Search FQXi


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

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

Contests Home


Previous Contests

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

Wandering Towards a Goal
How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intention?
December 2, 2016 to March 3, 2017
Contest Partner: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Fund.
read/discusswinners

Trick or Truth: The Mysterious Connection Between Physics and Mathematics
Contest Partners: Nanotronics Imaging, The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, and The John Templeton Foundation
Media Partner: Scientific American

read/discusswinners

How Should Humanity Steer the Future?
January 9, 2014 - August 31, 2014
Contest Partners: Jaan Tallinn, The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, The John Templeton Foundation, and Scientific American
read/discusswinners

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

Questioning the Foundations
Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?
May 24 - August 31, 2012
Contest Partners: The Peter and Patricia Gruber Foundation, SubMeta, and Scientific American
read/discusswinners

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

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

The Nature of Time
August - December 2008
read/discusswinners

Forum Home
Introduction
Terms of Use

Order posts by:
 chronological order
 most recent first

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

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

 RSS feed | RSS help
RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Constantinos Ragazas: on 3/14/11 at 2:20am UTC, wrote Dear Helmut, I agree with your idea that the universe is fundamentally...

Peter Jackson: on 2/25/11 at 19:22pm UTC, wrote Hi Helmut I enjoyed your essay, which I think touched on some profound...

Helmut Hansen: on 1/26/11 at 16:09pm UTC, wrote Hi Tommaso, the idea of bitoms is only a -finger- which should point in an...

Philip Gibbs: on 1/25/11 at 17:11pm UTC, wrote It's pleasing to see an essay that recognises the importance of ur-theory...

Tommaso Bolognesi: on 1/25/11 at 15:58pm UTC, wrote Hi Helmut, I agree with you that some metaphysical reasoning (as well as...

Edwin Klingman: on 1/25/11 at 6:46am UTC, wrote Dear Helmut Hansen, A very sweet little essay. Information is confusing...

Helmut Hansen: on 1/24/11 at 15:37pm UTC, wrote Essay Abstract The well-known physicist John Archibald Wheeler...


RECENT FORUM POSTS

Georgina Woodward: "Perhaps I can word that more clearly. The human observer's self generated..." in Breaking the Universe's...

Georgina Woodward: "The effective reference frame in perceptual judgments of motion direction...." in Breaking the Universe's...

Jonathan Dickau: "Sorry again... I should have read more of the linked attachment before..." in If the world ended...

Jonathan Dickau: "Sorry, Some of these arguments appear vacuous, or depend on hidden..." in If the world ended...

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

Joe Fisher: "Robert Lawrence Kuhn ℅ Closer To Truth November 17, 2018 Ref: Get out..." in Dissolving Quantum...

Zimmer man: "Excellent and useful information, thanks for the list. androdumpper apk..." in Neutrino mysteries,...

Edwin Knox: "The genuine Earth had a genuine VISIBLE surface for many years previously..." in Superhuman: Book Review...


RECENT ARTICLES
click titles to read articles

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

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

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

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

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


FQXi FORUM
November 21, 2018

CATEGORY: Is Reality Digital or Analog? Essay Contest (2010-2011) [back]
TOPIC: Can the Universe Be Completely Digitized? by Helmut Hansen [refresh]
Bookmark and Share
Login or create account to post reply or comment.

Author Helmut Hansen wrote on Jan. 24, 2011 @ 15:37 GMT
Essay Abstract

The well-known physicist John Archibald Wheeler coined the phrase: It from bit. It symbolizes the idea that our physical universe is information-theoretic in origin. According to this idea our universe can be completely digitized. Proponents of digital physics are thus convinced that the very heart of our universe is of discrete nature. In this paper an argument is presented, which shows that our universe is fundamentally of analogous nature

Author Bio

Helmut Hansen is author. He is convinced that metaphysics can be conducted as an exact science like nuclear physics. Out of this conviction have now emerged several books and articles.

Download Essay PDF File

Bookmark and Share



Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Jan. 25, 2011 @ 06:46 GMT
Dear Helmut Hansen,

A very sweet little essay.

Information is confusing many people today. It is lovely in its essence. I first fell in love with it in 1967 with Amnon Katz's "Principles of Statistical Mechanics: The Information Theory Approach".

In another instance, when I told my major adviser about error detecting and correcting codes, he at first did not believe it possible.

Today entanglement, qubits, and holographic ideas have only made the confusion worse. So it is amazing that, in three short pages, you can so nicely argue that the world is not "made of bits".

Bits are not "the thing", they are *about* the thing. Bits depend upon a choice of representation, whereas real things are independent of representation. Korzybski was prescient when he noted in "Science and Sanity" that "the map is not the territory". Many people wish to build territory from maps these days. It's not Science.

Good luck in the contest.

Edwin Eugene Klingman

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Member Tommaso Bolognesi replied on Jan. 25, 2011 @ 15:58 GMT
Hi Helmut,

I agree with you that some metaphysical reasoning (as well as mental experiments), may help in understanding physical reality. But in the case of your essay, which I read with pleasure, I don't see the logic behind your claim that in a universe made of 'physical' bits, of 'bitoms' as you call them, nothing would happen.

You seem to relate this observation to the undeniable fact that, in order to have one bit of information I must be confronted with two equally likely alternatives.

Would this 'digital' universe then become lively, i.e. non crystal-like, just by unbalancing the 50-50 probability split of its 'atoms'? The reason for this (possibly bizarre, but respectful) question is to try and 'force' you to be a little more specific about the picture of a bit-based universe that you criticize. For example, the concept of probability invokes that of trial, experiment, in other words, some event. In a completely frozen universe of 'bitoms', who is testing the probabilistic nature of these atomic elements? Can we assume that they are pure bits (50-50) without anything ever happening to them? Can a bit exist without being read, or transmitted?

By the way, I also believe, with Edwin, that bits are not 'the thing', but they are *about* the thing. I would additionally suggest that, if we insist in using them as a map, the real 'thing' that they represent is also *digital*: it's a causal set -- a discrete spacetime.

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate

Philip Gibbs replied on Jan. 25, 2011 @ 17:11 GMT
It's pleasing to see an essay that recognises the importance of ur-theory in this subject. I mentioned it but only briefly in my essay.

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Helmut Hansen wrote on Jan. 26, 2011 @ 16:09 GMT
Hi Tommaso,

the idea of bitoms is only a -finger- which should point in an easy way that there is an ultimate limiting state in our universe, which can never be reached by any natural process, that is, the state of perfect order. This state is considered of being excluded because perfect order excludes any motion, but our (!) universe is obviously full of motion.

The other...

view entire post


Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Peter Jackson wrote on Feb. 25, 2011 @ 19:22 GMT
Hi Helmut

I enjoyed your essay, which I think touched on some profound points, and was very readable. It is certainly a top scorer for me.

Might you consider that the concept "Information measures form" has an analogy with a shortcoming of our application of the Cartesian system where we abstract to points and lines but forget Einstein's specification that the co-ordinates should be attached to a 'rigid body' or 3D form.

I believe it's Robert S's essay that also particularly identifies the shortcomings of the transformation in not considering at motion. (see my thread under '2020 vision..')

An interesting point re the CMB rest frame is that it's temperature varies with frequency, a slightly tricky concept to grasp! - but perhaps telling us something about the 'form' of the reference frame.

It has also been rather glossed over that the very fact that there is a CMB rest frame is inconsistent with SR's stipulation of no 3rd frame.!

I hope you will be able to read, score and comment on my own essay, which is consistent with yours if probably too brim full of... anyway I believe you may understand the underlying identification of a link with relativity and QM.

Best wishes

Peter

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Constantinos Ragazas wrote on Mar. 14, 2011 @ 02:20 GMT
Dear Helmut,

I agree with your idea that the universe is fundamentally continuous. In my essay, using exclusively continuous processes I mathematically derive Planck's Law for blackbody radiation and show that this Law is actually a mathematical tautology that describes the interaction of energy. I argue that this explains why the experimental blackbody spectrum is indistinguishable from the theoretical.

Furthermore, just recently I posted a mathematical proof of the proposition, “If the speed of light is constant, then light is a wave”.

I hope you find these results interesting and significant to comment and to support my efforts to place these before the panel for review.

All the best,

Constantinos

Bookmark and Share
report post as inappropriate


Login or create account to post reply or comment.

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