature. What do you think?

Best wishes,

Yutaka

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Alan M. Kadin wrote on May. 14, 2020 @ 11:42 GMT
Dear Prof. Harshman,

Outstanding essay!

Thank you for reminding us that since physicists are human, human biases will be reflected in physics as well.

I would like to point out one aspect that you did not address, the effect of confirmation bias on selection and interpretation of experiments. This bias can be particularly strong if there are large amounts of money involved. This can corrupt the system even while most individuals feel that they are honest and objective.

In my own essay, ”The Uncertain Future of Physics and Computing”, I point out that the developing technology of quantum computing provides the first significant application of quantum entanglement, and therefore provides a major test of quantum foundations. But the experimental measurements thus far in quantum computing have been designed to confirm the orthodox theory, not to test it. There are billions of dollars being invested in this; no one wants to admit the possibility of failure.

I predict that the entire technology of quantum computing will fail catastrophically within a few years. This may provide an opportunity for a reexamination of the foundations of quantum mechanics.

Alan Kadin

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Lachlan Cresswell wrote on May. 18, 2020 @ 14:35 GMT
Dear Nathan,

A most interesting essay. I suggest that solvability may be advanced if we concentrated more on structure and less on probability. In other words the unreasonable effectiveness of Quantum Theory is detracting from efforts at probing deeper and analysing structure, both at the atomic and sub-atomic levels.

I too, in many talks, use both that video on scale as well as the static slides by the ? brothers (it's late in Oz). I think I managed to span some 60 order of magnitude, which speaks highly of our technology.

My particle theory, which I do not discuss in my essay on the 3 Un's, is a reductionist preon theory that actually works! I can reduce the number of needed Quantum numbers down to 3 and still have more predictive power than the Standard Model.

Good Luck

Lockie Cresswell

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