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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Eckard Blumschein: on 4/8/11 at 22:33pm UTC, wrote Dear Tom, While you evaded my argument, I will reply in 833. Dear Yuri, ...

Thomas Ray: on 4/8/11 at 14:57pm UTC, wrote Dear Eckard, Please do continue the discussion in your forum. It does not...

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FQXi FORUM
October 18, 2019

CATEGORY: Is Reality Digital or Analog? Essay Contest (2010-2011) [back]
TOPIC: Can We See Reality From Here? by Thomas Howard Ray [refresh]
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Author Thomas Howard Ray wrote on Feb. 9, 2011 @ 10:58 GMT
Essay Abstract

Ask an experimental physicist to describe reality, and she might speak in terms of discrete events—clicks, flashes, particle tracks. Ask the same of a theorist, and he might speak of the continuous phenomena of curves, symmetries, dynamic motion. Pressed hard enough, though, both will likely reach the same conclusion: reality isn’t important to what a scientist does. Why not?

Author Bio

Technical writer-editor by trade. Independent researcher.

Download Essay PDF File

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Eckard Blumschein wrote on Feb. 9, 2011 @ 21:58 GMT
Dear Thomas,

When I had the opportunity to look at your essay for a glimpse, I got a very good impression and decided to store and print it. Unfortunately, my Acrobat Reader told me "file does not begin with %PDF", and I did not yet manage to fix my problem.

So far I can only ask whether the opposite of you abstract is also correct: Ask an experimental physicist, and he will tell you that an exact discrete value of a length is not available by means of measurement. Ask a quantum theorist, and she might be convinced that anything is quantized down to the admittedly purely theoretical, definitely not measurable Planck length. They both will claim dealing with reality.

Hopefully you will not take amiss such humor. I am curious to read your essay.

Regards,

Eckard

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Feb. 9, 2011 @ 23:14 GMT
LOL. There's probably a lot of truth in that, Eckard. Thanks for reading.

Tom

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Feb. 10, 2011 @ 00:17 GMT
Dear Tom,

Having read and responded to some of your critiques I have been impressed that you usually make sense and sound authoritative. So I looked forward to your essay. On first reading I find it interesting, but platitudinal, a pastiche, not the integrated viewpoint that I'd hoped for.

As an erudite critic you cover the spectrum; Verlinde, Hawking, Gell-Mann, Einstein, Quine, Popper, Bohm, t'Hooft, Bohr, Lamport, Davies, etc. The views you espouse, from the people you quoted are reminiscent of the five blind men and the elephant; each is correct in the context of what he touches, but none have seen the elephant.

I am reminded of Feynman's Nobel Lecture, in which he says, "I also had a personal feeling, that since they didn't get a satisfactory answer to the problem I wanted to solve, I don't have to pay a lot of attention to what they did do."

As to specifics, I do appreciate that you bring in consciousness, at least peripherally. At one point you state that "conscious motion is not differentiable, in principle, from random." While, from the objective, even mathematical viewpoint, you are surely correct, from my view of reality,

conscious motion [volition] is by reason of awareness, while

random motion is for no reason at all.

It's a very different universe, depending upon which you choose as basic.

Since we've argued non-locality elsewhere, I won't clog your thread with these arguments. But you end with the observation [or conclusion, I'm not sure which] that

"information, gravity, and time are identical."

Information is not physical, it is descriptive, and contextual, and depends upon a 'framework' for interpretation. Physical reality just 'is' independent of interpretative frameworks. Nor do I find credible or sensible the idea that time = gravity.

I cannot tell whether you are just throwing this out to show how absurd things have become, or whether you are taking this position.

Normally, I look for things to support in others essays, but, visiting Rome, I decided to do as the Roman does.

Best of luck in the contest,

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Feb. 10, 2011 @ 12:13 GMT
Edwin,

So you found it interesting. :-)

I know what you mean. When I decided to focus on a survey of the topic rather than my own research, I knew the references would be many. It's the most foundational topic that FQXi could have fielded, at least that's tractable to scientific method.

The difference between Feynman and me is that I don't worry about what "they" think or do. Oh wait -- that makes us not different at all, doesn't it? Feynman was famous for taking a position orthogonal to his contemporaries, as the Nobel speech reflects. And that's much of the point of the essay, that variable rates of independent actions combine and decohere in a continuous process -- the hub of activity in a complex system is dynamic, shifting. So I regret that you think consciousness is peripheral; in fact, it is integral. Rather than assume that consciousness is a mystical state of "free will," however, I frame consciousness as a process and suggest that process is not differentable from reality. That's not completely off the reservation; look at the essays here on virtual reality, such as Brian Whitworth's which I deemed worthy of citation.

So far as the identity among time, information and gravity -- Jacobson's and Verlinde's research already deems gravity entropic, implying loss of information ('t Hooft's classical determinism in quantum mechanics also implies information loss). If one takes Julian Barbour's view that time is no more than a least action principle, then it's a short step to entropic models of information and gravity at T = 1. Counterintuitive, maybe. Absurd, no.

Edwin, I know we radically differ in our philosophies regarding "physical intuition." I don't think there is such a thing. Most of what we know about the objective world is counterintuitive, a legacy of the Greeks, not the Romans.

Best of luck to you as well.

Tom

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Edwin Eugene Klingman replied on Feb. 10, 2011 @ 20:26 GMT
Tom,

One minor correction -- I do not consider consciousness 'periperal' I consider it central (or integral). My remark was that you treated it peripherally. For a brief perspective on my view of consciousness see Fundamental Physics of Consciousness, my essay in the ultimate physics fqxi contest. The associated comments thread expands upon the essay.

I definitely do not assume a 'mystical state of free will'. In fact my definition of consciousness is awareness plus free will, because both in my experience and in any logical analysis, these two aspects cannot be separated. I'm not sure what you mean by 'process' but if you mean that awareness 'emerges' from properly arranged matter, then I would argue against that. [see my essay]

The key to consciousness (for those who even believe in consciousness) is not to try to figure out how it 'arises' as this will never succeed, but how it interacts with (the rest of) the physical world. I believe that my treatment is the only one to attack this problem seriously. I expand upon this treatment in Gene Man's World.

You mention Brian Whitworth's VR essay. I discuss that on his thread, so won't clog your thread with those arguments (unless you have some point you wish to discuss here.)

Also, with respect to Verlinde's approach to gravity, I have discussed that briefly here at Jan. 30, 2011 @ 00:41 GMT.

As for time=information=gravity; because one can equate symbols that one assigns to map the physical world, and because the simplest definitions may even allow one to 'equate' A to B and then B to C symbolically, does not mean that physical A = physical C. [It may be true, but simplistic symbolic definitions do not guarantee it.]

In my view 'consciousness' is part of reality, and 'information' is about reality.

So, we are interested in the same things, and are tracking them on others threads. Unless you wish to discuss specific issues, I'll just keep on working on the relevant threads, and see you there.

Best regards,

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Author Thomas Howard Ray wrote on Feb. 10, 2011 @ 21:03 GMT
And my point was that i did NOT treat consciousness as peripheral.

If you want to say conscioiusness requires free will, that's your prerogative. It demonstrably does not, however.

I realize that you're selling, Edwin, but I'm not buying.

Tom

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Edwin Eugene Klingman replied on Feb. 10, 2011 @ 21:25 GMT
Tom,

I'm not sure if you are a Darwinian, or what, but if so, you might ask what good awareness of danger [or food, etc] is without the ability to freely respond to it, and conversely, what good free will would be without awareness. I see no survival value in either case.

But you may have some entirely other view of 'consciousness'.

I think we've already both rung up 'no sales'.

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Feb. 10, 2011 @ 23:04 GMT
I explained that, under the assumption that decisions are rational (survival based).

Tom

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Dan T Benedict wrote on Feb. 11, 2011 @ 16:48 GMT
Tom,

Wow! I didn't think it was possible, but your essay has cured my insomnia.

I'm joking of course. I good friend used the same remark in regards to my own essay and I thought it much too good to not use. Au contraire, I found your writing to be very interesting and much different than what I had expected. You chose a much different path from the majority of those of which I have read. By not putting forth a perhaps an unwinnable argument or using the shoehorn approach, due to the breadth of the topic, as most of the rest of us have, your essay, along with perhaps that of Professor Jarmo Mäkelä are unique enough to stand out from the crowd. Not an easy accomplishment, with so many talented and not so talented people vying for the same recognition. I commend you on taking a topic that is both broad and deep and producing a result that is very much the same.

Best regards as always,

Dan

P.S. I especially enjoyed your technical endnote "Mach's Principle & the relativistic theory of the non-symmetric field", another reference to Mach's mechanics of which you are already aware that I am still learning the intricacies.

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Feb. 11, 2011 @ 17:11 GMT
Hi Dan,

Thanks for reading, conscioous or not. Will it play in Peoria? :-)

I was torn between writing a technical paper, which if I am to be honest I more enjoy doing, and trying to survey the subject in order to show how subtle the question is. I hadn't imagined (to echo Einstein) how malicious subtlety can actually be. We live, we learn.

Tom

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Dan T Benedict replied on Feb. 11, 2011 @ 21:49 GMT
Hi Tom,

I think it will play in Peoria, except for maybe the whole string theory part. We're still unsure about all that. After all, we are a fairly conservative Midwestern town. No Ed Wittens or Stephen Hawkings here, just us wannabes. Wannabe someplace else. Not really, it's really a great place to live, I just wouldn't want to visit here.

Still, the survey was the tougher route IMO. Not everyone could pull it off. But, after all, you are a professional.

Dan

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Georgina Parry wrote on Feb. 14, 2011 @ 11:53 GMT
Dear Tom,

I have read your essay and will have to read it again when I am less tired. It is well written but it did surprise me. I was not expecting a discussion of biology and art and what you consider life to be. Your hypnotherapist wife and your sculptor friend. It is so different from your FQXi blog forum contributions where you demonstrate a very harsh and rigorously argued approach to other peoples ramblings. It is interesting to see another side to Tom.

You said "science is not about reality." That may be true but it is an unfortunate situation that I think needs remedying. Space-time mathematics has disconnected us from realism and quantum physics even more so. Before you say it, I know science also does not care what I think. I will take the time to read your essay again and be more constructive with my feedback. You have an impressively long list of references. Good luck.

Regards, Georgina.

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Feb. 14, 2011 @ 16:27 GMT
Dear Georgina,

You are so kind, thank you.

I think it's more or less obvious that I lack the social skills that most of you expect in these forums, and that many of you take for granted. And rigorous argument is just a product of my first love: mathematics.

The differences between you and me have to do with whether external nature is ordered differently than our biology. I say probably no, and you say probably yes. I just don't see a demonstrable boundary between inorganic beingness (that includes the phenomenon of consciousness on a continuum from simple to complex) and organic self organization. Perhaps the experimental breakthrough will come along with research into AI, or maybe abiogeneis.

I'll look forward to more dialogue.

All best,

Tom

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Georgina Woodward replied on Feb. 14, 2011 @ 22:29 GMT
Hi Tom ,

Nothing wrong with a rigorous argument, I have given a few people a hard time too. However unforgiving criticism devoid of encouragement or positivity can also be an irritant to the recipient.

The discussions we have had about consciousness on the FQXi blog forums have perhaps caused you to prejudge what I am saying in this essay contest. I have taken the advice given to me by Peter Jackson on the FQXi blog forum to avoid talking about the "minefield of human consciousness". It does distract from the simple physical process of image reality formation that I have also been talking about.

Marius Buliga on the other hand does discuss the reality produced by the biological structure and functioning of the organism. His paper is more mathematical than my own and may be therfore more to your liking. He was kind enough to say that he liked my essay and he could see the overlap in our thinking.

As I have said I will return to your essay, and I will then, contrary to my current un-objective inclination, discuss its many merits.

Regards, Georgina.

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Georgina Parry replied on Feb. 16, 2011 @ 11:04 GMT
Tom ,

I have re read your essay. This is what I think. It has a relaxed and easy style. It is more of the magazine article, that FQXi requested, than the demanding formal academic paper. I wanted to sit down and read it with a nice cup of coffee and biscuits. Like a longer new scientist article. Not too taxing on the brain but educational, lighthearted and enjoyable.

It came in easily digestible paragraphs, rather like a buffet of snacks than a full formal dinner. A variety of morsels. Life and death choices, battles for survival, predator prey relationships but then a personal interlude including friends and family. There was art and sculpture food, wine. I do not feel I would be invited, so this is a little voyeuristic. I am taken into your reality not mine, but the relaxed buffet continues.I am back with the scientists, the history of their thoughts and ideas.

It is like a long evening of pleasant conversation.I am surprised to be here but nothing is astonishing or outrageous but neither is anything unpleasant or strenuous. Having conversed with you on many previous occasions I know the accuracy and faithfulness to scientific theory that is demanded. I assume that the same standards apply to yourself. Therefore I do not feel the necessity to examine the minutiae of what is written. Your relaxed presentation gives the piece less immediate authority, than the other historical reviews in the contest. But I have no reason to think it is less accurate. It is just different. Originality is important.

This essay ticks the boxes. As the essay of a professional writer should. It is your craft. I have said that the essays should be marked upon the evaluation criteria. Using those criteria it does well. A fine effort.

Tom you really said "Science just isn't about reality... A donkey is not a philosopher... Seeing is all that makes it real." I will remember that. (They did not appear together in the text but they work so well together.)

Good luck, Georgina.

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Lev Goldfarb wrote on Feb. 17, 2011 @ 23:02 GMT
Hello Tom,

Good to see you participating in the contest!

By the way, you probably know that your essay is a "dangerous" mix of art and science. ;-))

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Feb. 18, 2011 @ 12:21 GMT
Hi Lev,

Oh, yes, I know. :-)

I'm a fan of yours, and I haven't forgotten to post a note in your forum. It's just that I'm still groping for the right words. The idea of identity between time and information still binds us two. The choice of computable representation still hangs me up.

All best,

Tom

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Lev Goldfarb replied on Feb. 18, 2011 @ 13:16 GMT
Tom,

"The idea of identity between time and information still binds us two. The choice of computable representation still hangs me up."

May I help?

May be all one needs to say is that information is embodied in the *temporal* flow of events.

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Lev Goldfarb replied on Feb. 22, 2011 @ 21:35 GMT
Tom,

Also, the reason "reality" is perceived differently by a scientist and a non-scientist has to do with the fact that our numeric formalism degrades reality to an unrecognizable state. As you know, my suggestion is to switch to an event-based formalism, which does not degrade the reality as we perceive it.

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Chris Kennedy wrote on Feb. 24, 2011 @ 00:23 GMT
T.H.

I enjoyed your essay. You weaved a lot of topics together, but with good transitions.

A few thoughts:

I like your comment about zero consciousness. But if Buridan's ass hits thermodynamic equilibrium, wouldn't zero consciousness be reached at the moment of equilibrium? or do many small scale molecular levels of information exchange still count? I like Rodolfo Llinas' take on consciousness - he likens it to having the ability to predict. I personally think it could be that and/or the ability to use discretion (of course that opens up the free will discussion).

And of course the nature of time has to be part of the analog vs. digital discussion. My hunch is if it is discrete, that will much easier to prove eventually. If continuous, it will have to be presented as a flawless logical proof since its measurement will always be with discrete devices.

If you get a chance - I think you would enjoy my essay. I focus on issues of quantum mechanics that debate whether light and electrons bounce back and forth between digital and analog or maintain both properties (as in pilot wave).

Keep up the good work.

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Author Thomas Howard Ray wrote on Feb. 24, 2011 @ 16:02 GMT
Thanks for the encouragement, Chris!

Consciousness has to be put into the context of my agreement with Murray Gell-Mann that it lies on a continuum from simple to complex (from quark to jaguar as Gell-Mann phrases it). So it would be pointless to speak of "zero consciousness" in other than an arbitrary sense, such as the demarcation at the death of an organism, as you suggest. Yes, those small scale levels do count -- in what I among others deem to be a world of scale invariance and infinite self-similarity, self-organization at every scale implies conscious (or if one would prefer to separate inorganic from organic, though there is no demonstrable physical boundary, perhaps "pseudo-conscious") action.

I am not familiar with Llinas. I disagree, however, that consciousness requires prediction. That would be a sufficient but not necessary condition. As I tried to make clear, in a rational universe, survival-based choices from a field of variable values are dependent on available information (the problem of bounded rationality) and not on an assumption of innate free will, which I deem superfluous.

So far as time is concerned, if you're interested, the technical endnote contains a link to my publications and preprints that deal extensively with my view of the subject.

Thanks for the motivation and the opportunity to help make some things clearer.

Good luck in the contest!

Best,

Tom

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John Merryman wrote on Feb. 26, 2011 @ 03:37 GMT
Tom,

Math without the math. Devious.

If "information, gravity—and time—are identical," does that mean energy, expansion and presence are also identical?

Hawking listed expansion as one of his arrows of time, but when you think of it, or at least I do, gravity was Einstein's arrow of time, especially since he thought of light as timeless, so they go opposite directions. Is time the expansion into the the future, or the collapse into the past?

It is a very interesting essay, but is it supposed to be thematically backward? You start off with that beautiful analog flow and then it breaks down into pixilated digits of insight and observation, to the point I felt like my mind was skipping across the surface of a pond...but then you tie together with a little twist at the end...

You don't bring this level of firepower to the blog discussions though.

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Feb. 28, 2011 @ 12:54 GMT
Thank you, John.

Einstein's arrow of time was always observer dependent, and gravity being time symmetric, time (at least in terms of past, present, future) is an illusion in general relativity. Einstein didn't just think of light as timeless -- it is timeless. I.e., there is no time inetrval between pairs of entangled photons, no matter the separation. Because the expanding universe is supported both by observation, and as a solution to general relativity, there is the "horizon problem" -- the question of how photons at the beginning of time, assumed to originate at a singularity, communicate from one end of the universe to the other as a function of time. One of Hawking's solutuons is to introduce imaginary time in the complex plane -- the arrow of expansion does not then contradict the spatial properties of quantum mechanics, which cannot accommodate singularities. This is one attempt to build a singularity-free theory while preserving relativity.

There's irony in your (and Georgina's) picking up subtleties in my essay that I intended, yet can be comprehended only with the most careful reading. Those expecting technical discourse have been very critical for not finding it; however, the structure is actually part of the message. Yes, it is supposed to be "backward" as you put it, as symbolic of the way life is lived. That is, continuous feedback to the conscious organism creates the appearance of smooth and continuous flow, while the foundation of discrete particle interaction is the engine which powers that feedback (on multiple scales in a scale invariant universe). I got really annoyed at myself in the first few drafts, as the narration got choppier and choppier. I tried to clean it up as best I could, to be readable without losing the message. I don't feel I succeeded as well as I might have.

Best,

Tom

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Peter Jackson wrote on Mar. 3, 2011 @ 13:16 GMT
Tom

I too was surprised reading the essay, on most counts, but pleasantly surprised. Yes. I found it very 'choppy' as you put it, but as it was a resume of discrete topographical features in a massive landscape that's unavoidable. (Eckard advised me to drop the scatter gun approach, good advice, but others would note key pellets omitted).

Another was your use of some of my favourite quotes! and, surprisingly, I couldn't avoid feeling many of your (strictly rationed) observations actually paralleled my own philosophy, almost as if we were in separate parallel but brane universes! For instance; "decision-making is limited to available information, which is never complete" "While our information processing capacity is finite, nature’s is infinite", "The algebra of discrete events is therefore compelled to play a bigger role in physics", (Bar-Yam)"a system of discrete schema that, like quantum mechanics, begs classical parameters", and "physical influences at any distance are not compelled to be smoothly connected, only correspondent, harmonic". All these directly apply to the model I'm trying to get falsified, which is another "Singularity free theory preserving relativity" - although I know you haven't yet seen it as that.

I see our difference may be that my own marriage of art and science HAS to end up with falsifiable reality. My buildings have to be actually built and lived in, I KNOW they are real, and affect peoples views of reality. I don't have the luxury you have to stay in the realm of theorization. I have to yeild results from it. This is where my model comes from, and so far it has withstood all logical assault!

If an engineer can show how and why may sketch designs may fall down I am extatic! I can't have them collapsing later. I'm concerned when engineers only say "It must fail because it doesn't look like the Eiffel tower, which we know works perfectly, and I haven't seen one like it before" ..they get fired! I think you'd be capable of a better job on my model than you've tried so far, and would be honoured if you'd give it a try.

Thanks for surprising me. Best of luck.

Peter

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Mar. 3, 2011 @ 19:23 GMT
Thank you, Peter.

You may have heard this one:

A psychologist is interviewing a mathematician and an engineer. She asks the engineer, "Suppose a fire breaks out in the wastebasket, and there's a glass of water on the coffee table. What would you do?" He replies, "I would take the glass of water from the table and douse the fire." The psychologst turns to the mathematician and...

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Anonymous wrote on Mar. 3, 2011 @ 21:31 GMT
Tom

Thanks, Hope you'll read the essay, and string comments. Logical assault repulsed, but first, resting my magazine over the wast basket (about 2 secs of air) you must have heard of the astronomer, physicist and mathematician on the train to Scotland. Sitting across the gangway was an architect. Let me know if you know it and I'll complete it.

Let's use the same train, which is...

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T H Ray replied on Mar. 4, 2011 @ 12:44 GMT
Peter,

I am no hero, have often been called stupid and a fool, and the last time I was on a horse I had to endure my cousin (an expert horsewoman) shouting at me, "Let go of that saddlehorn, you sissy!"

In any case, the relativity of simultaneous events is well understood and tested. It doesn't change when one imposes special conditions for the speed of light, because we always use the vacuum speed, and correct for conditions. In other words, the physically real phenomenon that is independent in its physical properties is not affected by those conditions.

I haven't heard the joke, but I think I know where it's going. :-)

Best,

Tom

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Peter Jackson wrote on Mar. 4, 2011 @ 18:01 GMT
Tom

The critical difference there are not tested at all Tom (just the postulates that agree with both solutions). I'm sorry about the logical lance through the heart. I'm sure you'll brush it off, but those who attack the shining armour with popcorn must learn that reliance on folklore won't protect them in these enlightened times!

At least Einstein admitted he looked like an ostridge and kept his head up searching for the way our of the (apparently only apparent!) paradoxes. Some deny he needed to (but get a mouthful of sand).

Anyway;

A few minutes before arrival time in Edinborough for the science conference the Astronomer spotted a black sheep alone in a field "Wow, he said, .look! ...scottish sheep are black!"

The physicist tutted, "No, ..all that tells us is that SOME scottish sheep are black."

The mathematicin said; "No, ..all we know is that there is one scottish sheep in one field, a minimum of half of which is black."

The Architect sitting opposite checked his watch. He'd just been admiring a well known perpendicular church spire in a village they passed, 10 miles from the border. He said; "You may find that a little inacurate.." they gave him a strange look "....it seems ....we may be running a little late..?"

They turned away from the stupid 'amateur', shook their heads and carried on talking.

If any one initial proposition, assumption or axiom is just slightly out the whole theory is invalidated, and no amount of brilliant maths will make it correct. All it will do is fool people into beleiving the answer is proved.

They discussed the sheep at the conference. At the end of the week the architect saw them again and explained. No amount of evidence would now convince them the sheep wasn't scottish as the pattern was now embedded in their brain cell structure. Quite obviously the train had just slowed down!

I suggest that's where much of physics has been for some decades.

Peter

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Member Tejinder Pal Singh wrote on Mar. 6, 2011 @ 08:58 GMT
Dear Tom,

Thank you for your kind remarks on my essay.

I have thoroughly enjoyed your essay, written in a very readable and lucid style. I learnt new things; especially fun was Buridan's ass. It again brings out the importance of fluctuations away from equilibrium! Where you discuss the Jacobson-Verlinde work on the gravity-thermodynamics connection, I also wanted to mention the related noteworthy work of my Indian colleague Thanu Padmanabhan [available on the internet].

Best wishes,

Tejinder

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Mar. 6, 2011 @ 15:13 GMT
Dear Tejinder,

Thank you so much. I'm glad you enjoyed my essay, as you know I did yours.

Your comments are right on point, and I appreciate the reference to Thanu Padmanabhan, whose work I am certain to explore further. Since Hawking's revelations in the 70s, I think we've come closer and closer to realizing that time reversal symmetry in classical physics is not incompatible with irreversible thermodynamics, given a unifying theory. I regret not spending more time on the models of Jacobson, Verlinde and 't Hooft, because they are really closer to my own research, but my choice to do a survey-type article wouldn't allow it.

All best,

Tom

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Vladimir F. Tamari wrote on Mar. 7, 2011 @ 16:37 GMT
Dear Tom

I could not claim to have read your paper in detail, just skimmed through - enough to tell me your erudition and original approach- including the artist's sensibility in discussing 'reality' - all demand a more careful reading and a lot of study. You talk of seeing - an issue I am giddily aware of, having regained full sight after cataract operations. Things that appeared discolored and out of focus have regained their true clarity. My experience has shown me how one's viewpoint can be so limited and distorted, yet one thinks it is the absolute truth. The interesting thing about reading the various posts here is to realize how many such 'truths' there are!

I wish you all the best

Vladimir

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Mar. 7, 2011 @ 17:05 GMT
Dear Vladimir,

Having seen some of your art (it's beautiful) on the web, I can appreciate how psychologically painful it must have been to lose the use of your eyes.

I was a young teenager when I read Ernest Dimnet's book from which I memorized the quote in my essay: "Artists possess those eyes less made to love reality than to go straight to its essentials." I expect that the essentials remained, even when you were temporarily deprived of the ability to project them to a physical medium. And I expect that the essentials remain in the world, always, projected onto the phenomenon we call life.

Truth? What's that -- in science, only a measured correspondence between theory and result. We can see the truth, even when we don't know it.

Tom

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Vladimir F. Tamari replied on Mar. 8, 2011 @ 01:35 GMT
Thanks Tom, that is kind of you. Luckily I had use of my sight but the quality became really poor in the last year or so, and I could continue to paint, albeit with cruder colors and shapes. Nevertheless it was a useful reminder of how limited a lifetime can be, and how limited what we can understand and do in the scheme of things! In your papers you seem to concentrate on the nature of time. In my theory I realized time as a dimension is unnecessary and I have adopted this attitude in my life as well : reality here and now as the only one I can realistically deal with! However the human imagination and memory can stretch this reality to include "infinity in an hour" to use Blake's wonderful phrase. As another fqxi author called Ray signs off - "Have Fun !"

Best wishes from Vladimir

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Constantinos Ragazas wrote on Mar. 7, 2011 @ 19:47 GMT
Hello Tom,

Since we already had a good number of exchanges in these blogs all last year, I'm sure you formed your views on my ideas. But I ask you to take a fresh look! The essay will help you see how one result relates to all others. It is a clear convinceing summary of most all of my papers. The whole is much greater than the sum of the (in)descrete parts. But the key idea in all of these (the Rosetta Stone, as it were) is the following:

"Planck's Law of blackbody radiation is an exact mathematical tautology that describes the interaction of measurement".

This I argue explains why the blackbody spectrum obtained experimentally is indistinguishable from the theoretical curve.

Please comment on the above and support my efforts to get this result 'peer reviewed' by the 'panel of experts'.

All the best,

Constantinos Ragazas

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T H Ray replied on Mar. 8, 2011 @ 15:45 GMT
Constantinos,

I can't imagine what you want from me, when you are already positioned in the "top 35" who get reviewed, and I'm not. I think it's a rather strange and unfair game, when the voters -- like partners in a card game -- can freely signal across the table to one another.

The only winning strategy is to fold one's hand and walk away.

As you suggest, you already know what I think. I heartily sympathize with your desire to have all physics described by continuous functions. I think we should leave it at that.

Tom

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Constantinos Ragazas replied on Mar. 8, 2011 @ 19:51 GMT
Tom,

More than anything what I want from you is to read and study my essay. There you will find a complete summary of all the 'parts' to tit-bits we have on occassion discussed. My hope is that if you see the whole picture you may also change some of your views about the individual results.

My commitment is to have these results be considered seriously by the panel of experts. This is not about me! I don't care otherwise about winning. I am sorry that you feel this is a 'horse race'. It's not for me!

Best wishes,

Constantinos

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Mar. 8, 2011 @ 22:51 GMT
Constantinos,

What am I to think? You come into my forum without a mention of the 12 pages I sweated out, asking for a boost from me, to help get your paper reviewed. Surely you understand that this panel of experts is not the same as an editorial review board. So it is a horse race of sorts, with the judges picking the winners from the results of the first heat.

It's the hypocrisy of many of the entrants that annoys me. While unfairly castigating "the establishment" for somehow keeping them from publishing their genius in Science or Nature, they form their own establishment of voters stroking each other for a spot in the championship heat. That's a good way, as I once heard the job of an editor described, to "separate the wheat from the chaff, and make sure the chaff gets published."

I'll read your paper, Constantinos. Meanwhile, you know the journals and conferences where physics is done -- get in there and slug it out. This is just a pillow fight. (So I mixed metaphors -- sue me.)

All best,

Tom

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Cristinel Stoica wrote on Mar. 8, 2011 @ 13:53 GMT
Hi Tom,

congratulations for this beautiful essay. I like what you said: "we can see reality from here. Because seeing it is all that makes it real".

Best regards,

Cristi

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Mar. 8, 2011 @ 15:56 GMT
Thank you, Cristi. You know that I have high regard for your research. Good luck in the contest!

All best,

Tom

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James Lee Hoover wrote on Mar. 8, 2011 @ 23:49 GMT
Yet if reality is irrelevant to science, why bother with digital vs. analog at all? Because:

The boundary between continuous experience and discrete event is the only demonstrably objective boundary, and it’s where all the interesting stuff is.

Thomas,

I like your description of reality and the varied representations of it.

I like the distinction above. My prejudice is analogue with the continuous nature of the universe/s.

Jim Hoover

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Ray Munroe wrote on Mar. 9, 2011 @ 16:35 GMT
Dear Tom,

I enjoyed your essay. It was as readable as Barbour's, and quite broad in its approach to answering this question.

Regarding Constantinos, I think that his Properties of Exponential Functions accidentally assumes Bose's Partition Function, and is therefore an incomplete and biased (because it doesn't include identical-particle Maxwell and Pauli-exclusion-particle Fermi statistics) circular argument (if we assume a continuous-like [0,infinity) Bose Partition function, we should get continuous results). He must have a larger fan-base than we have...

Good Luck & Have Fun!

Dr. Cosmic Ray

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Mar. 9, 2011 @ 19:04 GMT
Thanks, Ray! It's a high compliment to be compared to Julian Barbour.

I haven't forgotten about you. I was just reserving time at the end to more enjoy the essays of people with whose work I am somewhat familiar.

Sorry, my quota of Constantinos-related dialogue is filled for today. :-)

Best,

Tom

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Mar. 9, 2011 @ 20:36 GMT
I'm calling an end to this. To barge into my forum and engage in marathon postings without ever once even mentioning my essay, while promoting your own interests, is the very definition of chutzpah.

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Mar. 9, 2011 @ 20:45 GMT
The above appears in the wrong thread, but I think it's easy enough to figure out where it belongs.

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Author Yuri Danoyan+ wrote on Mar. 9, 2011 @ 20:16 GMT
You are not right Tomas!

The Universe is discrete/

http://www.fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/946

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Mar. 10, 2011 @ 10:07 GMT
Of course the universe is discrete. It's the only one we have. Good luck, Yuri.

Tom

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James Lee Hoover wrote on Mar. 9, 2011 @ 21:24 GMT
Thomas,

I have rated very few but I like your style.

Jim

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Mar. 9, 2011 @ 22:08 GMT
Thanks, Jim! you got a thumbs up from me, too.

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Paul Halpern wrote on Mar. 10, 2011 @ 22:00 GMT
Tom,

Fascinating and well-written essay about the dichotomy between the actions of the observer and nature itself. It is an interesting question whether or not there truly is an objective reality. Highly worthwhile!

Best wishes,

Paul

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Author Thomas Howard Ray replied on Mar. 11, 2011 @ 11:36 GMT
Thanks, Paul! You're very kind.

All best,

Tom

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Constantinos Ragazas wrote on Mar. 17, 2011 @ 02:28 GMT
Tom,

I am sorry your essay did not make it to the final round! After my high rating of your essay I thought for sure you will make it. But Stoica just sneaked past you the last few minutes to bump you off 35. Hard to understand these community ratings, since you have the exact same score as Stoica with even more members voting for you, yet you placed lower! Maybe an appeal is in order?

The future is as uncertain as this contest was just a day ago. Anything can happen …

best wishes,

Constantinos

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T H Ray replied on Mar. 17, 2011 @ 12:28 GMT
Constantinos,

I appreciate that your heart is in the right place. However, I already strongly suspected that I was going to place out of the running in the last couple of days. Why? -- because I voted up two papers (Dolce and Fritz) who I knew deserved to be in the final. Cristi didn't sneak past me; sure, I almost certainly could have maintained position by voting down competitors if I had no conscience.

Scientific publishing, however (if that is really what we're supposed to be dealing with here) is not -- like the competitive commercial world -- based on shameless self promotion. I warned early against the effect of "sandbagging" the competition, and sacrificing integrity.

The panel will do what the panel will do; I request no favors. My point is, and always has been, that if FQXi wants to be respected as a science organization, it has to eliminate self promotion, and deal making, as criteria for judging the quality of work.

Best,

Tom

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Constantinos Ragazas replied on Mar. 17, 2011 @ 14:39 GMT
Tom,

I couldn't agree with you more! Think of all the fine ideas out there that can't even get to the door and are left to waist in ignonimity!

best,

Constantinos

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basudeba wrote on Mar. 20, 2011 @ 06:24 GMT
Sub: Possibility of manipulation in judging criteria – suggestions for improvement.

Sir,

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...

view entire post


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Eckard Blumschein wrote on Apr. 1, 2011 @ 11:46 GMT
Dear Tom,

I am still unable to read your essay. John Merryman told me you did defend SR. Can you please point me to any easily available text that explains to me why Maxwell's equations or perhaps every wave equation requires gamma and its rather paradox interpretation independent of the sign of velocity? I looked in vain into the papers by Voigt, FitzGerald, Larmor, and Lorentz. Elsewhere I found the argument of covariance. However, doesn't this already refer to a relativistic metric with antisymmetric tensors? I would be ready to consider myself just too stupid. However, I guess Von Essen, Van Flandern, Winterberg and many others were or are respected experts. While my essay is pretty independent from this question I would nonetheless appreciate help.

Regards,

Eckard

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T H Ray replied on Apr. 2, 2011 @ 11:33 GMT
Hi Eckard,

I don't understand why you can't read my essay. Maybe try this: link Perhaps opening it in another window will make a difference. Or I could email it to you as an attachment. Let me know.

Have you read Einstein's own book _The Meaning of Relativity?_ If you tell me what you specifically object to in that volume, I would be prepared to address it. It isn't a matter of anyone being stupid, rather a matter of following through on general premises with a mathematical model and physical results. Relativity is mathematically complete.

Best,

Tom

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T H Ray replied on Apr. 2, 2011 @ 12:21 GMT
Another thought. Are you running the latest version of Adobe Reader?

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Eckard Blumschein wrote on Apr. 3, 2011 @ 06:25 GMT
Dear Tom,

It does perhaps not matter that we cannot refer to the same literature because Einstein’s “The Meaning of Relativity” is not immediately available to me. I have at hands David Bohm’s “The Special Theory of Relativity” and Einstein’s 1905 “original” paper in German.

The moot point in Einstein’s special theory of relativity is lacking symmetry or in other words unjustified “synchronization”. Van Flandern called it desynchronization. The above mentioned paper is a bit difficult to elucidate because it does not reveal its roots in work by Poincaré, Lorentz, and others who tried to interpret asymmetrical experiments that related to a hypothetical medium carrying electromagnetic waves. With c for the speed of light and v for the speed of motion between a sender/receiver of light and a reflecting mirror at distance L they calculated a return time T_r.

T_r = L/(c+v) + L/(c-v) = 2L/(c^2-v^2),

T_r is paradoxically the same for increasing as well as decreasing distance. A fair calculation would either yield T_i = L/(c+v) in case of increasing distance or T_d= L/(c-v) in case of decreasing distance. This would be still symmetrically correct with sender/receiver and mirror exchanged. There was no twin paradox.

Before investigating what’s wrong here I will comment on premature conclusions. One may neither conclude from negative outcome of the famous Michelson-Morley experiment that light is not carried by some ether nor that light is emitted as suggested by Ritz at a velocity added to the velocity of its source. Also, the Fizeau experiment cannot be used to find out the speed of the Earth relative to the ether because its result is independent of this speed.

I am arguing that lacking appropriateness and understanding of models never justifies abandoning the most fundamental principles of logic and causality. The reason for me to exemplary deal with the old controversies was to find out basic mistakes.

Lorentz’s local time goes back to his speculation that electrons are moving on ellipses around the nucleus which are shorted by the ratio sqrt(1-v^2-c^2) in the direction of motion relative to the ether. FitzGerald had earlier suggested the same. While such length contraction has never been measured, it relates to the barn paradox.

To be continued. Thank you so far.

Regards,

Eckard

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Author Yuri Danoyan+ replied on Apr. 4, 2011 @ 05:45 GMT
This is Stefan Marinov's fundamental article:

http://www.fqxi.org/community/forum/topic/946#addPos
t

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Author Yuri Danoyan+ replied on Apr. 5, 2011 @ 11:23 GMT
This is the best summary of the results of the Marinov experiment ...

http://www.ptep-online.com/index_files/2007/PP-08-05.PDF

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Author Thomas Howard Ray wrote on Apr. 5, 2011 @ 11:58 GMT
Dear Eckard,

When we speak of distances between mass points increasing or decreasing, we describe a symmetry between positive and negative acceleration. The twin paradox is not a paradox, true, but for different reasons than you describe. The case is asymmetric, in that the traveling twin has to negatively accelerate to return to his point of origin, a condition that does not apply to the stay at home twin.

Van Flandern's analysis, as I understand it, has the speed of gravity exceed the speed of light by many orders of magnitude, which I find incompatible both with a fully relativistic theory and a quantum theory. I would be satisfied to find the speed of gravity to be infinite (Mach's principle) but not limited in any other terms than the exchange of signals among bodies. This leads us to a field theory, knowing that the influence of both gravity and EM fields is infinite, in accordance with the inverse square law.

Best,

Tom

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Author Yuri Danoyan+ replied on Apr. 5, 2011 @ 15:56 GMT
Tom

Van Flandern's last article here:

http://www.eclipse2006.boun.edu.tr/sss/paper01.pdf

1)Spe
ed of gravity = speed of light.(regardless of their values)



It is eternal Law because



I am sure Planck mass(energy) eternal relevant.

I am not sure about Planck length and Planck time.

I will try why:

Perhaps h only dimensionful constant of Nature? Some hint give Planck mass Mp=(hc/G)^1/2 .We simultaneously can decrease or increase c and G, but Mp remains unchanged.



I think that the speed of light and speed of gravity the same independently the are luminal or superluminal.

In the formula Planck length G/c^3 no linear link.

In the formula Planck time G/c^5 no linear link.

2)Speed of light not constant(see Marinov works)

Yuri

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Eckard Blumschein replied on Apr. 5, 2011 @ 21:23 GMT
Dear Tom,

I appreciate your readiness to take issue concerning SR. As promised I will continue to explain the reasons why SR is not convincing to me. I will do so in detail at my thread 833 because my arguments are related to my essay.

1T: "When we speak of distances between mass points increasing or decreasing, we describe a symmetry between positive and negative acceleration."

1E: Relativity of motion with constant velocity does not need acceleration. Einstein's 1905 paper did not at all mention acceleration.

2T: The twin paradox is not a paradox, true, but for different reasons than you describe.

2E: Only proponents of SR declare the twin paradox not a paradox.

3T: "The case is asymmetric, in that the traveling twin has to negatively accelerate to return to his point of origin, a condition that does not apply to the stay at home twin."

3E: While Bohm in his chapter XXX 'The "Paradox" of the twins' takes acceleration into account, he nonetheless avoids your argument. There is a simple counterargument: The growing difference in age depends on how long the journey is. The effects of accelerations don't.

4T: "Van Flandern's analysis, as I understand it, has the speed of gravity exceed the speed of light by many orders of magnitude, which I find incompatible both with a fully relativistic theory and a quantum theory. I would be satisfied to find the speed of gravity to be infinite (Mach's principle) but not limited in any other terms than the exchange of signals among bodies. This leads us to a field theory, knowing that the influence of both gravity and EM fields is infinite, in accordance with the inverse square law.

4E:It is not my business to deal with gravity. Many arguments of Van Flandern seem to show that the putatively overwhelming body of evidence for SR is in so far invalid as there are alternative, often simpler and more plausible interpretations. Having found the origin of Lorentz factor in a speculative application of an old mechanical model of atoms, I wonder why not even Van Flandern abandoned it, the more because he was fully aware that there is no length contraction and time dilution in reality.

Before my final judgment I will read Richard Haskell 2003 Special Relativity and Maxwell's Equations.

Regards,

Eckard

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Author Yuri Danoyan+ replied on Apr. 6, 2011 @ 00:24 GMT
Dear Eckard

Just in case...

http://arxiv.org/abs/1104.0682

Regards

Yuri

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