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What Is “Fundamental”
October 28, 2017 to January 22, 2018
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Wandering Towards a Goal
How can mindless mathematical laws give rise to aims and intention?
December 2, 2016 to March 3, 2017
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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
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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
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Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?
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Is Reality Digital or Analog?
November 2010 - February 2011
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What's Ultimately Possible in Physics?
May - October 2009
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Edwin Klingman: on 3/14/11 at 22:34pm UTC, wrote John, The scores that show are 'public' scores. When another author rates...

Edwin Klingman: on 3/14/11 at 22:30pm UTC, wrote John, As I'm sure you are aware, your above comment is packed with too...

John Gadway: on 3/14/11 at 17:34pm UTC, wrote Peter, I'm on a road trip right now, so could only take a cursory look at...

Steve Dufourny: on 3/14/11 at 16:16pm UTC, wrote I think I can create it in Belgium. I have had several contacts this last...

Peter Jackson: on 3/13/11 at 23:02pm UTC, wrote John Very interesting essay with an original approach. Excellent for a non...

Edwin Klingman: on 3/11/11 at 19:53pm UTC, wrote John, Thanks for the extended response above. I regret that you were...

John Gadway: on 3/11/11 at 15:35pm UTC, wrote Edwin, I re-read your essay with increasing interest and frustration with...

Edwin Klingman: on 3/11/11 at 2:32am UTC, wrote John, I very much look forward to your comments. Edwin Eugene Klingman


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Georgina Woodward: "Cf. Lion Location Probability Field and lion entity trapped- with QFT type..." in Anatomy of spacetime and...

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Georgina Woodward: "Thank you. Good luck." in The Nature of Time

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September 18, 2021

CATEGORY: Is Reality Digital or Analog? Essay Contest (2010-2011) [back]
TOPIC: Is Reality Digital or Analog: A World View by John Francis Gadway [refresh]
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Author John Francis Gadway wrote on Feb. 15, 2011 @ 11:00 GMT
Essay Abstract

On the assumption that reality is more encompassing than the usual subject matter of the physical sciences this essay motivates the notion that physical reality, which reveals its insubstantial nature when examined closely, can be viewed as an information-processing system that connects organisms with the consequences of their actions as a means of generating knowledge and ultimately consciousness. The Perfect Anthropic Cosmological Principle [PACP] is introduced, a hypothesis at the explanatory level of an Aristotelian Final Cause that makes falsifiable predictions about what can and cannot be observed in the physical universe. The essay concludes that models of physical systems, even cosmological models that attempt to view the universe objectively, deal only in the information-processing power of physical reality, which, in the grander scheme of things, serves the purpose of engendering conscious beings by connecting agents with the consequences of their actions. The fact that our foundational model of physical systems can be expressed equivalently in discrete or continuous form is considered a Zen-like statement about ultimate reality, which is neigher discrete nor continuous, and both.

Author Bio

With a Ph.D. in German Literature [Tulane, 1972] and an MA in economics [SIU-Carbondale, 1974], working in a score of low-income countries in the 1980s, John Gadway developed expertise in the field now known as microfinance. Today, happily married to his former colleague from Jakarta, Tantri, ne Marbun, he is enjoying a modest retirement as the father of their three teenage sons in his native Homestead, Florida

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joseph markell wrote on Feb. 17, 2011 @ 02:09 GMT
Hello John,

As I scroll through the various entries here, it is rare that I don't learn or like something about an essay.

The quote referenced in you essay by Steven Weinberg, "...that there is something out there, entirely independent of us and our models..." was really cool.

Also, "the steaming bowl of chowder and the frosty mug of beer..."

Good luck to you,

joseph markell

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Gadway replied on Feb. 17, 2011 @ 02:52 GMT
Thanks for the good wishes, Joseph. Your's is the first comment. I felt, not being a physicist, that I was walking into the lion's den. I sent an advance copy to Stephen Weinberg, who answered almost immediately. Although he admitted he had not read it carefully, he found it "sensible." That was a great relief! I would like some competent physicist to really take me to task, to show me where I am missing something fundamental.

John Gadway

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Joseph Markell replied on Feb. 27, 2011 @ 14:12 GMT
Hi John:

I really liked the "feeling" after reading your essay that we as individuals have a bigger role in the universe. My essay also is, different, and I think both of our ideas could be utilized in various ways. Sort of like, "tools."

Your response to my previous comment was very interesting.

Thanks, and again, best of luck.

joseph markell

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John Merryman wrote on Feb. 25, 2011 @ 19:06 GMT

An interesting and thoughtful essay.

A point about time which might tie the properties of the present, physical reality and free will together is that we are looking at it backwards. It's not that the present moves from past to future, but the changing configuration of what is that turns the future into the past. We don't travel the fourth dimension from yesterday to tomorrow, but that tomorrow becomes yesterday because the earth rotates.

Time then is an effect of motion and not the basis for it. While the past to future direction of time is inherently deterministic, since we exist at the point of the present and cannot change the past, or affect the future, an understanding of time as linear sequencing of non-linear action means that our actions are part of the overall mix and just as context affects us, we affect context.

The problem is that the narrative sequencing of events is the basis of our rational thought processes, as we deduce cause from effect. Consider though that all potential input into any event cannot be known prior to its occurrence, since potential input could be arriving from opposite directions at the speed of light, so total cause of any event lies in the future, prior to its occurrence and once it has occurred, the effect, that of the event, recedes into the past. Thus future is cause and past is effect.

There is no need to propose multiworlds as explanation for how deterministic processes yield to potential probabilities, when it is the very collapse of those probabilities which creates the resulting event.

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John Gadway replied on Feb. 26, 2011 @ 12:48 GMT
Thank you for your comment, which I wish you had signed, so I could thank you more personally.

I could not follow all of your analysis because I was not able to tease out your assumptions and definitions. Did you post an essay yourself?

My comment on your's: As far as I can see, you seem to consider the present--an important concept in my analysis--as one-dimensional, that is, as a point or a segment of the time dimension of spacetime. Most people would be inclined to agree with this view. I am arguing, at least in this essay, that the present is a place not confined to spacetime but which is associated with its four dimensions.

Thanks again for your comment.

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John Gadway replied on Feb. 26, 2011 @ 12:52 GMT

John M., you name did not pop up on my screen until after I posted my comment on yours.

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John Merryman replied on Feb. 26, 2011 @ 18:59 GMT

I did post an essay, but since I covered this topic with an entry in the Nature of Time contest, I avoided it this time. It's a topic that I do bring up on the blog discussions at FQXi, so those who participate regularly know my thoughts on the subject.

I wouldn't describe the present as dimensional, because it causes more confusion than it resolves. We treat time as a vector because we experience it as a sequential series of events, but that is an emergent effect of our singular position in a dynamic context. You can't have a dimensionless point in time, as that would require freezing the motion creating the sequencing effect. It would be like trying to take a picture with the shutter speed set at zero. It can't be a segment either, as that would require defining the dimensionless end points. Georgina Parry's essay goes into this quite well.

Temperature is a scalar effect of motion and the differing clock rates described by relativity are essentially an effect of the fact that lower levels of activity slow the rate of change and vice versa, as an accelerated frame slows the internal clock time/level of atomic activity, due to the combination of external velocity and internal activity not exceeding C.

Basically I think we both agree that "that the present is a place not confined to spacetime but which is associated with its four dimensions."

Spacetime is a model, using the speed of light to correlate distance and duration. This doesn't prove they are synonymous. One could use the same logic and ideal gas laws to argue temperature is another parameter of volume, as reducing the volume of a given amount of gas will cause a corresponding rise in its temperature. In this essay, I do touch on how our minds relate the functions of time and temperature.

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Greg Budzban wrote on Feb. 27, 2011 @ 19:01 GMT
Hello John,

After many wonderful conversations with you on this topic, it was great to finally read the beginning of your attempt to put your rich ideas into some coherent structure.

My comments concern points that I would hope you can eventually expand upon and/or clarify.

1) I must admit that, as a mathematical Platonist, mathematical theorems for me are eternal truths which exist independently of my "subjective reality".

On page 2, you describe mathematical facts and scientific laws as examples of items neither exclusively objective nor subjective. What do you mean by this?

2) I completely agree with your statement that the failure of our theories to effectively model the present "exposes their incompleteness".

However, I must admit that your description of the present as "a place outside of spacetime" is unclear to me. Could you clarify?

3) Perhaps this has been said before, but your insightful description of general relativity as "no becoming, only being" and quantum theory as "no objective being, only becoming" was new, and beautiful, to me.

Evoking the still-fresh dialog between Heraclitus and Parmenides is precisely the point here in my opinion, for it is this fundamental tension between change and stasis that leads to all of the critical dichotomies. All of them, discrete/continuous, wave/particle, freedom/determinism, infinite/finite, time/space, past/future etc. are mere shadows of this one fundamental dichotomy.

I'm hoping that a future version of this essay will elaborate further on this point.

4) Finally, and this is not intended to be a criticism, the last two pages are extremely dense with ideas that need to be expanded upon in a future edition. The ideas introduced here are rich indeed, but the exposition is too terse. I have the privilege on having heard them in expanded form, over glasses of good red wine, but your other readers deserve more (of the ideas, not necessarily the wine).

Thanks for taking the time to write this essay.

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John Gadway replied on Feb. 28, 2011 @ 23:14 GMT

Thank you for your careful reading and generous comments. I agree that parts, particularly the last parts, are extremely dense. I was limited by contest rules to 25,000 characters, without spaces. The original essay had perhaps three times that many. At the end, as the deadline drew near, I was combing the essay, looking for things to cut or condense. It was a good exercise. I will expand on those areas you commented on, and others, and look forward to the next face to face over a bottle of red wine.

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Steve Dufourny wrote on Mar. 3, 2011 @ 13:08 GMT
Hello dear John Gadway,

It's full of relevance.

I see also you work in microfinances, do you have contact in Africa helping the very small enterprize.Microfinances +good governance....prosperity+education....harmony.

Good luck and all the best


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John Gadway replied on Mar. 3, 2011 @ 17:10 GMT

You've got to use past tense. I worked quite a bit in Africa in the 1980's--Cameroon, Ghana, [then] Zaire, Lesotho, and in North Africa, Tunisia. I got out of the field just as it was getting hot, after marrying a local counterpart consultant from Jakarta. I was always an independent, short-term consultant, working on projects funded by the World Bank, USAID, GTZ, the IDB [el BID, in Spanish], and so forth. I am the author of something I got tired of explaining called the Fundamental Theorem of Micro-Finance, which is based on the fact that savings and deposit facilities are economic substitutes for each other. Since financial intermediaries use deposit facilities as a source of loanable funds correct relative pricing of the two facilities is extremely important. The FTMF predicts that well-run sustainable financial institutions targeting the "poorest of the poor" with financial services will be cash-rich and in no need of external sources of funds to manage. It is a demand phenomenon not sensitive to interventions on the supply side. It was not a message the donor agencies gearing up to make hundreds of millions of dollars available for micro-loans wanted to hear. But I never had to look for a job. When I would come back from Africa, Bolivia or Bangladesh, there would be new job offers waiting for me. But, like I said, I got tired of being a voice crying in the wilderness.

Oh yes, I loved working in rural Africa. You can have the cities, however. I also got tired of my hair falling out because of the chloroquine, and I got malaria twice [Zaire and Ghana.]

Thanks for the comment!

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Steve Dufourny replied on Mar. 4, 2011 @ 16:46 GMT
if you have a job for me I go , I am here, if you want I have several models and inventions, Here in Belgium frankly I am not useless and my economical situation is catastrophic.In all case , the centralization of universalist scientists seems important.

If I can create a physical base for the sciences center of research,that will be easier for the synergies between systems,we could produce many things.

ps I have invented a global technic against malaria,simple and concrete, natural.

Happy to know you,

Best Regards


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Steve Dufourny replied on Mar. 4, 2011 @ 16:54 GMT
tired of being voices crying in the wilderness...indeed indeed but we must continue and of course the united makes the force.....

Best Brother human and take care


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Lee wrote on Mar. 4, 2011 @ 21:45 GMT
I am not a physicist or familiar with the Standard Model or Einstein's General Theory, so maybe this is the proverbial "stupid" question. The first place where I jump the track in reading is on page 4, where you say "The Standard Model of particle physics, for example, associates each dimensionless point in the four-dimensional spacetime of Einstein's General Theory with a number of smooth geometric objects that are not contained physically within these dimensionless points but somehow external to them and to spacetime, or even 'above them.'"

I think four-dimensional spacetime encompasses an infinite number of dimensionless points, so I assume these are the points you are talking about. But what are those "smooth geometric objects"? Each point is associated with "a number" of geometric objects. How many per point? How big are the objects, and what are their shapes? And what's their function in the model? If I'm being too literal or concrete about this, tell me what's behind the metaphor.

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John Gadway replied on Mar. 9, 2011 @ 17:25 GMT

What I know about the Standard Model and Einstein’s General theory is what I find in books physicists write for laymen like us. Here’s what I understand:

• The space-time of General Relative is a four-dimensional mathematical continuum, R4.

• Einstein’s field equations are based on continuous mathematics.

• Quantum field theory--likewise based on...

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Edwin Eugene Klingman wrote on Mar. 8, 2011 @ 00:55 GMT
John Gadway,

I rather enjoyed your essay. If you were a physicist I would choose to argue a few points with you, but as one who is in it for love of understanding I think you have done very well.

I don't know what level of mathematics you use in micro-finance, but I invite you to read my current essay here.

Depending upon your level of interest I would also invite you to my previous essay Fundamental Physics of Consciousness.

I enjoyed your perspective that treats consciousness as a part of the universe that cannot be ignored by physics. More and more physicists are coming to that view.

Finally I like your comment: "The fact that our foundational theory of physical systems can be expressed equivalently in both digital and analog form may be the closest that science may get to a Zen-like statement about ultimate reality."

Welcome to the fqxi contest, and good luck.

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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John Gadway replied on Mar. 8, 2011 @ 15:38 GMT
Thank you for your comments.

If I could persuade you to take more time to help me see where my limited technical knowledge has led me to misstate alleged facts, I would greatly appreciate it. As I indicated in my response to the first comment, I am hopeful that some competent physicist will take the time to take me to task for any misrepresentations of fact. I feel that I am in an open boat on the high seas without a life preserver.

I will take a look at you essay, since it is a topic that interests me greatly.

As to my [limited] sophistication in math, I had several years of calculus at Tulane MANY years ago as a pre-med chemistry major. I dropped that course of study in my sophomore [pre-med] and junior [chemistry] years, not because I was having trouble with the course work, but for what I guess were psychological reasons. I just couldn't see myself in such well-defined careers. I stayed on at Tulane to get a Ph.D. in German literature as an alternative to getting drafted into the Vietnam war.

After a short stint as a German Professor at SIU I resigned to become a graduate student in Economics, thinking that would get me more in touch with the real world. That's not the direction the focus on micro-economics took, however, which was very mathematical, proving theorems about the behavior of economic man based on axioms that were obviously only remotely connected to the things that motivated me. But it did get me involved again in the study of math. I struggled through a senior level course in the math department on probability theory, eventually getting an A in the course, but without grasping the fact that the probability mathematics dealt with was not the kind of stuff I had hoped to discover. I had naively imagined that probability was somehow real, perhaps like the earlier idea that heat was a real substance that flowed from hot to cold. It was a frustrating, confusing time for me, and I have been struggling to make sense of my intuitions since then. I believe that alternative futures are real in the sense that we make real choices, draining probability from some future events and pouring it into others as we approach superimposed mutually exclusive events. By this measure, even the present has a probable existence, it is just VERY probable, and so does the past. Words don't get us all the way there, but they get us closer than math does. Math is for model-building and map-making, indispensable for technology and for giving us some perspective on what we have to deal with, reality, but models do not comprehend cold beer and hot chowder, which is over here, where we are, in reality.

Oops, I got going.

Thanks again for your comments. I will be sure to take a look at your essay, and may make a comment of my own.

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Edwin Eugene Klingman replied on Mar. 8, 2011 @ 17:55 GMT

I did not mean to imply that you had misstated any alleged facts. I found no such errors in your essay. What I would argue as a physicist is the 'facts' that are alleged.

You correctly state:

"Physical reality is non-local. This recently discovered aspect of reality is further evidence of the illusory nature of physical realty. Spatial separation is clearly not what...

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John Gadway replied on Mar. 9, 2011 @ 17:16 GMT
I down-loaded and read your essay yesterday and was able to follow it enough to realize it deserves re-reading. I will have some comments shortly. I also looked up some of your books on Amazon, and will order one or two.

Thanks for your comments. I hope some of mine on your essay, and on your thoughts in general, will be stimulating.

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Peter Jackson wrote on Mar. 13, 2011 @ 23:02 GMT

Very interesting essay with an original approach. Excellent for a non physicist (which I am strictly too). That's worth a good score in this company.

I hope you might be able to have a last minute read of mine which positively establishes reality, - from a conceptual logic and empirical approach. I hope you get a chance to read it (it's doing well but could do with the points!) as times now running out, but you may be astonished. It's fully consistent with Edwins.

Very best wishes


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John Gadway replied on Mar. 14, 2011 @ 17:34 GMT

I'm on a road trip right now, so could only take a cursory look at your essay, which, naturally, strains my limited mathematical sophistication. But I will take another look at it when I get back to my office next week, too late to contribute an evaluation. Thanks for your comments. I did not enter the contest with any thought of winning, but in the hope I would draw some comment and critique from physicists and mathematicians.

I suspect that only one person has evaluated my essay [Edwin?], which has remained a 7 from the first day a grade appeared.

Thanks again.

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Edwin Eugene Klingman replied on Mar. 14, 2011 @ 22:34 GMT

The scores that show are 'public' scores. When another author rates your essay it is a 'community' score, and these are, at least currently, being hidden.

Edwin Eugene Klingman

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