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Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability Essay Contest
December 24, 2019 - April 24, 2020
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What Is “Fundamental”
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How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intention?
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Trick or Truth: The Mysterious Connection Between Physics and Mathematics
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How Should Humanity Steer the Future?
January 9, 2014 - August 31, 2014
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It From Bit or Bit From It
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Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?
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Is Reality Digital or Analog?
November 2010 - February 2011
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What's Ultimately Possible in Physics?
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The Nature of Time
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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Kevin Knuth: on 5/12/20 at 18:33pm UTC, wrote Dear Stephen, Let me first say that I am both delighted and impressed that...

James Hoover: on 5/7/20 at 17:04pm UTC, wrote Stephen, "Despite the holes in our physical theories and the valid...

Yutaka Shikano: on 5/4/20 at 21:42pm UTC, wrote Dear Stephen, Great to see a young talented student such as you at this...

Syed Raiyan Nuri Reza: on 4/30/20 at 18:31pm UTC, wrote Dear Stephen Klein, We are delighted to find an undergrad level student...

Lachlan Cresswell: on 4/30/20 at 9:04am UTC, wrote Dear Stephen, A most enjoyable essay. I cover similar ground in my essay,...

Tejinder Singh: on 4/29/20 at 12:28pm UTC, wrote Sorry to barge in Luca. Request you to kindly see my essay, The pollen and...

Luca Valeri: on 4/29/20 at 6:28am UTC, wrote Hi Stephen, Laplace's demon is such an good and inspiring topic in the...

Vladimir Rogozhin: on 4/26/20 at 16:41pm UTC, wrote Dear Stephen, You give very good doubts in the spirit of Descartes. As...


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FQXi FORUM
September 17, 2021

CATEGORY: Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability Essay Contest (2019-2020) [back]
TOPIC: Laplace's Demon -- Thwarted by Modern Physics, or Does He Know Something We Don't? by Stephen Klein [refresh]
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Author Stephen Klein wrote on Apr. 25, 2020 @ 15:08 GMT
Essay Abstract

The development of Newtonian physics led the thinkers of the pre-modern era to conclude that the universe was rigidly deterministic. Pierre-Simon de Laplace developed this idea further with his famous thought experiment in which a "demon" was capable of knowing the state of every object in the universe simultaneously, and therefore could infer every event in the universe. Modern physics, namely quantum formalism and information entropy, defies the existence of such a creature. But without a way to reconcile quantum mechanics and general relativity, we're left to wonder whether these modern theories are really ontological, or just rudimentary models. Do these theories really stand up to Laplace's Demon, or are we kidding ourselves?

Author Bio

I am an undergraduate student studying physics at the State University of New York at Albany.

Download Essay PDF File

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Member Tejinder Pal Singh wrote on Apr. 25, 2020 @ 16:00 GMT
Dear Stephen.,

Great to see a young student such as you at this context. Wish you all the best for your nice essay, and for asking a very pertinent question.

If you are interested, I answer precisely the question you ask (in the affirmative) in my essay here: The pollen and the electron. Underlying quantum theory is a deterministic dynamics at the Planck scale. The emergent theory at low energies loses predictability because it is not probing precisely enough.

My best regards,

Tejinder

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Member Kevin H Knuth wrote on Apr. 26, 2020 @ 07:42 GMT
Dear Stephen,

I am delighted to see your entry here.

I wish you the best of luck!

Sincerely,

Kevin Knuth

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David Brown wrote on Apr. 26, 2020 @ 08:38 GMT
"Quantum formalism sets a definite limit on the deterministic universe predicted by Newtonian mechanics."

Consider Lestone's theory of virtual cross sections:

Lestone, John Paul. Possible reason for the numerical value of the fine-structure constant. No. LA-UR-18-21550. Los Alamos National Lab.(LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States), 2018.

Consider the following hypothesis: Lestone's theory is either wrong or it requires a new law of physics.

According to some of the string theorists, spacetime is doomed. If spacetime is doomed then is a new uncertainty principle required? What might be wrong with the following?

There exists a Lestone-maximum-mass > 0, such that for any massive elementary particle in the Standard Model of particle physics,

(standard deviation of position) * (standard deviation of velocity) ≥

(reduced-Planck's-constant/2) / (Lestone-maximum-mass) .

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Vladimir Rogozhin wrote on Apr. 26, 2020 @ 16:41 GMT
Dear Stephen,

You give very good doubts in the spirit of Descartes. As Hegel said “The owl of Minerva begins its flight only at dusk.”...To overcome the modern crisis of understanding in the philosophical basis of knowledge today, mathematicians and physicists must stubbornly "dig" to the most remote meaning-distinguishable ontological depths. Carlo Rovelli is right: Physics Needs...

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Luca Valeri wrote on Apr. 29, 2020 @ 06:28 GMT
Hi Stephen,

Laplace's demon is such an good and inspiring topic in the context of this essay contest. And despite some principled limits of knowability, known from current physics (thermodynamics and quantum mechanics) as you mentioned in your essay and also from Gödel's theorem, which limits the knowability for formal languages, it is extremely difficult for me to think away the possible existence of a Laplace's demon.

This certainly is because I imagine the world in a simplistic realist way (what I criticise in my essay). But also because I haven't really seen a convincing derivation of the need of probability as a fundamental concept of the laws of physics that isn't merely epistemic (a limit of knowledge of the subjects taking part at the reality). Even if quantum mechanics suggests that randomness is not merely an epistemic problem.

Hopefully, we find in this contest an essay that can do that. Let me know if you do.

Thanks for you essay,

Luca

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Member Tejinder Pal Singh replied on Apr. 29, 2020 @ 12:28 GMT
Sorry to barge in Luca. Request you to kindly see my essay, The pollen and the electron, which addresses this very question.

Thank you,

Tejinder

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Lachlan Cresswell wrote on Apr. 30, 2020 @ 09:04 GMT
Dear Stephen,

A most enjoyable essay. I cover similar ground in my essay, which I hope you will read and comment on (I look at LaPlace’s demon and Maxwell’s demon with respect to quantum uncertainty).

I would like to state that I am not a fan of many of the interpretations of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle (HUP). I would make a comment that from my ‘Machian’ perspective...

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Syed Raiyan Nuri Reza wrote on Apr. 30, 2020 @ 18:31 GMT
Dear Stephen Klein,

We are delighted to find an undergrad level student here like us!

However, your essay was as good as any other we have encountered here, both in terms of presentation and content!

The line that resonated most with us was:

“Furthermore, our mathematical formalism and analysis of nature are unavoidably human”.

The crux of our argument presented in our essay, which we hope you find interesting enough to read, analyzes the link between mathematics and cognition.

Kind Regards,

Raiyan Reza and Rastin Reza

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Yutaka Shikano wrote on May. 4, 2020 @ 21:42 GMT
Dear Stephen,

Great to see a young talented student such as you at this context. In this context,I think that the past essay article to be published from the book is closely linked to your question. The partial answer was given but your clear viewpoint cannot be answered in my viewpoint of the past essay.

Best wishes,

Yutaka

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James Lee Hoover wrote on May. 7, 2020 @ 17:04 GMT
Stephen,

"Despite the holes in our physical theories and the valid questions of our impartiality as human beings, we can regard our physics as predictive." As I say "Maybe, by the passing of a trillion tomorrows." And regarding bridging quantum to classical states, which you mention, US & Austrian physicists have evidence of that, which I site in my essay. An interesting discussion, Stephen.

Jim Hoover

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Member Kevin H Knuth wrote on May. 12, 2020 @ 18:33 GMT
Dear Stephen,

Let me first say that I am both delighted and impressed that you entered the fray! I found your essay to be well-written, interesting, thought-provoking, and enjoyable.

I really enjoyed how you brought together multiple examples of information and indeterminism under the context of Laplace's demon. I am especially delighted to see this because, as an educator, I often worry that we present physics to our students as if everything is well-known and well-understood. Clearly, you have an excellent grasp of a number of things that are not well-understood.

Keep thinking and wondering! There is much that we all have yet to learn!

Thank you again!

Kevin

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