Search FQXi


If you are aware of an interesting new academic paper (that has been published in a peer-reviewed journal or has appeared on the arXiv), a conference talk (at an official professional scientific meeting), an external blog post (by a professional scientist) or a news item (in the mainstream news media), which you think might make an interesting topic for an FQXi blog post, then please contact us at forums@fqxi.org with a link to the original source and a sentence about why you think that the work is worthy of discussion. Please note that we receive many such suggestions and while we endeavour to respond to them, we may not be able to reply to all suggestions.

Please also note that we do not accept unsolicited posts and we cannot review, or open new threads for, unsolicited articles or papers. Requests to review or post such materials will not be answered. If you have your own novel physics theory or model, which you would like to post for further discussion among then FQXi community, then please add them directly to the "Alternative Models of Reality" thread, or to the "Alternative Models of Cosmology" thread. Thank you.

Contests Home


Previous Contests

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

Forum Home
Introduction
Terms of Use

Order posts by:
 chronological order
 most recent first

Posts by the author are highlighted in orange; posts by FQXi Members are highlighted in blue.

By using the FQXi Forum, you acknowledge reading and agree to abide by the Terms of Use

 RSS feed | RSS help
RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Eckard Blumschein: on 12/18/08 at 17:00pm UTC, wrote Herewith I suggest to all who are using negative and imaginary numbers in...

T H Ray: on 12/9/08 at 19:11pm UTC, wrote Ryan, I had to ponder for a while your statement, "Measurements follow the...

Ryan Westafer: on 12/5/08 at 16:53pm UTC, wrote Tom, Just "wow." There is so much truth in what you say. Your comments...

T H Ray: on 12/5/08 at 12:13pm UTC, wrote Ryan, You wrtie: "Well, then I realized, having played in ensembles...

Ryan Westafer: on 12/5/08 at 0:37am UTC, wrote Tom, Thanks for re-reading! I'm so glad I could communicate the beauty to...

T H Ray: on 12/4/08 at 18:32pm UTC, wrote Ryan, Anoher thing jumped out at me as I re-read. Your analogy of the...

Ryan Westafer: on 12/3/08 at 20:35pm UTC, wrote Thanks for your critique, Peter. It seems you point out my unorthodox...

Peter Morgan: on 12/3/08 at 15:38pm UTC, wrote Hi, Ryan, thanks for your comment on my essay. I had read and quite...


RECENT FORUM POSTS

Joe Fisher: "Today’s Closer To Truth Facebook page contained this peculiar..." in Dissolving Quantum...

Georgina Woodward: "Just shutting up and calculating won't do. The steps are; correctly..." in Space-time from Collapse...

Joe Fisher: "Today’s Closer To Truth Facebook page contained this peculiar..." in Dissolving Quantum...

Georgina Woodward: "Specifically identifying and naming the issue is a significant advance. It..." in Space-time from Collapse...

Steven Andresen: "Anybody got the inside word on the theme for this years essay contest? ..." in Alternative Models of...

john smith: "It's a new thing for my knowledge I am looking for the same I recently..." in Neutrino mysteries,...

Elina Williams: "Technology is becoming an integral part of our life. From handheld devices..." in Manipulating the Quantum...

Jena Somerhalder: "Hello! I must say this post is very interesting for reading. I found there..." in Time in Physics & Entropy...


RECENT ARTICLES
click titles to read articles

Dissolving Quantum Paradoxes
The impossibility of building a perfect clock could help explain away microscale weirdness.

Constructing a Theory of Life
An all-encompassing framework of physics could help to explain the evolution of consciousness, intelligence, and free will.

Usurping Quantum Theory
The search is on for a fundamental framework that allows for even stranger links between particles than quantum theory—which could lead us to a theory of everything.

Fuzzballs v Black Holes
A radical theory replaces the cosmic crunchers with fuzzy quantum spheres, potentially solving the black-hole information paradox and explaining away the Big Bang and the origin of time.

Whose Physics Is It Anyway? Q&A with Chanda Prescod-Weinstein
Why physics and astronomy communities must take diversity issues seriously in order to do good science.


FQXi FORUM
November 13, 2018

CATEGORY: The Nature of Time Essay Contest (2008) [back]
TOPIC: The Nature of Time: Turning the Kaleidoscope by Ryan Sloan Westafer [refresh]
Bookmark and Share
Login or create account to post reply or comment.

Ryan Sloan Westafer wrote on Dec. 1, 2008 @ 11:23 GMT
Essay Abstract

The idea of a harmonious universe is one with which scientists and philosophers have sympathized for centuries. Of course, many such as Tolman, have revealed difficulties with original oscillatory models, typically citing divergent entropy or difficulty with singularities. By scientific judgement and recent developments, I am compelled to resort to such a model in the description of time. In this paper, we will consider both forward and backward time (and everything else) as nature’s harmonious and balanced arrangement to allow something in spite of nothing. First I will clarify the qualities and pervasive generality of a resonant universe. Second, I will highlight and show connections among several observed properties of time including: entropic irreversibility, the fluctuation theorem and Loschmidt’s paradox, and the eventual decay of matter. Finally, I conclude with corroboration, potential validation, suggestions for our improvement, and a bit of reflection.

Author Bio

Ryan Westafer is a Ph.D. student in electrical engineering at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, GA, USA. Evidently he is working hard in extracurricular studies which are unlikely to advance his graduation. Having also received his MSECE and BS (Computer Engineering) degrees from Georgia Tech, Ryan is a "lifer" at Tech and would love to do it all again, although of course, not exactly the same way. Ending this philosophical excursion, he will continue his own life balance with a return to applied research.

Download Essay PDF File

Bookmark and Share



Ryan Westafer wrote on Dec. 2, 2008 @ 07:21 GMT
Below is a URL at which everyone can download the entire collection of essays (33MB ZIP Archive). This will hopefully allow me (and you all) a good way to read and categorize all these very diverse and interesting essays. I wish everyone success in navigating this massive amount of material! I counted 112 essays, and I did a single pass verifying the last name of each file.

http://www.ryanwestafer.com/stuff/FQXi_Essays_Contest_2
008.zip

Bookmark and Share



Ryan Westafer wrote on Dec. 2, 2008 @ 17:16 GMT
I have updated the archive to reflect three additional papers posted Dec. 2.

Archive is available at:

http://www.ryanwestafer.com/stuff/FQXi_Essays_Contest_200
8.zip

Bookmark and Share



Ryan Westafer wrote on Dec. 2, 2008 @ 19:37 GMT
Yet again, I just added 4 new papers. I will continue to update the online archive and I will not make subsequent posts about it.

Bookmark and Share



T H Ray wrote on Dec. 3, 2008 @ 01:11 GMT
Hi Ryan,

I loved your essay!

"Perhaps we need to look through the kaleidoscope while standing in front of a universal mirror (of all action)..." is profound.

I am already looking forward to reading more of your work in what is sure to be a brilliant career.

Tom

Bookmark and Share



Peter Morgan wrote on Dec. 3, 2008 @ 15:38 GMT
Hi, Ryan, thanks for your comment on my essay. I had read and quite appreciated your essay, but I couldn't find a focus for a comment. I can see lots of ideas in your paper that I could hang a hat on, where I think, from my POV, that you've picked a good thing to think important enough to mention, but I think your essay lacks sufficient focus as a whole, and ultimately doesn't bring the ideas together enough. Sorry! One of the things that takes many years in Foundations of Physics, one reason why you're well-advised to go back to applied research, is the honing of focus while still saying something interesting about foundations.

The closest thing you have to a fundamental focus, particularly with regard to the Nature of Time, seems to me to be the entropy thing, but I have a quibble with this: "if we compute a phase space volume for an initial state then any subsequent state exhibits at least an infinitesimally larger volume". This is only true if there are interactions with DoFs external to the system, otherwise phase space volume is conserved in a Hamiltonian system, right? Of course there are always external DoFs, unless we have a truly fundamental model that includes Every DoF and gets the dynamics Exactly right (wow, if so). The above statement is also sloppy, in that an initial "state" is either a point in phase space, with zero volume, or it is a measurable function on phase space. I find entropy problematic as a fundamental mathematical object because it requires a foliation of space-time to construct a phase space --- I'm never sure whether this is something I should worry about, but my approach to quantum field theory suggests that there should be a Lorentz invariant thermodynamic dual to quantum fluctuations, just as entropy is the thermodynamic dual to thermal fluctuations (or, rather, to the scale of thermal fluctuations, temperature), and that the relationship between these two concepts is quite complicated.

One thing I quite enjoyed was your writing style, despite being taken to so many points of interest along the way that my head fairly span. I'll comment on my essay comment thread as well. Feel free to tell me that I have no focus discernible to you. I often think so, though the moments when things seem a little clear to me are precious.

Bookmark and Share



Ryan Westafer wrote on Dec. 3, 2008 @ 20:35 GMT
Thanks for your critique, Peter.

It seems you point out my unorthodox approach. I think backward from many people. I'm sorry the presentation didn't appeal to your reasoning, so I will clarify a few things below. Many people have posed additional questions. 10 pages isn't enough. (I just posted FAQs on my website: http://www.ryanwestafer.com/stuff/wordpress/2008/the-harmoni
c-universe-and-the-kaleidoscope)

First, you are correct in your point about a volume of phase space, but my statement is also correct. I chose my words carefully. Would you like to compute anything which is not finite? Every quantum mechanical problem I have solved (OK, yes they were from textbooks) only computed to a finite volume of phase space. Otherwise, we would never finish computing.

Second, use caution referring to "internal" and "external" with this model- it is self-contained. In the electricity example, we saw that the generator must be considered when power is dissipated at the light bulb. I even mentioned in the kaleidoscope section that you might consider: if I am turning the kaleidoscope... how am I doing so? Step outside yourself- think big! There is no bound in the depth of the atom, and there is no bound in the expanse of space as you look toward a black hole. Well, not for the timeless *complete* mathematical universe- however, in our state, we may find quantities which are *approximately* constant, e.g. the bias represented by the thermodynamic arrow. The bias is only possible if our state does not exist for all time, space, or energy: however you'd like to view it. I think this is evident and intuitive.

I started with a model I've enjoyed for some time now, and then I set out to describe the nature of time. I took a relevant subset of the concepts I could recall and reduced them to the oscillating universe model, and then, from that foundation, subsequent generalization to several other areas of physics just flowed naturally, though it left my mind "atwirl" as it apparently did yours. It has been a journey for me, and I'm sorry it wasn't enjoyable for you. I thought that a more fundamental description of time and its origins should lead to much more- and it did.

Maybe come back to my paper after reading some others. There are some amazing papers in this lot, and I see similarities in several! Taken together, there is much progress here. I am excited.

I appreciate that you enjoy my writing style... it felt natural. At least something struck you positively, but even so, I wish academic papers (and a Ph.D. dissertation) so written would be accepted! Matriculating from a Ph.D. program would then come naturally too.

Bookmark and Share



T H Ray wrote on Dec. 4, 2008 @ 18:32 GMT
Ryan,

Anoher thing jumped out at me as I re-read. Your analogy of the cacophonous noise caused by different symphonies playing different scores reminded me that Einstein (a gifted violinist), IIRC, said that one can correctly and in detail describe a symphony as variations in sound wave pressure; such a description would not, he added, inform us of the meaning of a symphony.

We cannot substitute technique for meaning. The tools are not the art. For what it's worth, I think you have just the right POV to focus a complex systems approach on the problem of time that I find quite productive, for on that stage, sounds are laterally distributed among instruments called to task singly and en masse, all coordinated toward keeping time with the rythm of the score.

Tom

Bookmark and Share



Ryan Westafer wrote on Dec. 5, 2008 @ 00:37 GMT
Tom,

Thanks for re-reading! I'm so glad I could communicate the beauty to someone. Your further analogy is great! I was about to ask you where we could envision the conductor in this analogy, because I have been curious about that as well.

Well, then I realized, having played in ensembles before, that a group may play very well with out a conductor- if the musicians are not separated by large distances. Feedback among musicians makes this possible, by careful listening while playing. But then, with each musician having adjusted faster or slower to meet at a group tempo, the actual value of the tempo may have converged to something not exactly as the composer intended. It seems there is a duality here as well. When consensus is reached, something most have been compromised. "Sync" by Strogatz provides much insight into such behaviors.

After a couple days' reflection, it really seems to me that I have been studying tautology- and that science studies the structures allowed under tautology. A hint of this was in the kaleidoscope-in-the-mirror statement you appreciated. Physicists are already studying all sorts of automorphisms and generalized rotations to connect all the observed fields. So, with such "trivial" in mind, I should go back the other way- to taking measurements in the lab. We don't know what beautiful details await us in the world, but we are able to look for them. Measurements follow the entropic arrow, so they allow us to realize the future by providing information- a basis for prediction. By Shannon mutual entropy over a time channel (if I may), our observations fall into the past, but they also indicate the future.

Fortunately there is a lot more fascinating truth to the "redundant universe" for people to study...

e.g. that triviality also affords infinite complexity. In some sort of intuitive way, 0 and infinity balance, though I'm not sure how to mathematically express that. As yet, the product zero times infinity remains undetermined- it likely admits infinitely many solutions.

Thanks for taking the time for this conversation! I am not seeing much conversation on this forum. My goal is to read all the essays, but that leaves little time for comments. Maybe everyone else is also reading. I hope so.

-Ryan

Bookmark and Share



T H Ray wrote on Dec. 5, 2008 @ 12:13 GMT
Ryan,

You wrtie: "Well, then I realized, having played in ensembles before, that a group may play very well with out a conductor- if the musicians are not separated by large distances. Feedback among musicians makes this possible, by careful listening while playing. But then, with each musician having adjusted faster or slower to meet at a group tempo, the actual value of the tempo may have converged to something not exactly as the composer intended."

I concur. In fact, that is the insight that led me to the result in my ICCS 2007 paper: Negative feedback informs the present; positive feedback informs the future. Negative feedback, in fact, substitutes for the "conductor." They are the same thing. In a time-dependent network model, conductors change position according to the scale of measure. Google for Braha & Bar-Yam, "From centrality to temporary fame: dynamic centrality in complex networks."

In other words, the partial order that massive coordinated future events impose on the present appears cacophonous from a future perspective because the aggregation of past symphonies and present symphonies at one instant is the same as your metaphor of many orchestras playing different scores at once.

A dissipative system in which time pays an active physical role guarantees a local one dimension succession of beats by negative feedback, while simultaneosuly creating a positive feedback loop with the future, which increases the potential for greater varieties of negative feedback potential in the partially ordered present.

You continue, "It seems there is a duality here as well. When consensus is reached, something most have been compromised. "Sync" by Strogatz provides much insight into such behaviors."

I plan to invest more study into Strogatz, Watts, et al, and small world networks. Perhaps we can travel that path together. From a future perspective, we have all the time in the world. :-)

Just one more comment: You write, "In some sort of intuitive way, 0 and infinity balance, though I'm not sure how to mathematically express that."

For physical applications, I think the central limit theorem and regression to the mean are sufficient.

Tom

Bookmark and Share



Ryan Westafer wrote on Dec. 5, 2008 @ 16:53 GMT
Tom,

Just "wow." There is so much truth in what you say. Your comments really resonate with me. (By the way, I'm seeing the word "resonate with" more and more in business and social contexts, too)

I woke up thinking about "Time Counts." Later today I will read it again, and yes, I think there is a great opportunity to work together.

Bookmark and Share



T H Ray wrote on Dec. 9, 2008 @ 19:11 GMT
Ryan,

I had to ponder for a while your statement, "Measurements follow the entropic arrow, so they allow us to realize the future by providing information- a basis for prediction. By Shannon mutual entropy over a time channel (if I may), our observations fall into the past, but they also indicate the future." Not because I disagree with it--I fully agree with it--but because I was looking for a way to diagram it.

Suppose one draws a squiggly vertical line to represent a singularity. Curved lines drawn over the top and bottom of the singularity form a convex-lens shape (gravitational lensing). Label the area left of the singularity, "present," and the area to the right of the isngularity, "past." If the past is assigned a negative value and the present a positive value, the singularity would be the zero-valued future. The past area is empty; information from the past is channeled along the 1-dimensional edges of the "lens;" the present area is filled with events. An observer from the present cannot look back into the past without staring into the future of the black hole event horizon. Connecting with my own theory:

Because we live in a 10 dimension event space, which as I calculated and explained is identical to the 4-dimension horizon, our only access to the past is in the one-dimensional time parameter. The asymptotic lines trailing to the right where the "lens" closes (but not quite) is the d >= 11, n-dimension Hilbert space. The "emptiness" of the past space is handled analytically in my mathematical model by calculation in the complex plane for reasons that I think shouold be obvious--the 2-dimensionality of the information channel (the surface of the lens' edge) is a negatively valued space, and the ratio of two negative complex numbers is real and positive.

All best,

Tom

Bookmark and Share



Eckard Blumschein wrote on Dec. 18, 2008 @ 17:00 GMT
Herewith I suggest to all who are using negative and imaginary numbers in physics to read the attached "lecture" of mine and to take issue if they do not agree. Who agrees should realize that there might be flaws in commonly accepted tenets.

attachments: 5_Microsoft_Word__How_do_negative_and_imaginary.pdf

Bookmark and Share



Login or create account to post reply or comment.

Please enter your e-mail address:
Note: Joining the FQXi mailing list does not give you a login account or constitute membership in the organization.