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Is Reality Digital or Analog?
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What's Ultimately Possible in Physics?
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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Cristi Stoica: on 1/28/10 at 21:56pm UTC, wrote Dear Paul, I answered you by email.

Paul N. Butler: on 1/27/10 at 8:15am UTC, wrote Cristinel, On the one hand it is good to hear that you have several...

Cristi Stoica: on 1/26/10 at 21:58pm UTC, wrote Dear Paul, It is good to see you back, and to see that we agree so much,...

Paul N. Butler: on 1/26/10 at 19:10pm UTC, wrote Cristinel, I am not sure where you got the idea that I was implying that...

Cristinel Stoica: on 12/31/09 at 7:39am UTC, wrote Paul, My claim was not that, in order to understand physics, you need to...

Paul N. Butler: on 12/31/09 at 3:22am UTC, wrote Cristinel, I saw your comment, but don’t have time to go over it in...

Cristinel Stoica: on 12/29/09 at 12:26pm UTC, wrote Paul, I wanted to give some examples of fundamental physics, which cannot...

Paul N. Butler: on 12/28/09 at 5:39am UTC, wrote Cristinel, Yes, a large part of what currently would come under the...


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FQXi FORUM
October 19, 2019

CATEGORY: What's Ultimately Possible in Physics? Essay Contest (2009) [back]
TOPIC: What's Ultimately Possible in Physics by Paul N Butler [refresh]
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Author Paul N Butler wrote on Sep. 30, 2009 @ 14:15 GMT
Essay Abstract

It is relatively easy to define what’s ultimately possible in physics. It is much more difficult, however, to determine whether man will ever be able to obtain the knowledge and understanding of and the ability to apply completely what is ultimately possible in physics. This essay will tackle an introduction into some of the hurdles that man will have to overcome both externally in his interactions with the world in which he lives and also those that have to do with the nature of man’s internal physical and mental structure that can hinder his success both individually and in his larger societal constructions.

Author Bio

The study of man in his natural environment has been one of the author’s prime occupations for many years. A new phase of inquiry is now being opened up to study man’s ability to accept, adapt to, and respond in productive ways to unnatural environmental interactions. This essay is a test of man’s ability to recognize, process, accept, and utilize information that is provided in a non standard way and with some elements that are at a level that is beyond his current acceptance threshold, to determine man’s ability to recognize and interact productively beyond his current level.

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Steve Dufourny wrote on Oct. 5, 2009 @ 10:15 GMT
Hello dear Paul,

Happy to see you on the contest .

Personally I prefer don't participate for several reasons .

I read your essay ,we see always your faith and the christianity .

It's so spiritual .Congratulations for your universality .

The conscious is a driving force of the evolution towards harmony ,physical .

We see too a real understanding of the rule of human like a catalyzer of the love ,the truth .

Take care

Steve

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Paul N. Butler wrote on Nov. 26, 2009 @ 07:58 GMT
Cristinel,

Sorry it took so long to get back to you. I have been very busy recently. I will just answer your comment to me after mine at this time so this does not get exceptionally large (well, ok it already is, sorry). I notice that you tried to get away from math, but couldn’t completely do it. I understand that it is hard to change information transfer formats when you get used to...

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Cristinel Stoica wrote on Nov. 26, 2009 @ 10:40 GMT
Dear Paul,

Thanks for your answer. In large, the second paragraph of your comment contains partially what I tried to express in my comments, so I will agree with it. It seems to me that you object only to the way I expressed things, and not to the content.

As for the last phrase of the second paragraph, "The only way that man would know for sure is if somehow he gained a global...

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Paul N. Butler wrote on Nov. 29, 2009 @ 02:19 GMT
Cristinel,

Note: It looks like the subscripts will be removed from the formulas in transmission to FQXI.

You are very perceptive in that we do pretty much agree on many of the concepts that you presented. There are just a few minor details that you presented one of which was that the experimental data set will only increase and not decrease when in fact man’s known acceptable...

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Cristinel Stoica wrote on Nov. 29, 2009 @ 08:06 GMT
Paul,

Let me restate what I tried to show in that comment on Nov. 7, 2009 @ 03:02 GMT. The point was that, even if we don't know a theory fitting all the observable data, such a theory may exist. In that comment, I gave a concrete but oversimplified example, consisting in guessing the formula for a real function. The purpose was not to discuss the universe as a mathematical structure, but...

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Cristinel Stoica wrote on Nov. 29, 2009 @ 08:11 GMT
We can see the theories as algorithms used to compress the experimental data. For example, Newton's equation contains Kepler's laws in a more condensed form, which in turn contain Tycho Brahe's observations in a very compressed form. Viewed like this, it is clear that any nonrandom data can be compressed by some algorithm (the random data in general cannot be compressed more). Science searches in fact compression algorithms for the data. These algorithms contain the rules, and the rules can be used to make predictions. A TOE is nothing but a compression algorithm, which compresses all experimental data.

I think that it is desirable to have theories as compression algorithms which don't use conditional expressions ("if ... then ... else"). Such expressions mean that there are exceptions. If we have good theories for different domains, (e.g. quantum field theory and the standard model, and general relativity), we can combine them by conditional expressions, and we obtain a TOE only if their domains cover all the data (which is not the case at present). But a good TOE will make no use of conditional expressions. In this respect, it is more difficult to find a TOE, although not impossible. In fact, it is always possible to find a compression algorithm which doesn't use conditional expressions, and makes the job of another one which uses such conditional expressions.

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Paul N. Butler wrote on Dec. 1, 2009 @ 23:20 GMT
Cristinel,

Yes a theory that fits all observable data may exist. (It actually does exist if you are considering the global set of all observable data or if you are only considering the true data in a local observable data set). I think we can agree on that. Yes your example was oversimplified (which in essence was all that I was saying). Not a bad beginning guess. Guesses usually need...

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Cristinel Stoica wrote on Dec. 2, 2009 @ 21:28 GMT
Paul,

>> "Yes your example was oversimplified (which in essence was all that I was saying)."

I simplified it to the bare bones, but I kept the essence of my argument (abstraction).



>> "Giovanni is right because the search for anything is based on faith."

Giovanni seems to believe that TOE is based on faith. I said that TOE is based on faith, like...

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Paul N. Butler wrote on Dec. 10, 2009 @ 04:06 GMT
Cristinel,

Good to see that you made the transfer from forum set G to set P. It renews my faith in man’s ability to adapt to change (at least a little, one out of many is not much, but it can make that one more important and shows it is possible).

I am aware that your purpose was to give the generalized concept that a theory of everything exists or at least is possible and that...

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Cristinel Stoica wrote on Dec. 16, 2009 @ 19:31 GMT
Dear Paul,

I am glad to see again how much we agree, but I also like that we have different views at some points, because this gave a reason to the dialogue. I like that you take seriously and thoughtfully the discussions.

Best Regards,

Cristi

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Paul N. Butler wrote on Dec. 20, 2009 @ 05:56 GMT
Cristinel,

I am glad that you see our areas of agreement. What would you say is the greatest area where we have different views and what are yours in that area. It is always good to examine differing views because that is often how we learn new things or at least flesh out new details in our understandings of each other, the world we live in, and its and our purpose. I try to take these things seriously and thoughtfully because discovering those purposes and fulfilling them is what life is all about after all. It is always better to know who you are meant to be and what you are supposed to do to make the world a better place to live in and how to recognize and help those who need help so that they can be the same, than to stumble around in the dark all your life, just being a victim of lack of knowledge and understanding. I trust that this is an area that we agree in.

I look forward to working with you toward the fullness of that understanding if it is according to your will.

Paul

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Cristinel Stoica wrote on Dec. 22, 2009 @ 07:24 GMT
Paul,

> What would you say is the greatest area where we have different views and what are yours in that area.

I cannot think now at important differences, probably because I feel great about the differences between various views. But if I would want to make a suggestion, this would be that fundamental physics can be understood better by understanding the underlying mathematics. Before this step is taken, we may think that mathematics is just the quantitative expression of physics; only after this step is taken can become clear how apparently unrelated pieces of the puzzle fit in harmony.

Cristi

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Paul N. Butler wrote on Dec. 25, 2009 @ 07:03 GMT
Cristinel,

I have seen this concept that reality is founded upon mathematics as though there are underlying math formulas that somehow generate the reality that we observe. If we look at physics as the study of the structure of observed reality with the intent to understand its basic underlying structure and rules of behavior, we find that the most fundamental basic structure that exists...

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Cristinel Stoica wrote on Dec. 25, 2009 @ 09:48 GMT
Paul,

You seem to identify mathematics with numbers, which is a very limited concept of mathematics. In fact, I even warned against this mistake in my small comment. What I said is just that you can understand better some phenomena in physics by understanding some chapters of mathematics. I did not say that everything in the world should be understood by mathematics, and certainly not just by numbers.

Your intuition about the limitations of using numbers to represent coordinates is good. It is no wonder that mathematicians know it, and insist on it. If you read about differential manifolds, you can see that the coordinates are not the fundamental objects, and the true objects used by mathematicians are coordinate-free. And motion is a relation between the position (more generally in phase space or in configuration space) and time. It is mathematics.

Food For thought

To know how a foreign country really is, you have to visit it, and to spend some time there. Then, you are in a good position to discuss with a native about his country. A vacation is a good opportunity to explore new places.

Enjoy your trip.

Cristi

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Paul N. Butler wrote on Dec. 28, 2009 @ 05:39 GMT
Cristinel,

Yes, a large part of what currently would come under the definition of mathematics has to do with the interrelationships or interactions of quantities of or numbers of things with one another. I do realize that there are branches of mathematics that can deal with things on a non-quantitative basis such as much of set theory and path flow structuring, etc. (I like to connect most...

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Cristinel Stoica wrote on Dec. 29, 2009 @ 12:26 GMT
Paul,

I wanted to give some examples of fundamental physics, which cannot be truly understood in a non-mathematical fashion. You may read very good popular books and get the impression that you understood them, but you really understand them when you understand them geometrically. I started to compile a list, and then I realized that the list will be difficult to read, and you will pick up...

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Paul N. Butler wrote on Dec. 31, 2009 @ 03:22 GMT
Cristinel,

I saw your comment, but don’t have time to go over it in detail now, as I am getting ready to go on my trip. It looks like one thing that we have in common is the understanding that math can sometimes make it easier to understand things about the world around us. Why don’t we start by taking a couple of basic concepts and explain what the math shows us about the nature of the world that we live in. Lets say we start with a simple geometry example say the Pythagorean Theorem where you can get the size of the side that is not a part of the 90 degree angle (hypotenuse) by squaring each of the other two sides and adding the 2 results together and then taking the square root of the result. In the next three weeks while I am gone you can think about it and tell me in your next comment all that you can see from the math of it that explains things about the real world and how the world works as an example of how math can be helpful in giving understanding about the real world. We might also try one a little more difficult like E=MC^2 if you have time. When I get back I will give what I see in them also and we can then compare notes and see if we can maybe add to each other’s understanding or maybe you can help me to understand if I am completely wrong on it, etc. I think it would be an interesting first step together and maybe help each of us to get to know the other better.

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Cristinel Stoica wrote on Dec. 31, 2009 @ 07:39 GMT
Paul,

My claim was not that, in order to understand physics, you need to know all mathematics, so there is no reason to start with a math topic and search for applications. What I said is that "fundamental physics can be understood better by understanding the underlying mathematics". If you disagree, and consider this an "extreme position", you can pick a phenomenon in fundamental physics, at your choice, then you explain it without understanding mathematics, and I will try to show you how mathematics can make it clearer.

But perhaps you agree. Or maybe you are not interested in doing this, and that's fine, you can tell me, because I don't want to insist; we can stop our discussion at any time.

Have a nice trip,

Cristi

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Paul N. Butler wrote on Jan. 26, 2010 @ 19:10 GMT
Cristinel,

I am not sure where you got the idea that I was implying that one would have to know all mathematics to understand physics or that I was in some way claiming that you were implying that. If that were the case, no one could understand physics because it is obvious by the existence of currently unexplainable mathematical paradoxes that man’s mathematical skills are still...

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Cristi Stoica wrote on Jan. 26, 2010 @ 21:58 GMT
Dear Paul,

It is good to see you back, and to see that we agree so much, being in the same time different. You have interesting ideas, and it is great to see you working to improve even better your eloquence, by adding more mathematical rigor. I am very busy, being caught in several projects, but I would love to give you some references and quick answers in the areas where I am competent, if you are interested.

Best regards

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Paul N. Butler wrote on Jan. 27, 2010 @ 08:15 GMT
Cristinel,

On the one hand it is good to hear that you have several projects to work on because that means you likely have adequate income, which is good for you in the current state of the local economy. On the other hand, although the initial compatibility test phase would not demand much of your time, the full transfer of basic fourth vector concepts, the time required for the receiver...

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Cristi Stoica replied on Jan. 28, 2010 @ 21:56 GMT
Dear Paul,

I answered you by email.

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