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Current Essay Contest

Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation and Scientific American

Previous Contests

Undecidability, Uncomputability, and Unpredictability Essay Contest
December 24, 2019 - April 24, 2020
Contest Partners: Fetzer Franklin Fund, and The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation

What Is “Fundamental”
October 28, 2017 to January 22, 2018
Sponsored by the Fetzer Franklin Fund and The Peter & Patricia Gruber Foundation

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.

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


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

It From Bit or Bit From It
March 25 - June 28, 2013
Contest Partners: The Gruber Foundation, J. Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American

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

Is Reality Digital or Analog?
November 2010 - February 2011
Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation and Scientific American

What's Ultimately Possible in Physics?
May - October 2009
Contest Partners: Astrid and Bruce McWilliams

The Nature of Time
August - December 2008

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basudeba: on 3/20/11 at 6:18am UTC, wrote Sub: Possibility of manipulation in judging criteria – suggestions for...

James Hoover: on 3/14/11 at 19:48pm UTC, wrote Stefan, You are right. The question is still open like the existence of a...

Constantinos Ragazas: on 3/13/11 at 3:07am UTC, wrote Dear Stephan, Your well written essay reminded me a lot of the many...

Dan Bruiger: on 3/1/11 at 0:14am UTC, wrote Thanks, Stephan I would certainly agree that "there is more structure...

Stefan Weckbach: on 2/28/11 at 22:17pm UTC, wrote Dear Dan, thank you very much for your encouraging words. You raise...

Dan Bruiger: on 2/28/11 at 20:10pm UTC, wrote Hi Stephan, I enjoyed your essay, which I found very stimulating. I...

Thomas McFarlane: on 2/25/11 at 4:29am UTC, wrote Stefan, Thanks for your reply. I'm familiar with Laws of Form. Perhaps you...

Stefan Weckbach: on 2/22/11 at 20:18pm UTC, wrote Dear Jim, thank you too for your patience and for visiting my page. Best...


Foundational Questions Institute, FQXi: "On the latest edition of the FQXi podcast, quantum physicist Nicole Yunger..." in Quantum Steampunk -- FQXi...

Zeeya Merali: "İzzet Sakallı of Eastern Mediterranean University in Northern Cyprus and..." in Fingerprints of...

Balybin Urievich: "As for me, teaching the younger generation is one of the main tasks of..." in The Present State of...

John Cox: "Okay. In Topology, all points on a sphere are vector positions and..." in The Quantum Identity...

Vending Ways: "Vending Ways is a UAE-based leading distributor of Coin Operated Washing..." in MCQST2021 | The universe...

Steve Dufourny: "David Bohm developed a method for comcrete dialogues rather than debates..." in Global Collaboration

Steve Dufourny: "One of the problems is the difficulty to unite and convice. The majority..." in Global Collaboration

Thomas Ray: "Kobi, You write as if information accumulates like physical grains of sand..." in Mathematical Models of...

click titles to read articles

The Math of Consciousness: Q&A with Kobi Kremnitzer
A meditating mathematician is developing a theory of conscious experience to help understand the boundary between the quantum and classical world.

Can We Feel What It’s Like to Be Quantum?
Underground experiments in the heart of the Italian mountains are testing the links between consciousness and collapse theories of quantum physics.

The Thermodynamic Limits of Intelligence: Q&A with David Wolpert
Calculating the energy needed to acquire and compute information could help explain the (in)efficiency of human brains and guide the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence.

Gambling Against the Second Law
Using precision thermometry to make mini heat engines, that might, momentarily, bust through the thermodynamic limit.

Mind and Machine: What Does It Mean to Be Sentient?
Using neural networks to test definitions of 'autonomy.'

May 24, 2022

CATEGORY: Is Reality Digital or Analog? Essay Contest (2010-2011) [back]
TOPIC: The Most Beautiful Experiment of All Times by Stefan Weckbach [refresh]
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Author Stefan Weckbach wrote on Jan. 12, 2011 @ 15:38 GMT
Essay Abstract

In this essay we examine the role of the digital as well as the role of the analog in modern physics. We search for similarities as well as for differences between these two modes of description. By exploring the limits of these modes, we show that they hardly can be considered as the last words about the foundations of reality. Finally we expose an Gedankenexperiment that, if it could indeed be executed in reality, could shed new light onto the question about nature being either digital or analog.

Author Bio

The author's main scientific interests are mathematical undecidability, algorithmic information theory, questions concerning consciousness, human free will and logics. Additionally he is interested in various interpretational questions about quantum mechanics.

Download Essay PDF File

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Jan. 13, 2011 @ 04:42 GMT
Dear Stefan Weckbach,

Good to see you here. In one remark you speculate that a new theory might show "one or both of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics as special cases of limited applicability." I am beginning to believe that General Relativity is of limited applicability in a 'flat' universe, the applicability being focused on black holes and neutron stars. In my essay I show Doug Sweetser's beautiful diagram that illustrates the "choice" of whether to use either the 'potential' of QM or the 'metric' of GR. I also conjecture that gravity is irrotational, although this seems to conflict with the 'weak field' GEM equations of GR. Such a change will have consequences, such as for gravity waves.

You also state that "some physicists believe *not* have any well defined properties until those properties are measured." This is potentially the most important current question in physics, and Brian Whitworth's essay explores the consequences of this. I challenge this in my essay and on Brian's page and my own page. I won't repeat them here, but would welcome your comments on this issue.

Finally I invite you to consider my 'particle plus pilot wave' approach, which differs from Bohm's treatment in that his pilot weave is a 'quantum field' [whatever that is] while mine is a real [gravito-magnetic] field of the type I think deBroglie and Einstein would have preferred.

Thank you for pointing out that if the "elementary particle split itself" to pass through the slits, it always nevertheless has to "reunite with its parts" to form a well defined point at the screen. I believe that you have addressed major questions of physics that must receive our attention. I also appreciate your focus on information and computing, but need more time to digest these.

Good luck in the contest,

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Steve Dufourny replied on Jan. 13, 2011 @ 12:31 GMT
Hi to both of you and to all,

Indeed it's good to see you again on FQXi.

Very interesting essay.congratulations and good luck.


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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Jan. 14, 2011 @ 01:21 GMT
Dear Edwin,

thanks for your positive comment and the evaluation of my essay.

Unfortunately i can't comment on your issues outlined on Brian Whitworth's page, because i don't understand the the precise phyiscal mechanisms with which you want to restore Einstein's locality and physical realism at the same time.

Good luck also in the contest,

Stefan Weckbach

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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Jan. 14, 2011 @ 01:39 GMT
Hi Steve,

hope you are well and thank you for your kind words.

Have you plans to participate too at the current contest?


Stefan Weckbach

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narsep wrote on Jan. 13, 2011 @ 08:52 GMT
Having only a glance to your essay I was trapped by the number 123(124). It is astonishing that I have reached to the same number by an holographic approach (essay programmed for the future) of the Universe. I hope to find the time needed to read your essay in detail and respond appropriately.

best regards

narsep (ioannis hadjidakis)

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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Jan. 14, 2011 @ 01:37 GMT
Dear Narsep,

for further information about the cosmological and holographic information bound of 10123, you should read the following paper of the british physicist Paul Davies:

Besides this, Seth Lloyd has calculated this number by using a different way. His conclusions are exposed very clearly in an article of the german edition of scientific american, 1/2005 (see my references). I am sure that this article also has been published in one of the american editions of the journal. The german title of the article is "Is the cosmos a computer?".

Best Wishes,

Stefan Weckbach

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narsep replied on Jan. 14, 2011 @ 11:57 GMT
Thanks o lot for the complementary information.

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Ray Munroe replied on Jan. 14, 2011 @ 20:18 GMT
Dear Stefan and Narsep,

I have wondered if 10^123 is a geometrical power of Dirac's Large Number ~10^123~(10^41)^3 in 3 spatial dimensions. Either that, or it is "leakage" from a scale of greater complexergy (such as the "Multiverse" scale that I mention in my upcoming continuous vs. discrete essay).

Have Fun!

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Lawrence B. Crowell wrote on Jan. 14, 2011 @ 18:30 GMT
Stefan Weckbach,

I rather enjoyed your article. My article which appeared illustrates some of my work on the equivalency between 3 and 4 qubits entanglements with a black h ole and entanglements with the AdS_7 spacetime. This touches on elements of your paper.

The entanglement entropy for black holes is equal to the determinant of the SLOCC group. For the 3 qubit system system this is a hyperdeterminant, where there are terms for the standard bipartite entanglements as well as for the W and GHZ states. For the 4 qubit case there are coset realizations. The entanglements are holographic, and in what I am working on there should be a correspondence with an entanglement entropy on AdS_7, with cosmological implications with the conformally flat boundary.

The 400 to 500 bits and possible 10^123 entangled bit flips corresponds to the total number of elementary particles, or string modes possible. The E_8xE_8 has 2x248 = 496 particle states. This is remarkably close to this estimate here. The implication is that the universe may only contain one of every type of elementary particle. So the electrons running around the circuit board in my computer, is the same as all the electrons in the entire universe. This holographic projection of fields onto the AdS boundary, or equivalently the cosmological boundary, is a form of Feynman’s original concept of the path integral where a particle in effect covers the entire universe.

Check out Phil Gibb’s paper and mine, which are remarkably parallel.

Cheers LC

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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Feb. 19, 2011 @ 15:47 GMT
Dear Lawrence,

i read your essay and another paper of yours i found in the internet. I am impressed by your broad mathematical skills and your creativity. Unfortunately i cannot comment on your ideas because of my lack of mathematical background. But your results are very interesting, thought-provoking and maybe lead to more insights about holography, entropy and entanglement.



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Lev Goldfarb wrote on Jan. 14, 2011 @ 22:24 GMT
Hi Stefan,

Good to see you participating in the contest!

Regarding the discussion of the nature of particles in Section 4, I just wanted to mention that if instead of "particles" we think in terms of events (followed by other events), things might look less mysterious.

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Ray Munroe replied on Jan. 14, 2011 @ 22:46 GMT
Dear Lev and Stefan,

I think that Stefan and I are close in some ways in the definition of particles. The Multiverse is an infinite Cantor set, our Observable Universe is a self-similar fragment of fractal dust of that Multiverse, and at some scale it is appropriate to consider fundamental particles as self-similar fragments of fractal dust, ad infinitum...

These fractal fragments also have quasiparticle properties that yield Discrete Particle vs. Continuous Wave Duality.

I'm still waiting for my essay blog to go live...

Have Fun!

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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Feb. 19, 2011 @ 15:41 GMT
Dear Ray,

yes, i think the only way to implement "infinity" into our physical descriptions without making ultimate reality an infinitely complex thing would be to consider fractals. They are highly redundant and therefore compressible and describable.

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basudeba wrote on Jan. 19, 2011 @ 09:33 GMT
Dear Sir,

Your paper is quite interesting.

While many predictions of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics have been proved, GR has not been proved in laboratory experiments and there is no unanimity among the various versions of QM.

You say: “infinities could be no more than mathematical idealizations”. Generally, infinity is used in physics as a very big number that has properties like other numbers of the number sequence. This is not correct. Number is a property of substances by which we differentiate between similars. The number sequence arises out of the mechanism of our perception: two is one plus one; three is two plus one etc. Infinity is like one: without similars, but while the dimensions of one are fully perceptible, the dimensions of infinity are not fully perceptible. Hence no mathematics is possible using infinity and renormalization is mathematically void.

The answer to the question posed by you: “if the conceptual use of infinitely changeable quantities, be them size, duration, energy or whatever, does make ontologically sense or only reveals our misunderstanding about the universe” is that change is essential for perception (without a change in the object or the background structure, no perception is possible). The universe is a closed system where every particle interacts with every other particle. Our inability to study the total dynamics leads to our misunderstanding about the universe.

Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle has been a most misunderstood statement. Kindly read our essay on its proper interpretation. Similarly, there are alternative explanations for Young’s double slit experiments and diffraction experiments. Wave and particle represent two different aspects of the same thing, but as waves and particles they are different. Wave represents the field. Particle represents the confined field. The interaction between the particle and the field appears as the force experienced by other bodies in the field. Separately, we have derived all fundamental forces of Nature from a common source. Gravity is the first force that is responsible for structure formation and stabilization. It is a composite force and not a single force. Other forces can be derived from it without GR. Soon we will publish the detailed theory.



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basudeba wrote on Feb. 9, 2011 @ 07:19 GMT
Dear Sir,

We cannot understand why scientists have to resort to weirdness to explain physical phenomena. Confinement and Entanglement are not quantum phenomena alone, but they have macro examples also. Superposition of states arises out of the mechanism of measurement, which has been sensationalized by imputing imaginary characteristics to it.

As we have explained in our essay,...

view entire post

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Alan Lowey wrote on Feb. 10, 2011 @ 14:44 GMT
Hi Stefan, I liked your essay very much in it's simplicity of thought. I agree that the particle/wave duality needs to be resolved in a common sense fashion. I believe that an Archimedes screw analogy does just that. What do you think?

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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Feb. 19, 2011 @ 15:50 GMT
Dear Alan,

can the Archimedes screw analogy explain the behaviour of sinlge "particles" ("waves" or whatever) in a Mach-Zehnder-Interferometer?

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Alan Lowey replied on Feb. 22, 2011 @ 10:18 GMT
I assume it's a similar question to whether it can explain the YDS. In time I think it can. The double-slit experiment requires a modelling of the edge of the slit which is made of metal. This requires an initial modelling of the hydrogen atom, which is essentially a proton with an 'orbitting electron effect'. Until we get a simluation model of the hydrogen molecule, we can't model the more complicated elements or compounds. It's the same with so called fundamental particles, we have to take the precise modelling one step at a time. I hope you can give the spinning helix idea some thought. Imagine if Newton had announced it as the particle which must exert his unseen force of gravity! History would have been totally different. No Einstein talking about a 'fabric' of spacetime hundreds of years later for one! Kind regards, Alan

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James T. Dwyer wrote on Feb. 14, 2011 @ 23:47 GMT

I'm merely an innocent bystander, but I'd like to express few thoughts about Bell theorem tests. BTW, I'm assuming that particle-wave duality is actually an oscillation between states.

I think that the only way that the emission of a single 'particle' can be determined is through the detection of single particles in a test without 'grating'. That a particle state manifestation is emitted rather than a wave state manifestation is undetermined.

I suggest that even in quantum Bell test experiments that emitted low mass elements are propagated only in their wave states and are manifested in their particle states only on detection.

Moreover, when a 'grating' device is used to split the element, it can only be of such separation distance that a wave portion can pass through all the grating openings. I assert that's because it is a wave being split into (two) independently directed wave fronts, still representing a singular wave. Each wave front can be independently detected as a quantum particle, both still representing the original singular wave.

Thanks for your consideration,


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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Feb. 19, 2011 @ 15:38 GMT
Dear Jim,

you wrote

"Each wave front can be independently detected as a quantum particle, both still representing the original singular wave."

I think this can easily excluded via experiment. If an original singular wavefront splits and the new wavefronts could be independently detected as a quantum particle, there should be multiple detector clicks for a single emitted particle (and additionally multiple portions of the original particle's energy would be detected).

I have discussed this issues a while ago in the following fqxi-blog: (starts by John Merryman wrote on Apr. 19, 2010 @ 16:49 GMT).

I think this thread could answer your questions more rapidly than i could do it here.



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Anonymous replied on Feb. 19, 2011 @ 22:19 GMT

Sorry I haven't explained clearly - I suggest that each partition of a single light wave, even of quantum emission energy, contains the identical information of original emission. There is no "new" wavefront, only independently directed wavefront extensions of the original wave 'extruded' from the grating.

If multiple particle detections are produced, by physical partitioning and extension, from a single wave emission, they should all exhibit identical characteristics without any 'spooky action'.

Speaking of spooky actions, did you intentionally refer me to the following blog entry for clarification?

"The physics sounds exciting, but the philosophy is wretched. The difference between Buddhism and monotheism is the difference between unity and unit. One is a state of connectedness and the other is a set. Multiverses are not about unity, or connectedness, they are just more sets!!!!!"

There is no need to respond further unless you intended a different blog entry.


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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Feb. 20, 2011 @ 07:48 GMT
Dear Jim,

no i intended you to read Constantin Ragazas proposal to explain the double-slit experiment and my discussion of this proposal with him. The whole discussion starts under the entry of John Merryman. (you must click "show all replies (95 not shown)" to have access to my comments there.

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Thomas J. McFarlane wrote on Feb. 19, 2011 @ 07:00 GMT
Dear Stefan,

I enjoyed your interesting essay. One passage of particular interest was your consideration that "Fourthly, we could reason that there must be somewhat a metaphysical realm that is able to transcendent both possibilities, the digital and the analog. The latter option seems to be the most promising." This option is quite similar to the conclusion of my essay which may interest you. Both of our essays also touch on the question of the denumerability or non-denumerability of quantities in physical theories and measurements.



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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Feb. 19, 2011 @ 15:17 GMT
Dear Tom,

i read your essay and enjoyed it very much. Very clearly and consequently argued lines of reasoning.

"Insofar as the distinctions we use to describe order are free imaginative constructs, they are not so much properties inherent in reality itself, but the basic elements that make it possible to characterize and describe a cosmos at all. We may then redefine objectivity in purely mathematical terms, without any implication of an independently existing substance."

Yes, that's my line of thinking too. George Spencer-Brown has outlined the universal basement of distinctions in his famous book "laws of form".

All physical processes, be them human beings or just physical facts, must obey these laws of distinction as long as they are coupled to "duality". A fact is a provable distinction, means a 1 bit decision. If one cannot decide a thing, there's no information and hence there are no "facts".

There may be a metaphysical realm where the duality of mutually exclusive alternatives is transcental, and i thing QM is a hint in that direction.

"Because the cosmos is discrete, this suggests that its complement is a continuum—not the mathematical continuum which has definite structure, but an indefinite continuum, a formless void (i.e., the original meaning of the Greek word chaos) that lacks any order and is thus beyond comprehension in terms of concepts or distinction."

Yes again. One can think about "infinity" as "undefined" - it has no borders that could make a distinction. Hence it is "un-definite", "undefined".

My standpoint is that maths can never capture the whole ultimate reality. denumerability and non-denumerability are concepts intimately related to determinism. But no exclusively mathematical and therefore deterministic proof can prove the exclusiveness of determinism/mathematics. This does not necessarily mean that ultimate reality couldn't be exclusively deterministic/mathematic, but i strongly think that it underlines that mathematics is limited for the same reasons why distinctions are possible in this world: namely because limits are the operational basement to produce facts and hence information.

Thanks for visiting my site,

all the best


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Thomas J. McFarlane replied on Feb. 25, 2011 @ 04:29 GMT

Thanks for your reply. I'm familiar with Laws of Form. Perhaps you know of the related work by Lou Kauffman.



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Neil Bates wrote on Feb. 22, 2011 @ 02:22 GMT
Stefan, I think it fascinating that you come up with an experimental situation, the outcome of which depends on the theoretical computing power of the universe in term of effectively available bits. You may have heard that an open universe implies infinite extent of space, and it seems you refer to the particles and combinations withing the observable horizon of several billion light years. I'm not sure that the number of bits that *could* be used for such a computation means that's what would actually be done in the universe. Are those particles really used, and would our doing an experiment right now actually mesh with the potential capability of all those entities in principle? I think most QI specialists think of the computing being done by dimensions and the associated bit power of the entities actually taking part in the interaction. However, your proposal is creative and merits further inquiry. If the universe does partake of a universal wave function, the logical properties of that could well condition the scope of specific events and projects within that larger universe.

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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Feb. 22, 2011 @ 09:24 GMT
Dear Neil,

as you surely know, some interpretations of QM take an analog and deterministically evolving wave function as a fact. For example DI or MWI. I pondered about wether those views are really a fact or not.

To "answer" the contest's question more definitely, one has to provide an experimentum crucis that could differenciate between a strictly analog model of reality and other (non-strictly) models. This task seems to be somewhat a variation of the halting problem, because if you can measure some values to - say - the 70 billionth decimal place, that's in no way a proof that nature acts in an infinitely precise manner or not. Even if the next 50 million decimal places are only zeros, you have no garantuee that after that there will again exlusively only follow further zeros and no other numbers.

If we define "information" as something that made a factual distinction in the past (due to measurement-outcomes or mere interactions of particles), then at least within our observable horizon of the universe there should have been produced only a finite amount of information - resulting in our present configuration of the observable horizon. Though "observable" means "factual", we cannot exclude the possibility that unobserved, "counterfactual" information is preserved via an analog and deterministically evolving wave function, be it as many worlds or as other unobservable dimensions.

If the holographic principle is valid, the total information content of a region of space is finite. For our observable universe, this amount of information - due to the holographic principle and the calculations of Seth Lloyd and others - cannot exceed about 10123 factual information units (bits). So, if nature would be able to outdistance this number by a quantum computer's operation that leads to a factual, verifiable output (in my experiment via the factorization of large numbers into their prime components), this would indicate - at least - that the underlying wave function does operate in a counterfactual realm, a realm that cannot be associated with ordinary space and time.

But if nature wouldn't be able to outdistance the 10123 factual bit-flips, this would be - in my opinion - a strong hint for reconsidering a strictly analog and deterministic view of QM.

"Are those particles really used, and would our doing an experiment right now actually mesh with the potential capability of all those entities in principle?"

I really don't know if those particles would be really used in such an experiment, but if the claims of the finite information bound (or let's say, the finite computational capability) of our observable universe is valid (independent of how the universe computes or is interconnected in detail), there should indeed occur a breakdown of the "wave function" at some critical point of my proposed experiment.

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Dan J. Bruiger wrote on Feb. 28, 2011 @ 20:10 GMT
Hi Stephan,

I enjoyed your essay, which I found very stimulating. I appreciated also the reference to Paul Davies’ paper, about which I have some comments that you might find interesting, since it is closely related to the issues you are dealing with.

Key questions seem to be: How many ‘bits’ of information are there in the universe? And: Shall we interpret ‘information’ ontologically or epistemologically? It strikes me that, either way, information—if it is to be about something—must correspond to physical structure. Is there, then, a limit to how much structure (detail) can actually exist in the universe? Or is the limit simply on what we can know of this structure? I think these are very different questions, but easily confused.

Davies—like many others these days—proposes to explore the idea of information as fundamental, as occupying the “ontological basement”. He contrasts this (ironically, I think) with a view that he characterizes as Platonist. But it strikes me that viewing information as ontologically fundamental is basically an idealist (if not outright Platonist) concept—unless we stick to the view of information as structure. But then, I am not sure on what basis it can be argued that reality has a finite structure. He attempts to do this on the basis of information as dealt with in the Bekenstein bound, and parallel arguments. But this is effectively information in an epistemological sense, which he, like others, assumes can be identified with information in an ontological sense. That seems to be an error. There may be ultimate structural limits; and there may be a correspondence between these and limits of what can be known. But neither should be assumed.

Yours sincerely, with best wishes,


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Author Stefan Weckbach replied on Feb. 28, 2011 @ 22:17 GMT
Dear Dan,

thank you very much for your encouraging words.

You raise important questions and i'll try to adress them:

The platonist's view, at least as i understand it, is that all the abstract information is ontologically present in a platonic realm. It exists without references to time or space, it was, is and will be forever - unchanged. It is static.

The notion of information in the sense i use it, is, that information is not the same as structure. Information-processing (i rather name it "measurement-processes") leads to structure, in this sense information corresponds to that structure only once the structure is actually realized in the physical realm, but the information itself is neither a one-to-one translation of informational structures into physical structures nor is the information fixed in a platonic realm. The real context of that information could probably lie far outside our physical universe. We should not overlook that informational realms could be realms as real as your impression to see the colour "blue" - nonetheless without any information about how that qualia can be interpreted in physical terms(the precise emotional impression of seing blue, feeling it and knowing that it's absolutely real without being able to explain "what" is it that makes it so real - real as the impression "blue", not the underlying physical processes emitted by "blue" material).

My main concern in writing the essay was to offer at least a theoretically feasible way to discriminate between a strictly analog and deterministic evolution of the universe ("wave function") and the possibility that information only comes in finite units into our world (from where however). If a quantum computer could solve some tasks a classical computer could never do (due to a time- or energy-consuming cosmological limit), then we could reason that there is more structure beyond the classical world than the "digital computer"-picture assumed.

Yours sincerely,


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Dan J. Bruiger wrote on Mar. 1, 2011 @ 00:14 GMT
Thanks, Stephan

I would certainly agree that "there is more structure beyond the classical world than the 'digital computer'-picture assumed." I don't believe, however, that Platonic "informational realms" are required for there to exist human perception (the contents of consciousness). I do believe that physical structure is required. But this is probably not the main thrust of either of our intentions, and not something to debate.


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Constantinos Ragazas wrote on Mar. 13, 2011 @ 03:07 GMT
Dear Stephan,

Your well written essay reminded me a lot of the many exchanges we had last summer over just this 'most beautiful experiment'! I couldn't let this opportunity go by without wishing you success with it.

Though our earlier exchanges dealt exclusively with my explanation of the double-slit experiment, my essay summarizes many other derivations that collectively can give you a much better idea of the coherent whole. You will find in this a consistent simple formulation of much of basic physics.

Fundamental to this is my mathematical derivation of Planck's Law showing that it is a mathematical tautology that describes the interaction of measurement. It says that if we know the amount of energy absorbed at a given temperature, then Planck's Formula determines the energy intensity. This I argue explains why the experimental blackbody spectrum is indistinguishable from that of Planck's Law.

Interestingly, and more to the point of our previous discussion, and of your essay, just yesterday I posted a result that I believe you will find very relevant to that discussion, and more. The mystery of the double-slit experiment is accounting for the corpuscular nature of light (photons). The “photon hypothesis” is Einstein's major accomplishment. The other of course being his Constant Speed of Light hypothesis that is the basis of SR.

I think the title of the paper I posted just yesterday will explain why this is so relevant to my explanation of the double-slit. If you recall, I had listed three principles that I claim explain the double-slit experiment:

1)Light propagates continuously as a wave, but interacts discretely

2)Before 'manifestation of energy' there is 'accumulation of energy'

3)The “photon” emitted is not the same as the “photon” detected

Now the drum rolls and the title of my paper that says it all …

“If the speed of light is constant, then light is a wave”

This I demonstrate with a very simple and elegant mathematical proof. Thus, Einstein's CSL contradicts the Photon Hypothesis!

I look forward to your comments. Best wishes for a successful contest …


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James Lee Hoover wrote on Mar. 14, 2011 @ 19:48 GMT

You are right. The question is still open like the existence of a Supreme Being. But my bet is on analogue with some evidence from models and assumptions.

Enjoyed reading your essay, Stefan.


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basudeba wrote on Mar. 20, 2011 @ 06:18 GMT
Sub: Possibility of manipulation in judging criteria – suggestions for improvement.


We had filed a complaint to FQXi and Scienticfic American regarding Possibility of manipulation in judging criteria and giving some suggestions for improvement. Acopy of our letter is enclosed for your kind information.

“We are a non-professional and non-academic entrant to the Essay...

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