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Current Essay Contest


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Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability Essay Contest
December 24, 2019 - April 24, 2020
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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
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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

amrit: on 10/19/09 at 10:55am UTC, wrote Dear Milan You wrote: Precise cartography of this huge Archipelago will...

Milan M. Cirkovic: on 10/13/09 at 10:00am UTC, wrote Dear Abhijnan, Lawrence, and Srdja, Great thanks for your interest and...

Florin Moldoveanu: on 10/11/09 at 19:07pm UTC, wrote Dear Srdja, You seem to present here only half the story. While Milan’s...

NN: on 10/11/09 at 3:52am UTC, wrote Dear Milan, i tried making efforts to understand the gist of your essay....

Srdja Jankovic: on 10/8/09 at 8:49am UTC, wrote This essay displays a rare quality of blending clarity of scientific...

Florin Moldoveanu: on 10/5/09 at 16:19pm UTC, wrote I have found the recent public voting dynamics extremely interesting.

Lawrence B. Crowell: on 10/2/09 at 0:09am UTC, wrote I found your essay to be interesting. You might want to look at my essay ...

Abhijnan Rej: on 10/1/09 at 13:40pm UTC, wrote Quite interesting essay. I loved the bit about Lem!


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FQXi FORUM
September 25, 2021

CATEGORY: What's Ultimately Possible in Physics? Essay Contest (2009) [back]
TOPIC: Star Maker: Reshaping the Archipelago of Habitability by Milan M Cirkovic [refresh]
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Author Milan M Cirkovic wrote on Sep. 30, 2009 @ 14:15 GMT
Essay Abstract

The question of the ultimate limits of physics can be construed in two different, but closely related, senses: as (1) What is ultimately knowable in physics? and as (2) What is ultimately doable in our physical environment? I argue that, while we may soon have understood the origin of what is conventionally meant by “physics”—a particular low-energy limit (“vacuum”) of the string theory or any alternative unified field theory—such knowledge needs to be supplemented by a complete understanding of the observation-selection effects. In particular, precise determination of the habitable region in the parameter space will enable us to explain the very origin of physics in naturalistic terms and, thus, circumscribe all possible physics knowledge. Precise cartography of this huge Archipelago will enable the act of ultimate engineering: transcending effective dynamical laws and modifying entire spacetimes for the benefit of self-aware substructures (i.e., observers).

Author Bio

Milan M. Cirkovic obtained PhD in physics from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and currently is a senior researcher at the Astronomical Observatory of Belgrade. His primary research interests are in the fields of astrobiology, astrophysics (in particular baryonic dark matter and physics of galaxies), philosophy of science, and future studies. He co-edited the anthology on Global Catastrophic Risks (Oxford University Press, 2008), wrote two monographs, about 100 research papers, and translated several books, including titles by Richard P. Feynman and Sir Roger Penrose.

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Abhijnan Rej wrote on Oct. 1, 2009 @ 13:40 GMT
Quite interesting essay. I loved the bit about Lem!

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Lawrence B. Crowell wrote on Oct. 2, 2009 @ 00:09 GMT
I found your essay to be interesting. You might want to look at my essay

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

which discusses how the cosmological constant is set by the existence of a quantum critical point or quantum phase transition. This tends to result in an extremization of complexity. There is also Abhijnan Rej's excellent paper:

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

which illustrate computability aspects to this problem. These matters have a direct bearing on your archipelago. I think that Rej's perspective feeds well into what I have been working on, where there exists a statistics over a set of information bits, or quantum bits, and the ordering of these bits is in a quantum phase transition determined by a quantum fluctuation

Lawrence B. Crowell

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Florin Moldoveanu wrote on Oct. 5, 2009 @ 16:19 GMT
I have found the recent public voting dynamics extremely interesting.

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Srdja Jankovic wrote on Oct. 8, 2009 @ 08:49 GMT
This essay displays a rare quality of blending clarity of scientific argument with the refreshing beauty of language of metaphor. It also presents the problem of intelligent life in the broadest possible perspective (one might say a total perspective, since it deals with our whole 'Universe' as a mere special case among countless possibilities, in the best Copernican tradition) and thus establishes an important intelectual framework that will be of great assistance for all who seek further insights, either theoretical or practical, that continue to shape our understanding of Life in the Universe.

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NN wrote on Oct. 11, 2009 @ 03:52 GMT
Dear Milan,

i tried making efforts to understand the gist of your essay. What i find is that one needs to treat our universe not as a single entity but multiverse like. This does throw multi-dimensionality into the picture. What about the relativity theory with its four dimensions, three of space and fourth of time, will it hold and if so how we picture the things in the multiverse! Are quantum fluctuations are producing such effects constantly? Please enlighten me with gist of your theme, thanks.

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Florin Moldoveanu wrote on Oct. 11, 2009 @ 19:07 GMT
Dear Srdja,

You seem to present here only half the story. While Milan’s paper is brilliant, all the other essays are so bad in comparison that they deserved only low public votes, is this not right?

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Milan M. Cirkovic wrote on Oct. 13, 2009 @ 10:00 GMT
Dear Abhijnan, Lawrence, and Srdja,

Great thanks for your interest and kind words! You're quite right, quantum information theory is quite relevant for the problem, esp. in view of "coarse-graining" of cosmological initial conditions.

Dear NN,

The theory of chaotic/eternal inflation does imply constant production rate of new "bubble universes" (though the term is somewhat old-fashioned) out of the Planck energy substratum. That's Linde cosmology. This generates the multiverse, although it still does not tell us much about the effective physical laws in individual universes at low energies (that depends on the energy scaling of the breakdown of primordial grand symmetry). Other issues are presented well in Tegmark's review paper, which I wholeheartedly recommend (it's a good read, too!)...

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amrit wrote on Oct. 19, 2009 @ 10:55 GMT
Dear Milan

You wrote: Precise cartography of this huge Archipelago will enable the act of ultimate engineering: transcending effective dynamical laws and modifying entire spacetimes for the benefit of self-aware substructures (i.e., observers).

My research is on the self-awareness of the observer. Observer and universe belong to the same reality. In direct experience where there is no mind processing universe and observer become one.

Yous Amrit

My essay here is about Awakening of the Observer in Physics.

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