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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Florin Moldoveanu: on 10/31/09 at 2:13am UTC, wrote Hi Owen, Sorry for the delay, I was really busy at work and I had to put...

Owen Cunningham: on 10/29/09 at 20:19pm UTC, wrote Hi Florin, I wrote: “That is, just as yours asks 'What behaviors exist...

Owen Cunningham: on 10/27/09 at 17:13pm UTC, wrote Hi Florin, I'm posting a copy of this message in both your and my forum. ...

Florin Moldoveanu: on 10/26/09 at 3:48am UTC, wrote Hi Owen, Thank you for your answers. You did understand my questions, but...

Owen Cunningham: on 10/25/09 at 16:18pm UTC, wrote Hi Florin, That was very helpful, thank you. I think I understand the...

Florin Moldoveanu: on 10/25/09 at 4:59am UTC, wrote Hi Owen, It is not as hard as it sounds. Let’s take an empty cube....

Owen Cunningham: on 10/24/09 at 23:48pm UTC, wrote Hi Florin, I don't have any actual physics training or background, so I...

Florin Moldoveanu: on 10/24/09 at 13:44pm UTC, wrote Dear Owen, I read your essay, and I am stuck at one point. We know that in...


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FQXi FORUM
October 21, 2019

CATEGORY: What's Ultimately Possible in Physics? Essay Contest (2009) [back]
TOPIC: A New Kind of New Kind of Science by Owen Thomas Cunningham [refresh]
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Author Owen Thomas Cunningham wrote on Sep. 17, 2009 @ 10:20 GMT
Essay Abstract

As a science amateur and software professional, I find the digital physics community's fixation on the bit disheartening. To the extent that John Archibald Wheeler's "It from bit" (echoed by Seth Lloyd) or MIT's "Center for Bits and Atoms" represent mere whimsical euphemism for computation as a whole, that is one thing; but I get the impression that a good many of the thought leaders in this area genuinely believe that a computational model of everything is rooted in the bit. I think there are several compelling reasons why those thought leaders should at least consider abandoning this belief. This paper discusses those reasons and then presents an alternative conception of digital physics that I call computational ontology.

Author Bio

Owen Cunningham began programming computers at age 6, and began getting paid to do so at age 16. He has been a network engineer, server and database administrator, software architect, and personnel manager in the technology industry for 16 years. He has an Associate's Degree in math from Manchester Community College. He is an architect at FitLinxx, Inc. in Massachusetts.

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Steve Dufourny wrote on Sep. 18, 2009 @ 17:37 GMT
Hello Mr Owen Thomas Cunningham,

It's instructive ,especially for me who don't encircle how act these computers really .I begin to encircle a little but I don't know the base ,I need the base in fact ,it's the most important .It exists probably a specific language and codes and algorythms thus but how is the main coordination,a center is necessary ,I think what if all is focus on spherical...

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Author Owen Thomas Cunningham wrote on Sep. 18, 2009 @ 18:00 GMT
Hello Steve,

Thank you for taking the time to read my paper.

I would like to respond to your comment, but I am barely able to understand it. What is your native language? If it is French, post again en Francais, and I will reply in same.

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Steve Dufourny wrote on Sep. 19, 2009 @ 11:36 GMT
Hello ,

Sorry for my french ,sya me please ,is it so bad my french ,There I am going to take a professor ,really ,in fact I learn english with the dictionnary .And apparently it's incomprehensible ,hihihih I must study a little the language ,it's not my force like the computing and engeniering .

Dear Mr Cunningham ,do you speak french ?

Regards

Steve

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Lawrence B. Crowell wrote on Sep. 19, 2009 @ 13:02 GMT
I have been looking at your paper some, though not yet in detail. It appears that you are examining the universe as a sort of processor or possibly as meromorphic to an algorithm. There are several other papers which have some connection here. In my paper I argue for the existence of a quantum critial point in the evaluation of the cosmological constant:

Can we see into a black hole? by Lawrence B Crowell

http://www.fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/494

In there I argue that quantum flcutations for S-dual systems, such as strings interacting with black holes are driven by quantum fluctuations sufficiently large as to determine the ordering of a system. Abhijnan Rej has a related paper where he examines the computational complexity of this problem:

Turing's Landscape: decidability, computability and complexity in string theory by Abhijnan Rej

http://www.fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/505

In there he find that the problem is not polynomial, but NP or PSPACE. This seems to lend itself to questions of quantum computation and issues of distributed computational architectures of the sort you discuss.

Lev Goldfarb has some related ideas involving computational systems

What is possible in physics depends on the chosen representational formalism by Lev Goldfarb

http://www.fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/482

Cheers LC

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Steve Dufourny wrote on Sep. 19, 2009 @ 13:34 GMT
Bonjour Monsieur Cunningham ,

Je suis enchanté de faire votre connaissance .

Mon Anglais is littéral en fait ,ce qui implique ,dés lors ,certaines maladresses de ma part lors de mes interventions sur les forums .

J'en suis navré ,je me dois d'être un peu plus exigeant envers mon anglais et ce pour des détails explicatifs plus cernables et compréhensibles pour les...

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Anonymous wrote on Sep. 21, 2009 @ 05:27 GMT
You say:

"...gauge theory chauvinists..."

"Although this paper draws on elements of physics, computer science, and mathematics, it does not attempt to definitively answer any questions or solve any problems in any of those areas."

I say: instead of being rude and not saying anything relevant to physics, you should withdraw from this contest.

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Author Owen Thomas Cunningham wrote on Sep. 21, 2009 @ 12:29 GMT
Dear anonymous, I am sorry you feel attacked by my submission. I certainly don't intend to attack anyone, especially since later in the section where I first use the term "gauge theory chauvinist" I explicitly say "fiber bundles...are very useful, and not to be knocked by any means." Even if one strongly believes in the explanatory power of gauge theories, and therefore feels somehow put down by a phrase like "gauge theory chauvinist," it still seems a bit of a logical leap to conclude from that emotional reaction that my entire paper says nothing relevant to physics. Any paper that purports to explain the hierarchy problem, baryon asymmetry problem, black holes, the unexpected acceleration of the expansion of the universe without resorting to dark energy, and the arrow-of-time problem without resorting to entropy presumably deserves meatier, more substantive criticisms levied against it than "I found its author rude." Perhaps if you stop posting anonymously we can salvage this exchange into a productive dialogue.

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Author Owen Thomas Cunningham wrote on Sep. 21, 2009 @ 13:00 GMT
Hello Steve,

I will reply in English; let me know if anything needs clarification.

You said:

"I was wondering if a 3d design of our Universe was intended as an optimised and realistic topology, physical and basic? It would be, in fact, very interesting to focus on a correlated rational coding to fundamentals of physics, with an adapted and fundamentally universal...

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Steve Dufourny wrote on Sep. 21, 2009 @ 17:14 GMT
Dear Mr Cunningham,

Thanks for your answer .

In fact it's not the same ,in my model ,The Theory of Spherisation ,a UTE of Rotating Spheres .The numbers os spheres ,entangled is specific with their volumes too thus specifics lattices too and that in an evolution point of vue and the rotations .

Furthermore the fractal is correlated with these realities and the infinity is not inserted in my model .Like pi and its infinity .

In the Hausdorf dimension ,ln x/lny..it's different ,but very interesting to calculate .

here the sphericality and the specificity of quantum and cosmological spheres is essential .Thus the fractal is specific,a specific fractal since the begining .

Pi is relevant indeed .

What is a graph-theoretic fractal with Hausdorff dimension pi ?

Could you explain me please? It's interesting all that

Regards

Steve

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Steve Dufourny wrote on Sep. 21, 2009 @ 17:25 GMT
I begin to understand with the order and the triangle of Sierpinski and others fractals .

This ratio is relevant between ln.

The logic for me with what I see on wikipedia is the Baderne D'apolonius for the realism with Big Bang .Of course this system must be in 3D and the good numbers of quantum and cosmological spheres entangled with their specific volumes and rotations .

The spherical waves with the evolution can be correlated too.

Very very relevant thanks Mr Cunningham ,I begin to encircle how are build the pictures too on the pc .In fact the fractals are incredible in their properties ,if the series and harmonics are inserted thus it's very very relevant .

Best Regards

Steve

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Steve Dufourny wrote on Sep. 21, 2009 @ 17:35 GMT
And if we take the prime number thus 1 3 ....thus the Main central sphere like a mitose with 3 at the Big Bang ...the Badern of Apolonius thus is specific in a 3D sphere with a specific harmonix oscillation ,an universal mitose fractal with spheres .

I imagine the entanglement ,incredible with all these spheres .And all connected by contact and rotations ,waves .

More some without rotations due to our young age ,probably the Dark Matter .

Regards

Steve

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Steve Dufourny wrote on Sep. 21, 2009 @ 18:15 GMT
On wikipedia ,I see others systems like "the Theorem of Descartes", and a list of fractals ,it's very very relevant.

I see in resume a 3D fractals of spheres ,with a specific serie ,like the Apolonius system ,where the numbers of cosmological spheres are entangled ,we can correlate the velocity of rotations like proportional with the mass of the quantum architecture .

The series is specific since the Big Bang multiplication of quantum spheres .

Our number ,quantum and cosmologic is probably the same .How many centers exist is our Universe ,Super BH ...BH Stars planets moons (asteroids) .

Thus how many spheres turn around the universal center where all has begun ?

The quantum architecture is like a code of becoming where all sphere mass are harmonized .The maximum contact in the quantum dimension is important for the rotations ,the waves and the oscillations and frequences .

What do you think about please ?

Regards

Steve

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Author Owen Thomas Cunningham wrote on Sep. 21, 2009 @ 19:38 GMT
Steve,

I think your ideas are complex enough that you probably should submit a paper to this contest, assuming you aren't already working on one!

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A critic wrote on Sep. 21, 2009 @ 19:38 GMT
Dear Mr. Cunningham,

OK, I accept your challenge. Please explain how your essay is passing the “Acceptability” criteria as specified by FQXI: “essays must satisfy minimal criteria of quality, relevance and propriety, as determined by the sole discretion of FQXi. (The great majority of entries will satisfy this criterion.) “

Propriety: “gauge theory chauvinists”

Relevance: “Although this paper draws on elements of physics, computer science, and mathematics, it does not attempt to definitively answer any questions or solve any problems in any of those areas.”

So in your very own words, you admit you do not definitively answer any questions or solve any problems in physics, computer science, and mathematics. I am not concerned with computer science or mathematics here, but this is a physics contest.

Quality: “Here are some reasons even for the gauge theory chauvinists not to dismiss computational ontology out of hand: […] Black holes. Computational ontology would explain black holes as active Object instances whose threads got caught in a recursive infinite loop. If mass is actually stack space, then an infinitely recursing thread would appear to other Objects as an entity of infinite mass.”

Black holes do not have infinite mass. You are lacking an elementary understanding about them and yet you make a plea to “gauge theory chauvinists” not to dismiss your “computational ontology”

To make the point about quality clear, let’s imagine that I participate at a computer science essay contest about software architecture and I would say something like this:

“Here are some reasons even for the software architects chauvinists not to dismiss the hypothesis of computer souls out of hand: […] Blue screen. Computers having feelings would explain the blue screen of death as the computer being extremely mad at his incompetent owner.”

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Author Owen Thomas Cunningham wrote on Sep. 21, 2009 @ 21:12 GMT
Dear Critic,

Before delving into the substance of our discussion, let me first point out that this is the second time you have failed to identify yourself, and the first time you have failed to do so after being explicitly asked to. While I welcome the opportunity to defend my paper against thoughtful criticism from anyone, general norms of internet etiquette do not require me to do so...

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Steve Dufourny wrote on Sep. 23, 2009 @ 09:06 GMT
Hi Mr Cunningham ,

Yes indeed you are right ,but the problem is what I don't know how can I do to resume and to condensate my researchs and works .Furthermore my english is too bad for a contest .

Furthermore I dislike the competition ,but of course I must adapt me to the system .

In all case ,thanks for the advice ,it's nice .

Good luck for the contest .

Regards

Steve

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Steve Dufourny wrote on Sep. 24, 2009 @ 10:52 GMT
Dear Mr Cunningham ,

I agree too with Mr Critic ,but who is it ?? ,the Black holes do not have infinite mass,all is finite in our physicallity ,the infinity is only mathematical in fact .

The mathematic and the physic are harmonized when the fundamentals of physics are inserted with pragmatism .

Without that ,it's only imaginaries ,it's better to use reals in my opinion.

The computing is human ,and our universal laws ,them are universals .

The synchronization with math and physics is fundamental when the physicality is taken in its whole .

For the strings ,it's finished ,the end of strings ....sorry for the sell of books .But it's like that ,the strings are a lost of time ,simply like the imaginaries which aren't in the fundamenatls .

Sincerely

Steve

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Georgina Parry wrote on Sep. 30, 2009 @ 21:41 GMT
This essay does not really answers the essay question of what is ultimately possible in physics. However I do think that it was brave to enter the contest and I have really appreciated the opportunity to read this essay. Which is both informative and comprehensible, unlike some of the other entries.

I am quite sure that rather than being mere computers it will be found that both the mind and universe are highly dynamic in function. Understanding both the universe and the mind will be about understanding flow of energy, the pathways, rather than individual bits of information or particles. That is why I found your essay so interesting.

Within the brain flows of energy cascade along various pathways, some building into bigger flows that reinforce, with resultant effects others not reaching their destination and being filtered out. In time computer technology may develop to mimic the dynamics found in nature, which may then lead to greater abilities within computing, such as real AI that is able to think rather than just compute. That would be what is ultimately possible in computing. I am not however convinced we can use current understanding of computing and analogies based on that understanding to understand the function of universe or mind.

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Lev Goldfarb wrote on Oct. 1, 2009 @ 14:34 GMT
Dear Owen,

As promised, here is my ‘two-cents-worth’ opinion.

In your essay, you chose to approach the relationship between computer science and physics via some original object-oriented “hardware” models.

I, on the other hand, feel strongly that the contribution of information science to physics can only be realized if a fundamentally new model of information processing *in nature* is proposed, which is supposed to shed new light on the nature of physical processes. Once such model is ‘on the table’, we can then move on to its various hardware ‘implementation’.

So, unfortunately, I am not able to comment much on your proposal, ;─) since I have to see first the abstract model behind it.

Best wishes to you!

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Narendra Nath wrote on Oct. 7, 2009 @ 03:57 GMT
i do find this essay as a lesson to teach Computer science to the community. Only towards the end, it attempts to correlate some topic heads in Physics with possible scope for treatment through pure computational means. However not a single problem was demonstrated in the text.

It is hard to visualize that the dark matter and visible matter can be simply taken care of through active and passive networking. There is dynamic actions through dark energy in the universe expansion. Also, there was an initial evolution that happened in 'no' time following the Big bang. i do not envisage or foresee the applications coming out for Physics in any substantial way through this approach.It can however implement a theory based on pure random walk for a physical process, as the computational application. But theory itself still requires physical variables that may not all conform to such a treatment.

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Ray Munroe wrote on Oct. 8, 2009 @ 14:19 GMT
Dear Owen,

To give you some background information on me. I received my doctorate in high-energy physics phenomenology. I was trained in theory, but actually wrote my thesis in applied theory: I used the ISASUSY/ ISAJET computer-based event simulation program to model the discovery and analysis of Supersymmetry at the (as yet not built) International Linear Collider (ILC). I later worked...

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Owen Cunningham wrote on Oct. 8, 2009 @ 21:15 GMT
------------------------------------------------------------
--------------------

From: Ray Munroe Jr

To: Owen Cunningham

Sent: Thu, October 8, 2009 5:03:17 PM

Subject: RE: Hi from Ray Munroe

That sounds good, Owen.

Take Care!

Ray

----------------------------------------------------
----------------------------

From: Owen...

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Author Owen Thomas Cunningham wrote on Oct. 9, 2009 @ 19:10 GMT
Hello Georgina,

Thank you for taking the time to read my essay and comment on it.

Forgetting about my paper for a moment, I would be curious to know your opinion of the field of "digital physics" in general. Am I correct to infer from your statement "I am not however convinced we can use current understanding of computing and analogies based on that understanding to understand the function of universe" that you do not ascribe any validity to digital physics?

(I am not sure what to make of your comments about the mind and AI, since my paper was not targeted at those areas.)

You might want to read the exchange I had with Dr. Ray Munroe Jr elsewhere in this forum thread. It helps clarify what the goal of my paper is, and why it is indeed relevant to the theme of this contest.

I hope to post an addendum to it over the next couple days.

Thanks,

Owen Cunningham

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Oct. 10, 2009 @ 16:14 GMT
Hello Owen,

Since I just read the comments about your paper, which you just left on Stephen Wolfram's essay forum page, I must confess that given my background I too should give your paper a read sooner rather than later. You might find my contest essay interesting as well, but I have some other papers which apparently relate strongly to the theoretical territory of your essay. I will report back here, once I have read it, and then attempt to give you a fair review.

All the Best,

Jonathan J. Dickau

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Anonymous wrote on Oct. 11, 2009 @ 19:55 GMT
Your comment about digital physics re my comment, both in Wolfram's entry, deserves clarification.. Wolfram shows discrete simple processes' outputs are compatible with otherwise woefully complex continuous models. Blog "Dot Physics" routinely shows an Excel spreadsheet trumps equations. So digital physics in silico. Process biases perception. Mathematics is not empirical, not a science. Contemporary physics is woefully biased in process (elegant models) exclusive of product (useful prediction). A bench chemist demands yield.

Galileo offended the One True Church not by saying Aristotle was crap, but by observably proving it. Physics offends me by saying "we've got it locked" and denying a contradiction within orthodox theory. If local left and right shoes vacuum free fall along non-identical trajectories, no prior observation is contradicted. That augers discovery. Theory that does not accurately predict is wrong whatever its basis, structure, process, peer vote, or writer.

EP tests since Simon Stevin (1586) and Galileo Galilei (1638) are composition-based with zero net output. Composition is EP-inert. Calculation of Petitjean's CHI (normalized parity divergence) for atoms in a lattice is discrete, atom by atom, within a growing enclosing sphere. Calculation of Avnir's measure is global not local. Crystallographic space groups are qualitative not quantitative. Add the odd-parity Chern-Simons term in all quantized gravitations. They all agree, yet physics refuses to fire its SOP gun with a novel bullet. Physics does not fear pulling the trigger, it fears a wrong shooter hitting the target. Ignorance is not a form of knowing things.

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Author Owen Thomas Cunningham wrote on Oct. 12, 2009 @ 12:34 GMT
The previous post is attributed to "Anonymous" but it appears to be from the mysterious alien entity that radio astronomers across the globe have informally dubbed "Uncle Al."

Just so there is continuity for third parties:

(1) Uncle Al, in a comment posted at Wolfram's thread, said: "Most essays here are philosophical and bankrupt. Some are computational, limited by imagination and calculation. Few are experimental, seeking falsification to refine pursuit."

(2) In the same thread, I replied: "Are we to infer from your comment here that you view the computational approach to physics as fundamentally at odds with the experimental ethos that has driven science forward? If so, that is unfortunate, because introducing an experimental angle to the existing, and very young, subspecies of physics known as 'digital physics,' which has heretofore been a purely theoretical genre, is precisely what my paper is attempting to do. In the digital physics world, the best way to conduct experiments is to write some code, run it, and see whether its behavior at all reflects that of the universe."

(3) Above you have declared an intention to clarify something ("Your comment about digital physics re my comment, both in Wolfram's entry, deserves clarification"). I agree clarification would be good. Are you saying I need to clarify my comment in (2), or you need to clarify your comment in (1)?

If the former, let me know and I'll see what I can do; if the latter, I think you have failed to achieve clarity.

I share your preference for experiment over theory and admire the passion with which you remind people (not just in this exchange, but indeed everywhere in this forum) of the proper relationship between those two ways of approaching reality. But when I try to understand your dense, overheated prose, I confess to being unable to extract any other meaning or significance from it besides the aforementioned experiment-uber-alles stance.

So, take a deep breath, stop palming your antipsychotics, and clarify what exactly you were hoping to clarify.

Hugs,

Owen Cunningham

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Alan M. Schwartz wrote on Oct. 12, 2009 @ 22:56 GMT
Thanks for the prior post heads up.

I am immune to little pellets.

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Owen Cunningham wrote on Oct. 13, 2009 @ 00:53 GMT
Uncle Al,

I think I'm impervious to pellets.

Sincerely,

Nephew O

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Oct. 13, 2009 @ 01:57 GMT
Greetings Owen,

I just finished reading your essay. You got or did a lot of things right. I think you were reaching somewhat, at the end, where much of what went before is fairly solid. You describe an interesting new architecture, which I would guess you imagine computationally resembles or describes the universe. It's an interesting hierarchal computational strategy, which is in some...

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Oct. 13, 2009 @ 12:41 GMT
Hello again,

I wanted to share a few thoughts I didn't have time for last night, then I'll read any comments and respond. First; there is a paper by Fotini Markopoulou that might interest you "Planck scale models of the universe" can be found at arXiv: gr-qc/0210086. And she refers to a subject of my special interest, Causal Dynamical Triangulations, that bears a passing resemblance to your computational view - employing what is called a Random Walk or Markov Process. In CDT, a figure called the 4-simplex (or pentachoron) is their 'Lego' block from which the fabric of space is constructed. But their strategy of assembly and determination resembles a cellular automaton.

The CDT papers of most interest are "The Universe from Scratch" at arXiv:hep-th/0509010 and "Reconstructing the Universe" at arXiv:hep-th/0505154. There also was an article in Scientific American, on this subject. This should give you enough background to see the ways their methods resemble and differ from yours.

Please understand that while I think you have a great idea, I feel it's not quite complete as it stands. Therefore; by seeing how it links up with the work of others who have gone down a similar road, you may gain important insights into what works and why that will help you refine your concept into something far more powerful - hopefully with some predictive capacity. I think you are already well on the way to expanding some of the paradigmatic elements that hobble Science, but I think you need an expanded vocabulary or toolset, to accomplish your intended task.

All the Best,

Jonathan J. Dickau

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Oct. 13, 2009 @ 12:56 GMT
Hi yet again,

I just noticed, when I expanded out one of the replies above, that you also found Rucker's "Mind Tools" inspirational. Way cool! I've lots of papers and books to recommend, if you want to dig deeper.

Regards,

Jonathan

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Oct. 13, 2009 @ 14:46 GMT
A Postscript,

Causal Dynamical Triangulations is a computationally intensive theory, which uses a Monte Carlo simulation to reproduce the dynamical aspects of nature. Their unit-cell is the 4-simplex (4-d analog of tetrahedron). It works because it's causal, with the rule being that the timelike edges of the figures must match direction.

The cool part is that their simulation shows fabric of space to be 2-d at the Planck Scale (appealing to Loop Quantum Gravity folks), evolving to 4-d spacetime at larger scales, moving through fractal dimensions at intermediate levels of scale. You will find that Quantum Einstein Gravity (Lauscher & Reuter) makes similar predictions (worth checking out).

All the Best,

Jonathan

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Author Owen Thomas Cunningham wrote on Oct. 13, 2009 @ 16:48 GMT
Hi Jonathan,

Thank you for your detailed and mostly positive comments. It is great to connect with someone who has been reading the same stuff! Or, in truth, MORE of the same stuff than I have. I did indeed read the Scientific American article "The Self-Organizing Quantum Universe" by Jan Ambjørn, Jerzy Jurkiewicz, and Renate Loll. In fact, when I submitted my paper to this contest, I...

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Oct. 14, 2009 @ 02:10 GMT
Greetings Once More,

I thank you, Owen, for your thoughtful response to my remarks. I have written a couple of papers which might be of value in your quest for links between the computational world and the behavior of systems in the physical.

The first appears in Quantum Biosystems Journal, and is entitled How Can Complexity Arise from Minimal Spaces and Systems?. The second was intended and submitted for a special issue of Entropy, but was later withdrawn in part for being inconclusive or contradictory (there were also publishing fees). That paper is now on viXra, and is entitled Does the Non-Locality of Quantum Phenomena Guarantee the Emergence of Entropy?.

I later reconciled some of the paradoxes I was left with at the end of the second paper, and will be presenting the outgrowth of that next month at FFP10 (abstract attached) - a common basis for thermodynamic entropy and quantum non-locality.

I'll attempt to address any questions you have.

All the Best,

Jonathan

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Oct. 14, 2009 @ 13:23 GMT
Whoops,

Forgot to attach the abstract for Do Thermodynamic Entropy and Quantum Non-locality Have a Common Basis? I'll be presenting this at FFP10 in November.

Best Regards,

Jonathan

attachments: 1_Dickau1.pdf

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egalois wrote on Oct. 17, 2009 @ 01:30 GMT
Dear Mr. Cunningham,

I regret your misunderstanding of the theories that I will enclose under the title digital physics, or NKS in the terms you used for your title certainly in reference to Wolfram's theories. Their main universe property is not that it is digital, it is obvious the world is not binary in its representation and operation, otherwise not even full-color pictures would exist. What they mean by digital is not binary but discrete. It's quite unfortunate that being an enthusiast of digital theories you don't make a clear-cut difference between and confuse one with the other in order to present no other but what the better developed digital theories already suggest. I recommend you first to read the sources you are referring too.

Best regards.

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egalois wrote on Oct. 17, 2009 @ 01:35 GMT
I forgot to say that the fact that a discrete alphabet can always be represented by binary notation is not only beautiful but convenient, that's why the 'digital theories' perform their experiments and provide explanations using mostly binary notation. Not because they suggest everything is binary.

Last but not least, IMHO I think that even though your earth-ground description might be interesting, you might lack of some basic theoretical background that would have let you know that there is no sharp clear cut between hardware and software, so it is such a distinction what is rather whimsical.

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Author Owen Thomas Cunningham wrote on Oct. 18, 2009 @ 21:11 GMT
Dear Evariste,

Sorry to hear about your fatal duel at age 20. Bummer. Kudos on refusing last rites, though.

Thank you for taking the time to read my paper and comment on it. Some of your criticisms seem better structured than others. For instance, I have a hard time understanding why you would make these statements...

"What they mean by digital is not binary but discrete. It's quite unfortunate that being an enthusiast of digital theories you don't make a clear-cut difference between and confuse one with the other in order to present no other but what the better developed digital theories already suggest."

...when the very first page of my paper contains the explicit statement "If the universe really is built on a notion of a digit, it is not automatically a given that that digit must be binary." If you do not accept this sentence as proof of my grasping the distinction between discreteness and binariness, I would like to know why.

I also admit to being surprised that you would imply that I don't understand the sources I cite with "I recommend you first to read the sources you are referring too [sic]." Can you provide some evidence for why you think this friendly advice is warranted? For instance, if you could point out a passage in my paper that indicates failure to understand a basic point made in one of my sources, I would happily withdraw my objection to this criticism.

I find it especially rich that you would impugn my familiarity with computation when you belie a puzzling ignorance of it on your own part with the statement "it is obvious the world is not binary in its representation and operation, otherwise not even full-color pictures would exist." Huh? Perhaps this can be chalked up to the undeniable language barrier afflicting this interaction, but if not, it indicates a startling lack of insight into the science and history of information representation.

In your second post you offer faint praise for my "earth-ground description." I have no idea what you're referring to here; this is not terminology used in my paper.

On balance, I get the impression that you have done the very thing with my paper that you seem to accuse me of having done with the general digital physics literature: skimmed some of it, latched onto a few recognized buzzwords, and used that passing familiarity to construct a vague, lame, inaccurate reaction.

The core conceptual offering of my paper is a graph-theoretic fractal that can both consume and generate space. If you can point me to a reference in the digital physics literature where this has been proposed before, I would appreciate it.

Sincerely,

Owen Cunningham

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Oct. 20, 2009 @ 23:34 GMT
Hello again,

I've a bit of advice, which you are free to ignore. You are more capable of adapting than some of the people who appear 'stuck in a rut' to you. I would not waste time trying to convince RLO or Al about much, as you can keep what you like and set aside the rest. For you; Oldershaw's findings beg an explanation, and that possibility is fascinating. Robert feels that the 'beginningless' aspect of his cosmology is accepted, some questions become meaningless. However; only someone like yourself, who needs to understand why a particular order exists (in the first place), can solve the problem he has avoided or evaded.

Therefore; if there is a congruent answer or answers, they still remain to be found and are unlikely to be discovered by the man who built the model. In Florin M's essay Intro, he states that although we may not understand what it is, there is likely a rigorous mathematical explanation for it. Now; while this shows a bit of the Platonic ideal - in this case the belief that there is an archetypal expression for which real systems are an approximation. But then he is careful to state that in Physics axiomization, we can't go straight down the same road as Plato. And Rob is correct to state that doing so is only a "Glass Bead game."

But Florin is elegant in his description of how to remain always on the realist side of the border with the Platonic ideal. If you read the comments on Florin's page by RLO, it would appear that he does not appreciate how skillfully Florin avoids falling into the Platonist trap. The idea in all of this is that one should not let the chosen emphasis of others prevent you from investigating the parts of the puzzle you find fascinating. If you should find some gems in the work of Rob or Al, utilize them and extend their results and methods if you can. You need not convince them that your way to find the answers about 'why' are viable, just build the model and see what it does.

If somehow you are able to find a unifying principle they have overlooked, because they are empiricists rather than theoretical physicists, you will be able to show the meaning behind their work - which they were not capable to explicate.

All the Best,

Jonathan

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Oct. 20, 2009 @ 23:44 GMT
Oh well,

In the above commentary, I meant to say that Florin spoke about explaining the Standard Model of Particle Physics - stating there was most likely a reason it exists (even if we don't know it). I agree that it has to come from somewhere, and that 'cause' may be connected with certain orderly relations of Math. I think whatever let's us move forward is better than being stuck. Sometimes observation lags theory, and other times it's the reverse. Make progress where you can.

Regards,

Jonathan

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egalois wrote on Oct. 21, 2009 @ 06:12 GMT
Dear Owen,

To reply your kind reply to my original review let me focus on two excerpts from your paper:

The first:

"Simply declaring that the universe must be a computer because everything in it can be represented as bits completely sidesteps the aspect of that notion that would actually be interesting and insightful, i.e. which portions of the universe are code and which are data."

Alan Turing showed there was no such a distinction, you can basically write data as code and code as data as long as you can always build a universal Turing machine. Even though I may think your paper contains some interesting ideas that I haven't followed in every detail, it seems your main point is based on that flawless separation from my point of view.

Second excerpt:

"Traditional CA approaches to digital physics, such as that offered by Stephen Wolfram [2], still fundamentally assume a single clock governing the interactions of each cell — the nth state of a given cell may depend on the n-1th state of its neighbors, but all cells march forward from the n-1th state to the nth state in synchrony."

Wrong, Wolfram's proposal of the digital version of the universe is not based on a CA but on a trivalent network from which he has been able to even derivate General Relativity, hence no single clock governing the whole, yet digital. You seem to ascribe Wolfram to the CA model as everybody else, that's Fredkin main proposal though. Hence the reason I say you should first read careful the ideas you are willing to criticize before being inspired to write an essay with the a title so close to a work of somebody else that you didn't really read.

I might be guilty of not fully understanding yet some parts of your proposal for lack of time, but it is not me who is writing an essay of your essay, but you who has written an essay with a proposal that is close in spirit to others (like the trivalent network one) and unlike you said, has nothing to do with a CA proposal.

Perhaps you could tell us what are the differences and advantages of your graph-theoretic approach compared to Wolfram's graph-theoretic approach instead of saying all Digital physics is about CAs.

Thanks.

Sincerely,

Evariste.

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Author Owen Thomas Cunningham wrote on Oct. 21, 2009 @ 20:10 GMT
Hi Evariste,

Thanks for a thoughtful and substantive reply. I have a better understanding now of why you made the criticisms you did in your original posts, and agree that some of them are warranted.

Although my paper cites Wolfram (once) and is named in homage to his book, I don't want anyone to think that (a) I regard his work as the be-all-end-all of digital physics, or (b) that...

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Florin Moldoveanu wrote on Oct. 24, 2009 @ 13:44 GMT
Dear Owen,

I read your essay, and I am stuck at one point. We know that in general topology has a very big influence on possible solutions of differential equations. My first question is on what grounds are you choosing your computational topology? Suppose on the other hand that you do not arbitrarily pick a topology and you consider all possible kinds of topologies. Then you end up having the same problems as the LQG class of models. How do you obtain the continuous event manifold in your model?

Regards,

Florin Moldoveanu

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Author Owen Thomas Cunningham wrote on Oct. 24, 2009 @ 23:48 GMT
Hi Florin,

I don't have any actual physics training or background, so I don't even understand the question!

Regretfully,

Owen

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Florin Moldoveanu wrote on Oct. 25, 2009 @ 04:59 GMT
Hi Owen,

It is not as hard as it sounds.

Let’s take an empty cube. Make a sound inside the cube. The sound is made out of pressure waves and the waves bounce off the walls of the cube. When the side of the cube is a multiple of the wavelength of the sound waves, you get constructive interference. If not, you get destructive interference. The natural modes of oscillation of sound waves depend on the shape, size, and kind of the resonating cavity. This is why a violin sounds different than a clarinet for example. Now sound waves are described by one kind of differential equations. There are other kinds of evolution equations, and in general the type of “resonating cavity” or equivalently the type of topology, constrains the type of solutions, or even the type of equations which are possible.

Connecting each node only with the nearest neighbor is one kind of topology. Suppose I connect each point not only with the nearest neighbor, but also with three more remote nodes. Because of this shortcut, the overall system behavior can be qualitatively different.

So my first question was: why are you connecting the nodes the way you do in the picture at the bottom of page 2? Suppose I print your picture and roll the paper it in a cylinder, connecting the right edge noses with the left edge nodes. This is another topology. Can you prove that your topology of the picture on page 2 is the most general one in the sense that all other topologies generate the same kind of evolution behavior? If not, you should consider all possible ways to connect your nodes. And here is my question no. 2. When you consider all kinds of topologies, you are effectively doing a loop quantum gravity type of approach where macroscopic space-time is only an average of the microscopic “Plank foam”. But only in very special cases people were able to prove that you obtain the right macroscopic behavior.

Picking the right topology is critical. When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Picking a topology is like picking a hammer, or a garden hose, or a forklift. The conclusions you derive in the end may be only artifacts of the initial topology and this is the reason I was stuck reading your essay because I cannot asses the rest of the paper without a clear understanding of the assumptions.

Regards,

Florin

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Author Owen Thomas Cunningham wrote on Oct. 25, 2009 @ 16:18 GMT
Hi Florin,

That was very helpful, thank you. I think I understand the question a lot better now.

Don't get too hung up on the specific arrangements of edges and vertices in the diagrams... think of those as just sample graph topologies, meant only to illustrate how the recruitment process works.

Computational ontology (C.O.) allows for an axiomization of the graph topology with precisely one initial condition, and precisely two rules for how that topology can change over time. (There is a third, very special rule, that I regard as much more speculative than the first two -- it's described under the "Baryon Asymmetry" bullet in the "Cosmological Evidence" section at the end.)

The initial condition is, there isn't really a graph, or more accurately, there is a graph completely devoid of edges -- there is just a single node/vertex (a single instance of the Object class). Everything in the graph grows and develops out of that one initial node/vertex/Object.

The two rules for topological change are this:

(1) A new node/vertex/Object can be added to the graph. In this case, the new node/vertex/Object has precisely one edge connecting to anything -- and that "anything" to which the edge is connected is always its "parent," i.e. the node/vertex/Object that created it. (Note that there are two possible mechanisms that can result in the creation of a new node/vertex/Object -- copying and coalescence -- but in either case, the newly created node/vertex/Object is initially assigned only a single edge leading back to its parent.)

(2) A node/vertex/Object that has just been recruited by another node/vertex/Object has a mechanism whereby it can introduce a new edge between itself and and another node/vertex/Object which may or may not be the one that just recruited it. This is slightly more difficult to summarize, but is explained in detail in a passage beginning at the very last paragraph of page 4, and ending with the next section ("These Threads Are Made for Walkin'").

Please let me know if, despite your best efforts, I have still misunderstood your question. And thanks for your patience in dealing with my gaps in education.

- Owen

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Florin Moldoveanu wrote on Oct. 26, 2009 @ 03:48 GMT
Hi Owen,

Thank you for your answers. You did understand my questions, but I am not sure I fully agree with your answers. If I understand correctly, your topology is evolving in time. In this case there are two things to discuss. First, in nature, topology tends not to change, and a lot of modern physics is about the so-called topological invariants. (This is the part were I do not agree).

But there is an exception to every rule. You may want to read the works of Sorkin and Bombelli. (Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causal_sets ) Their approach works to some degree and resonates with your ideas. It would be interesting to see a direct comparison between your essay and their work. In particular it would be interesting to see if your essay contains usable insights to help the causal set theory overcome its obstacles. Since I am not a causal set expert myself, I really cannot comment on it in a useful way, but you may want to try to contact people working in this area and solicit their feedback. As an advice from my experience, contacting people cold in physics is almost never successful, you need to find some common acquaintance first to get introduced, or your emails will remain unanswered.

Florin

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Owen Cunningham wrote on Oct. 27, 2009 @ 17:13 GMT
Hi Florin,

I'm posting a copy of this message in both your and my forum.

I have read and enjoyed your most recent posts and know I owe you a response, but recent personal events have conspired to keep me away from physics for at least another few days. I will reply as soon as I can.

Again, thanks for your time and interest.

- Owen

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Author Owen Thomas Cunningham wrote on Oct. 29, 2009 @ 20:19 GMT
Hi Florin,

I wrote: “That is, just as yours asks 'What behaviors exist in reality that cannot be accounted for using mathematics?' perhaps this heuristic could ask 'What behaviors cannot be accounted for in mathematics that _can_ be accounted for using computation?'

You replied: "I think the answer to this is more or less settled mathematically by the Church-Turing thesis. While...

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Florin Moldoveanu wrote on Oct. 31, 2009 @ 02:13 GMT
Hi Owen,

Sorry for the delay, I was really busy at work and I had to put my FQXi activity on hold for a bit.

“"Are there any behaviors that can be symbolically modeled -- naturally/gracefully manipulated -- using computation, that can only be crudely or partially treated by mathematics?" This is more the perspective on conditional branching, if/then/else statements, that I was trying to highlight.”

I think this goes back to basic logic. In computers the basic electronic gate is NAND and this is related to the existence of the so-called “stroke” or Sheffer function. All basic logic can be obtain from AND and OR and both of those can be obtained from the stroke function. Now there are two kinds of logics. One is propositional logic and here all tautologies are provable, and all provable statements are tautologies. The next level is achieved introducing ANY and EXISTS qualifiers (predicate logic). This is a richer logic because one can introduce models, and results have to be valid across all models. What one can do in computers is to do arithmetic and logic only up to aleph zero. Transfinite induction, continuum models, or the models where the continuum hypothesis is false, are much richer domains where computability and computers have very little to offer.

“This might be a watershed event for computer science, but I predict it would be of surprisingly little consequence in the digital physics community.”

I would agree with that. The same with Gödel’s incompleteness theorem which has very little impact on current mathematical research.

“The other point I'd like to make is best conveyed through a metaphor […]

Do you see where I am heading with this analogy?”

Sorry, but I am lost here and I do not really understand the analogy. I do not really know what epigenetics is and I will not pretend I am an expert by goggling it out. But I understand the point of Darwin’s evolution. This is basically a search in a vast landscape of possibilities for the best fit caused by the environment. The problem of any search is that you can easily get stuck in a local minimum. I know about simulated annealing, quasi-Newton, conjugate gradients search methods as part of my thesis was about them.

I am not sure what “design patterns” are, maybe you can explain them to me and why they are relevant. For me, they look like cookie cutter solutions to common problems, similar with standard problem solving techniques for say differential equations, but I may be wrong.

Regards,

Florin

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