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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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Peter Jackson: on 3/9/11 at 15:42pm UTC, wrote Tony Have just re-read your essay properly (not difficult or I may not...

Tony: on 2/28/11 at 15:14pm UTC, wrote Thanks Jonathan - I'll check the articles you mentioned. And yes, the idea...

Jonathan Dickau: on 2/23/11 at 2:27am UTC, wrote Hello Tony, It appears that you are saying that since things evolve to...

Tony Zeigler: on 2/14/11 at 12:43pm UTC, wrote Essay Abstract A very short essay that describes how the process...


H.H.J. Luediger: "Even darker.... one can not easily downrate a racehorse to a donkey, but..." in Undecidability,...

Steve Agnew: "Well thank-you, you are very kind. I have come to appreciate the fact that..." in Quantum Dream Time

Samuel Parsons: "O also means a whole new universe in a box can be recreated a miniverse..." in Outside the Box

Samuel Parsons: "Is it 127? It's always comes back here. Just saying also I'm trying to..." in Outside the Box

Zeeya Merali: "INSPYRE, INternational School on modern PhYsics and REsearch, organized by..." in Welcome to INSPYRE 2020 -...

David Sloan: "Dear Alan, For any discussion regarding the essay contest, the contact..." in Undecidability,...

Jonathan Dickau: "Thank you Peter... For the kind words of explanation. It is looking like..." in From Cosmic Lighthouses...

Lawrence Crowell: "Tejinder, I was intrigued by your FQXi essay. Thanks for this reference to..." in Alternative Models of...

click titles to read articles

Building Agency in the Biology Lab
Physicists are using optogenetics techniques to make a rudimentary agent, from cellular components, which can convert measurements into actions using light.

Think Quantum to Build Better AI
Investigating how quantum memory storage could aid machine learning and how quantum interactions with the environment may have played a role in evolution.

Outside the Box
A proposed quantum set-up that could predict your game-playing strategy resurrects Newcomb’s classic quiz show paradox.

The Quantum Agent
Investigating how the quantum measurement process might be related to the emergence of intelligence, agency and free will.

First Things First: The Physics of Causality
Why do we remember the past and not the future? Untangling the connections between cause and effect, choice, and entropy.

May 28, 2020

CATEGORY: Is Reality Digital or Analog? Essay Contest (2010-2011) [back]
TOPIC: Evolutionary Principles Result in Digital Appearance. by Tony Zeigler [refresh]
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Author Tony Zeigler wrote on Feb. 14, 2011 @ 12:43 GMT
Essay Abstract

A very short essay that describes how the process which laymen may refer to as evolution results in the appearance of a digital world.

Author Bio

Computer programmer.

Download Essay PDF File

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Jonathan J. Dickau wrote on Feb. 23, 2011 @ 02:27 GMT
Hello Tony,

It appears that you are saying that since things evolve to have distinct forms in a shorter time frame than it takes to detect or observe them, this is what gives reality the appearance of discreteness. But there was insufficient detail to tell if that is what you really meant.

It is my guess that you are trying to hint at some of the beliefs of decoherence theory. You might want to check out this web-site maintained by Erich Joos, for some basic information and references on that subject.

You might also enjoy my essay, since I talk a little about both evolution and decoherence.

Please give us a little more next time.


Jonathan J. Dickau

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Tony replied on Feb. 28, 2011 @ 15:14 GMT
Thanks Jonathan - I'll check the articles you mentioned.

And yes, the idea was quite simple. Sadly, I never got the hang of doing math proofs - and thus the lack of equations. I just rely on my ability to visualize patterns.

Also - I'm poorly read in the area. Wouldn't surprise me at all if the path of thought had already been considered by others and I simply hadn't read about it yet!

The idea came to me when I was reading "Mr. Tompkins Gets Serious" and visualizing the forces that might result in radioactive materials. They seemed very similar to planetary escape velocity, or star clusters in the center of galaxies. All being systems that are unstable for some reason and kick out pieces of themselves as they try to reach a stable state.

The rate they fall apart, or move towards stability, seems to be related to size. A star cluster make wait eons before ejecting a member. The earth may wait centuries before a volcano manages to eject a rock into space. Atoms may go even faster still.

Follow the pattern as it scales down, and it suggests at some point we simply cannot detect the unstable forms because they stabilize too quickly. Ie., the pattern ends because we reach a limitation on ourselves - not because the pattern truly ends.

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Peter Jackson wrote on Mar. 9, 2011 @ 15:42 GMT

Have just re-read your essay properly (not difficult or I may not have bothered!!) and been quite astonished how perceptive those few words are. I do hope you may read mine, from another non physicist, to see if you can find the correlations (and hopefully feel it's worth a good score!)

I'm effectively saying, in another way, the smallest particles condense to implement change. Everyone struggles to perceive the dynamic variables to start with, then find it's so unbeleivably simple it's simply unbelievable (to long trained physicists with relatively fixed viewpoints). The implications of that one sentence may however catch us up over 100 years! - if it gets noticed at all.

Please do let me know if you've read and seen it. I really need to understand how to better explain it (easy with moving pictures).

Many thanks

Best wishes


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