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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

John S Minkowski: on 4/26/11 at 23:36pm UTC, wrote Dear Georgina and Peter, Thank you for the kind words. With physicists in...

John Minkowski: on 4/24/11 at 23:44pm UTC, wrote Dear Peter and Georgina, I apologize for not responding earlier. More to...

Peter Jackson: on 2/27/11 at 19:41pm UTC, wrote John I forgot to mention mine is much about refraction/ diffraction. But...

Peter Jackson: on 2/27/11 at 19:24pm UTC, wrote John I think your essay deserves a much higher rating and shall assist. As...

Georgina Parry: on 2/24/11 at 10:23am UTC, wrote Dear John, I wanted to let you know that I have read your essay. It is a...

Vladimir Tamari: on 2/5/11 at 8:21am UTC, wrote ---Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of my father's death. I wish for all of...

John Minkowski: on 2/5/11 at 0:43am UTC, wrote I would like to add one final post to this very interesting and fun...

John Minkowski: on 1/31/11 at 23:52pm UTC, wrote Dear VT, I have visited your web site, and all the fonts displayed are...


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FQXi FORUM
October 23, 2019

CATEGORY: Is Reality Digital or Analog? Essay Contest (2010-2011) [back]
TOPIC: Is Reality Digital or Analog? by John S Minkowski [refresh]
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Author John S Minkowski wrote on Jan. 26, 2011 @ 10:39 GMT
Essay Abstract

Past representations of Reality have been at best approximations. To think our age has the final answer is yet another vanity.

Author Bio

John S. Minkowski, M.D. is an ophthalmologist practicing in Baltimore, Maryland. There are Harvard chairs in the examination room. Therefore, everyday, Dr. Minkowski makes patients tear while they view the 'veritas."

Download Essay PDF File

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Vladimir Tamari wrote on Jan. 27, 2011 @ 09:02 GMT
I enjoyed your reference to Seurat's pointilism. To expand on the point (pun intended) his paintings viewed myopically would appear to us continuous and not digital. A good model of how the quantum world appears in macroscopic experiments.

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Author John S Minkowski replied on Jan. 27, 2011 @ 09:46 GMT
Vladimir, I wish I had this name. Thanks for getting the point! But to be slightly more precise, as seems typical for these essays, "viewed with myopic under-correction would appear to us ..."

'Myopically' has a slightly pejorative context in the U.S.A because it is usually reserved for the political class.

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Vladimir Tamari wrote on Jan. 28, 2011 @ 09:13 GMT
Dr. Minkowski, well, as to names Minkowski (all four dimensions inclusive) is quite distinctive. I am sure forum readers would like to hear more of your personal memories of Jan, the student of Pauli... and of Hermann Minkowski? Yes Myopia is bad enough but better than blindness, alas too common in politics as well as in physics.

Incidentally, do you as an opthalmologist ever use the pinhole test? I read that if vision improves when looking through a pinhole it means glasses of some sort are indicated. My streamline diffraction theory interprets that (following Dr. Thomas Young) as an example of gravitational 'refraction' of the light at the edges.

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Author John S Minkowski wrote on Jan. 28, 2011 @ 22:19 GMT
Dear VT,

Jan M. was my father and faculty at Johns Hopkins in Elec. Eng. - specialty in quantum optics - for which there is now a named lecture. Hermann Minkowski's grandfather is a common relative to all of us. Hermann's brother was Oscar Minkowski who with Von Mering discovered that the pancreas was the source of insulin, but the Noble prize went to Banting and Best who identified the Islets of Langerhans in the pancreas (based on the previous discovery).

I was most pleased to be able to corroborate "It's not even wrong" from my father's memoirs and to learn that he was there when Pauli and Peierls had their oft-quoted verbal skirmish.

As a young person, I was most distressed to learn from my father that the speed of light in a vacuum was a constant, and to this day I believe that this notion will be modified, even if not falsifiable. Falsifiability was a major construct in our household. It would be a massive understatement to say that Pauli influenced our family, then and still now. The quote regarding education and our ideas of 'veritas' follow directly from the Pauli point of view. (By the way, I was making another little joke when I tried to make your point more precisely.)

Now on to myopia and pinholes - subjects closer to my own area of 'advanced' education. First, myopia (nearsightedness) is not bad, unless of the degenerative form. Teleologically, it makes perfect sense to have a broad range of nearsighted and farsighted individuals for a species dependent on social structure to survive in the early tool-forming ages. War machines, cars, road signs, and TV's arrived much later.

The explanation for the pinhole test of acuity function is that only those "rays" closest to parallel are allowed to pass through the aperture, thereby obviating the need for refraction, but at the same time reducing illumination. This is exactly like the aperture/illumination problem in cameras. So to be mathematical, a point size aperture would have infinite depth of focus but unfortunately - zero illumination (and likely infinite diffraction)-(perhaps a singularity of some sort). Practically, however, the dual (or more) nature of light starts to interfere when the pinhole size approaches one millimeter (diffraction), and so the pinhole test device often has multiple one millimeter apertures. The latter improves the illumination problem because even if the optics of the entrance aperture (pupil) are non-homogeneous overall, they are often locally more so. And so the pinhole test is used to bypass first, second, and third order aberrations in refraction so as to determine whether the sensory aspect of the eye has the potential to resolve finer detail under more ideal or homogeneous circumstances. If so, sometimes glasses alone are sufficient to achieve such potential.

Now it is possible to create an aerial (or virtual) aperture of much smaller size without the illumination or diffraction problem:

J.S. Minkowski, M. Palese, and D.L. Guyton, Potential Acuity Meter using a Minute Aerial Pinhole Aperture, Ophthalmology 90 (1983), pp. 1360–1368.

This method was independently described and forgotten in 1973:

C.R. Cavonius and R. Hilz, A Technique for Testing Visual Function in the Presence of Opacities, Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, (December 1973), 12:933-936.

As for gravitational 'refraction', I will defer to your expertise and hope for you that your theory is falsifiable but not falsified.

Finally, I would offer the following non-falsifiable cosmology: Our UNIVERSE is like the ocean SURFACE over a riptide or a BRIDGE in a harmonious cross wind: each with an observer invisible nearly perpendicular force amplifying the reciprocations - the latter occasionally out of control. You can call it dark energy coming from within, or you can admit that is not detectable and coming from without. And I am in no way suggesting devine intervention.

And_so keeping the DOUBLE-SPACE to a minimum (I think my best pun_so far).

And alliterating: pun_so, puns are, porno, Ponzi - And_so Back to Reality.

Thanks for the set-up and signing off.

John S. Minkowski, M.D.

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Author John S Minkowski replied on Jan. 29, 2011 @ 00:13 GMT
PS. My original post only had seven Double-Spaces instead of the 14+ that you see. Maybe the riptide crosswind dark energy is responsible for the expansion. (Pun czar intended)

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Vladimir Tamari wrote on Jan. 29, 2011 @ 15:29 GMT
Dear Dr. J.S. I wrote out a nice long reply but the website ate it up and its gone. In it I said I enjoyed your guiding missive. Also asked who the victim was of Pauli's pungent phrase. Perhaps you can kindly scan and send me by email your papers on vision through a pinhole, and we can continue our interesting conversation there, sparing other readers our punishing puns. This 1985 paper contains my reference to the pinhole in section 6.2.

My original "Beautiful Universe" paper explains why I agree with you that the speed of light in vacuum is a maximum c but slower in stronger gravitational fields. If not falsified, this idea will mean that the true maximum speed of light away from the Sun and Earth's gravity would be slightly less than c. This idea is testable and the Pioneer anomalies might be explained that way?

The naval illustration of your cosmology is nice and one wants to hear more explained more systematically. Cheers and good luck. V.T.

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Author John S Minkowski replied on Jan. 31, 2011 @ 23:52 GMT
Dear VT,

I have visited your web site, and all the fonts displayed are fantastic. (I encourage others to do the same.) It made me wonder whether the projected 3D representations we are toying with in film just now will facilitate more progress in understanding our universe. Till today, the vast majority of symbols and diagrams in math and physics have been in two dimensions due to the obvious limitations of printing on a plane or display. Soon 3D will supercede these constraints, and visual intuitives will be able to compete with the high IQ symbolists. And finally - Spacial IQ will at last be testable outside of packing the car for vacation. (Could be a few punzo's in there:))

Best regards, John M.

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Author John S Minkowski replied on Feb. 5, 2011 @ 00:43 GMT
I would like to add one final post to this very interesting and fun contest. I have met very interesting and thoughtful persons, such as Tamari, Blumschein, Wagner, and others who have shared their speculations. I know from experience that my father, Jan M. Minkowski, as mentioned above and referenced in my essay, was terrified of a sign error or trivial mistake which might make the whole thing wrong, and so he never finished his own work of decades - one in which he claimed one could derive one of the four fundamental constants from the other three based on information theory. Ultimately, he became interested in quantum optics, and today there is a lecture in his name at Johns Hopkins, at which most of the luminaries have addressed the paradox of split photon pairs. Even as a lay person, I can tell that H. Uncertainty is a rather trivial observation in these experiments, but more interesting to me is that Einstein's Simultaneity is inconsistent with the results, at least so far as I know this minute. If simultaneity is wrong, then c is wrong, space is a point, or split photon pairs are not discrete, or something else smart people can discern.

Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of my father's death. I wish for all of the real scientists and mathematicians participating that you will not be afraid to be "not even wrong".

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Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on Feb. 5, 2011 @ 08:21 GMT
---Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of my father's death. I wish for all of the real scientists and mathematicians participating that you will not be afraid to be "not even wrong"----

Dear Dr. Minkowski may your father rest in peace. His research on the split photon sounds like the questions raised by EPR and Bell's Theorem. Perhaps you should publish his research the plus sign issue notwithstanding, and get reader's reactions.

My own take on this, to quote my earlier Beautiful Universe paper, is that "What should have been questioned in the EPR paper instead was the (QM) notion that an electron's spin (or a photon's polarization) direction is inherently random in all possible circumstances". I think that the randomness only occurs in the sensing stage of the two electrons or photons. They are entangled because they are identical. I may well be "not even wrong" or alas just plain wrong.

Indeed it has been a great pleasure to meet in these forums you and other very interesting people focused on physics. Vladimir

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Georgina Parry wrote on Feb. 24, 2011 @ 10:23 GMT
Dear John,

I wanted to let you know that I have read your essay. It is a clever piece of writing. Very original and unlike any others I have read in this contest. Your abstract sums it up well. There are quite a few entrants, and undoubtedly many more who have not entered the contest, who will agree with that statement.

Regards Georgina

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Peter Jackson wrote on Feb. 27, 2011 @ 19:24 GMT
John

I think your essay deserves a much higher rating and shall assist. As a half physicist I agree physicists are an arrogant bunch, (yet as my other half is an Architect, and they can be arrogant too! - but seem more aware of the danger).

That now gives me problems as in a kind of cross breeding experiment (in terms of thinking methodology) I stumbled on something that looks horribly like a final answer, which I'm unable to find the problem with! Do please look over my own essay and tell me, as all the physicists here seem to refuse to look or comment!

(I believe I may quote your great great great grandfather somewhere in it!?)

Thanks in anticipation, and very best wishes

Peter

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Peter Jackson wrote on Feb. 27, 2011 @ 19:41 GMT
John

I forgot to mention mine is much about refraction/ diffraction.

But Hmm.. A top mark but you didn't seem to budge! I think you need a 'public' rating too..

Peter

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John Minkowski wrote on Apr. 24, 2011 @ 23:44 GMT
Dear Peter and Georgina, I apologize for not responding earlier. More to follow and Happy Easter. John M.

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John S Minkowski wrote on Apr. 26, 2011 @ 23:36 GMT
Dear Georgina and Peter, Thank you for the kind words. With physicists in the family, as a child, I was always perturbed by their satisfaction with the endgame reductio to the reproducible. At some point, physics moved from experienced experiments to those requiring detectors and recorders. Uncertainty followed. The issue with recorded representations of reality - either digital or analog - is necessarily connected to the recording of such experiments. Sadly, the representation is confused with the reality, and we end up with essay forums like this one. Consider the following: "The speed of light in a vacuum is a constant." I would challenge anyone to corroborate this statement experientially (in the present), much less define any of the terms. Considering the huge Ptolemaic mess that physics/cosmology has made of our universe since Hubble, my intuition is that we're all not even close or wrong. Alas, Peter, I hope you do have a final answer, and I will try to understand, but you should know that I'm also looking for the Reimann unconstant which will generate the primes and also correct the Hubble expansions so that they are linear - since we all know that pure math generated the universes :);)

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