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

Contests Home

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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Susan george: on 6/11/18 at 11:45am UTC, wrote Your billing information will be submitted to your insurance carrier....

John Merryman: on 3/10/11 at 18:30pm UTC, wrote Gary, I don't have the most scientifically trained mind and so have not...

Peter Mastro: on 3/7/11 at 14:53pm UTC, wrote Gary, I loved your essay and its historical perspective. It obviates...

Eckard Blumschein: on 3/6/11 at 1:03am UTC, wrote Here I am still looking in vain for starting points how to possibly get rid...

sridattadev: on 3/4/11 at 20:45pm UTC, wrote Dear Gary, I liked your essay, Architecture of existence. This raises...

basudeba: on 3/4/11 at 13:21pm UTC, wrote Dear Sir, We congratulate you for your brilliant analysis of historical...

Gary Hansen: on 3/2/11 at 22:45pm UTC, wrote Peter Thanks for your gracious comments. We do indeed have many common...

Peter Jackson: on 3/1/11 at 13:31pm UTC, wrote Gary A beautifully philosophical essay. I suppose both being trained as...


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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.

June 4, 2020

CATEGORY: Is Reality Digital or Analog? Essay Contest (2010-2011) [back]
TOPIC: Reality Depends upon How One Defines the Architecture of Existence by Gary Valentine Hansen [refresh]
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Author Gary Valentine Hansen wrote on Feb. 18, 2011 @ 15:44 GMT
Essay Abstract

The hypothesis that reality is digital or analogical is correct insofar as reality may be experienced or expressed in either of these forms, but the implication that reality is either solely digital or solely analogical does not accommodate other possibilities. This limitation may thus be interpreted as a denial that reality is, per se, digital or analogical. The essay expounds upon alternative ways of looking at, and thereby defining, reality.

Author Bio

As a professional architect the natural extension of this interest was to seek an understanding of the architecture of everything else. Drafted into boarding school at the age of four; representing England in an international children’s camp at fifteen; attending the rigorous Outward Bound Sea School at sixteen; exploring Europe alone when a hitchhiker was a conspicuous curiosity; studies in three institutions of higher learning, and travelling to remote corners of the world in the interest of opening the mind – all subscribed to a compulsion to understanding and contributing positively to It: The Architecture of Existence. (849 pages) ISBN 9781857566680

Download Essay PDF File

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Alan Lowey wrote on Feb. 19, 2011 @ 12:23 GMT
Hello Gary, I liked your essay very much. It was informative and easy to read, whilst making valid fundamental points of concern. I share your opinion about the architecture of reality and have an important rediscovery to announce, namely, the Archimedes screw as a model for the graviton. It has both particle and wave properties and can be shown to induce a force of attarction when interacting with other structures. If a wraparound universe is imagined, then this graviton emerges on the otherside as an anti-graviton, i.e. DARK ENERGY. In time, I hope your architect's mind can picture the simplicity of what I'm trying to convey. Newton missed a trick imo. We would never have a spacetime continuum in the English language if Newton had hit on this simple explanation! Nevermind. Best of luck in the competition Gary. Alan

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Gary replied on Feb. 20, 2011 @ 03:53 GMT
Thanks for your good thoughts Alan. By coincidence I have ventured to draw the same conclusion as you with respect to what you call "Archimedes screw" that I simply call a "Helix". This idea is expressed in some detail in "It: The Architecture of Existence", pp.7, 282, 724 and 791. (Please excuse the "plug" for my own book).

With regard to so-called "Dark Energy", I am still quite sceptical. I suspect that whaever energy is "out there" it is reducable to electricity, as I suggest all energy is. You may also be interested in my discussion of Newton's and Einstein's ideas being "upside down". This thesis rests upon the premise that gravity does not exist, but that it is simply a manifestation of "de-natured" (polluted) vacuum. (p. 285).

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Alan Lowey replied on Feb. 20, 2011 @ 11:23 GMT
I'm glad you've hit upon the helix structure as a piece of the reality jigsaw Gary. You mention everything being reducable to electricity. The idea of an electric circuit is the same as a wraparound universe to explain dark energy. If you imagine you are inside a battery with a wire running from one terminal to the other in an electric circuit and now imagine a clockwise turning handle for the positive terminal. Now using your imagination, run that clockwise turning handle all the way around the circuit. When it arrives at the negative terminal, FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE INSIDE OF THE BATTERY, the handle is now turning ANTI-CLOCKWISE. It sounds too simple to say anything, but in actual fact says a hell of a lot. Think about it. The spin of a particle changes when it travels around a circuit. It's the same with a graviton which travels around a hypersphere. It emerges at the end of the circuit spinning in the opposite direction. Think about it a bit. It takes time before the penny drops.

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James Lee Hoover wrote on Feb. 22, 2011 @ 00:05 GMT

Observable truth is not a vision from a single point but rather a composite of visions, reconciled by the minds and intellects of individuals that define reality. The more visions, the greater the potential for a higher, more definitive resolution of the subject as a whole made of parts.

The above seems to suggest analogue to me. Is it my bias?

Your last paragraph says the question is not relevant but made relevant by the answer you want?

Jim Hoover

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Gary replied on Feb. 22, 2011 @ 03:34 GMT
Thanks, I get your point Jim. Perhaps I should have inserted "limited to" between "is not" and "a vision". The point that I was making was that multiple views enhance the data base upon which the premise of a truthful representation rests. A good analogy would be to compare a single snapshot of a sculpture with the multiple impressions that any number of people get from moving around it. I have not opted to deny digital or analagous foundations to reality, but rather to suggest that reality could comprise either or both, or, as you recognized in reading my last paragraph, rest upon elective alternative perceptions by individuals acting alone or in consensus.

To your last question, the theme question "Is Reality Digital or Analog?" - is only relevant if one or both of the options correspond to one's current perception that they are indeed relevant. An infinite line in time or space is neither inherently digital or analogical until we elect to divide it into useful digits, say minutes or feet, solely for the purpose of gaining some advantage. At least one end remains wild and infinite, which makes the definition of reality attending that line a hybrid.

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Susan george replied on Jun. 11, 2018 @ 11:45 GMT
Your billing information will be submitted to your insurance carrier. Either you or Urgent Care Clinic West New Yorkshould receive an explanation of benefits form detailing what was paid, denied or due from you. The approximate wait time for the explanation of benefits is within thirty days.

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John Vilett wrote on Feb. 23, 2011 @ 01:58 GMT

You know by now that I have great difficulty in following your reasoning and decoding your personal language, and therefore I will refrain from attempting to respond to your carefully crafted essay in any detail.

However I certainly agree with your conclusion that everything is relative (particularly everything we like to think of as objective). Relativity demands context for meaning, and the required context for this question is the set of ontological and epistemological premises in the mind of the questioner. Shy of that information, the question is not answerable.

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Andrew Beckwith wrote on Feb. 24, 2011 @ 20:53 GMT

Progress in human knowledge marches into virtual novelty whereby each step appears to clarify the picture but belies the constancy of inexactitude that prevails in the impressionist landscape of reality.

end of quote

What does impressinist landscape of reality have to do with either digital or analog foundation questions?


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Gary Hansen replied on Feb. 24, 2011 @ 22:03 GMT

If you extend the quote for another seven words to include "Knowledge is a state of relative enlightenment", the answer to your question is suggested by the emergence of the idea that "reality" may not be capable of being represented in absolute terms by reference to digital, analogical, or any other formal foundation.

My Reference No.3 elaborates upon the notion of "impressions" vis a vis "expressions" of reality, as follows:

"In Philosophies des Als Ob Vaihinger argued that human beings can never really know the underlying reality of the world, and that as a result we construct systems of thought and then assume that these match reality: we behave "as if" the world matches our models. In particular, he used examples from the physical sciences, such as protons, electrons, and electromagnetic waves. None of these phenomena have been observed directly, but science pretends that they exist, and uses observations made on these assumptions to create new and better constructs."

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Peter Jackson wrote on Mar. 1, 2011 @ 13:31 GMT

A beautifully philosophical essay. I suppose both being trained as Architects (and I'm also a yachtsman) our thought patterns are broader yet match more closely together than most.

I've extended your question of the Catesian point to include the also non existent line, so useful as an abstraction of a boundary in Architecture. But you and I can't just theorise, we have to build things. Einstein specified the x,y,z as attached to a BODY, a 3D entity, and maths abstracted and lost that reality.

I hope you'll read my essay because just that correction can re-unite Relativity and QM, but it needs a very logical not mathematical mind to follow the empirical reasoning. But if you do, please read it slowly and take in the implications or the ground shaking conclusion will not build.

You must be able to visualise and manipulate a number of moving volumes and observers in your mind, which perhaps only architects can do successfully. Please do ask questions if you need to. In any case I feel worth are both worth a good score and hope you agree.

Best wishes


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Gary Hansen wrote on Mar. 2, 2011 @ 22:45 GMT

Thanks for your gracious comments.

We do indeed have many common interests; the UK, conscientious objection, architecture, philosophy, physics, yachting - and writing essays!

Picking up on your point that you and I can't just theorise, we have 'to build things', this is certainly so in the field of architecture. In the realms of mathematics and physics the imperative seems to be the need 'to prove things'.

However, each profession relies upon philosophy to guide it in taking succeeding steps into the unknown as articles of faith.

For myself, ideas are infinitely more attractive than explanations. I wrestle with them until I see light at the end of the tunnel, at which point I tend to lose interest and take on another - but then I have little vested interest in exploiting self-defined realities to my personal advantage.

I shall pick up on discussion of your essay in a 'post' under your title shortly.

Hopefully we will 'talk' again. Good luck!


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basudeba wrote on Mar. 4, 2011 @ 13:21 GMT
Dear Sir,

We congratulate you for your brilliant analysis of historical developments and guided tour of the reality domain.

Unfortunately, we have deviated widely from the concept of Descartes that “a clear understanding of the nature of each part, its relation to other parts and the sequence by which the parts needed to be assembled in order to arrive at the intended end...

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sridattadev wrote on Mar. 4, 2011 @ 20:45 GMT
Dear Gary,

I liked your essay, Architecture of existence. This raises the question who is the architect? On close examination it translates to Who am I? I or Singularity in all of us "is" the architect of existence. If you are interested you can find the article Theory of everything that I have submitted in this contest. I wish you all the best in your pursuit of truth.



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Eckard Blumschein wrote on Mar. 6, 2011 @ 01:03 GMT
Here I am still looking in vain for starting points how to possibly get rid of paradoxes and inconsistencies in theories. Shouldn't we question the most fundamental tenets with the intention to find out obvious mistakes?

Dear Gary,

According to my reasoning, the concept of block-spacetime is logically flawed as I explained appendix C of 833 and in my recent reply to John Merryman. Do you consider it part of the architecture?



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Peter Mastro wrote on Mar. 7, 2011 @ 14:53 GMT

I loved your essay and its historical perspective. It obviates that humanities quest to understand his surroundings is ultimately an attempt to understand what we ourselves are.

Thanks for writing it.


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John Merryman wrote on Mar. 10, 2011 @ 18:30 GMT

I don't have the most scientifically trained mind and so have not finished reading as many of these essays as I've started, but I did read yours through to the end. It is a quite professional and well written examination of the the history and context of physics, but sort of fades when coming to the question of what is next. In the blogs discussions at FQXI, there are a number of...

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