It From Bit or Bit From It

Author: Anthony Aguirre
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 3319129465
Format: PDF, Mobi
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The essays in this book look at the question of whether physics can be based on information, or – as John Wheeler phrased it – whether we can get “It from Bit”. They are based on the prize-winning essays submitted to the FQXi essay competition of the same name, which drew over 180 entries. The eighteen contributions address topics as diverse as quantum foundations, entropy conservation, nonlinear logic and countable spacetime. Together they provide stimulating reading for all physics aficionados interested in the possible role(s) of information in the laws of nature. The Foundational Questions Institute, FQXi, catalyzes, supports, and disseminates research on questions at the foundations of physics and cosmology, particularly new frontiers and innovative ideas integral to a deep understanding of reality, but unlikely to be supported by conventional funding sources.

Trick or Truth

Author: Anthony Aguirre
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 3319274953
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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The prize-winning essays in this book address the fascinating but sometimes uncomfortable relationship between physics and mathematics. Is mathematics merely another natural science? Or is it the result of human creativity? Does physics simply wear mathematics like a costume, or is math the lifeblood of physical reality? The nineteen wide-ranging, highly imaginative and often entertaining essays are enhanced versions of the prize-winning entries to the FQXi essay competition “Trick or Truth”, which attracted over 200 submissions. The Foundational Questions Institute, FQXi, catalyzes, supports, and disseminates research on questions at the foundations of physics and cosmology, particularly new frontiers and innovative ideas integral to a deep understanding of reality, but unlikely to be supported by conventional funding sources.

Trick or Truth

Author: Anthony Aguirre
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 3319274953
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
Download Now
The prize-winning essays in this book address the fascinating but sometimes uncomfortable relationship between physics and mathematics. Is mathematics merely another natural science? Or is it the result of human creativity? Does physics simply wear mathematics like a costume, or is math the lifeblood of physical reality? The nineteen wide-ranging, highly imaginative and often entertaining essays are enhanced versions of the prize-winning entries to the FQXi essay competition “Trick or Truth”, which attracted over 200 submissions. The Foundational Questions Institute, FQXi, catalyzes, supports, and disseminates research on questions at the foundations of physics and cosmology, particularly new frontiers and innovative ideas integral to a deep understanding of reality, but unlikely to be supported by conventional funding sources.

Mindful Universe

Author: Henry P. Stapp
Publisher: Springer Science & Business Media
ISBN: 9783642180767
Format: PDF, ePub
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The classical mechanistic idea of nature that prevailed in science during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was an essentially mindless conception: the physically described aspects of nature were asserted to be completely determined by prior physically described aspects alone, with our conscious experiences entering only passively. During the twentieth century the classical concepts were found to be inadequate. In the new theory, quantum mechanics, our conscious experiences enter into the dynamics in specified ways not fixed by the physically described aspects alone. Consequences of this radical change in our understanding of the connection between mind and brain are described. This second edition contains two new chapters investigating the role of quantum phenomena in the problem of free will and in the placebo effect.

Questioning the Foundations of Physics

Author: Anthony Aguirre
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 3319130455
Format: PDF, ePub
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The essays in this book look at way in which the fundaments of physics might need to be changed in order to make progress towards a unified theory. They are based on the prize-winning essays submitted to the FQXi essay competition “Which of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong?”, which drew over 270 entries. As Nobel Laureate physicist Philip W. Anderson realized, the key to understanding nature’s reality is not anything “magical”, but the right attitude, “the focus on asking the right questions, the willingness to try (and to discard) unconventional answers, the sensitive ear for phoniness, self-deception, bombast, and conventional but unproven assumptions.” The authors of the eighteen prize-winning essays have, where necessary, adapted their essays for the present volume so as to (a) incorporate the community feedback generated in the online discussion of the essays, (b) add new material that has come to light since their completion and (c) to ensure accessibility to a broad audience of readers with a basic grounding in physics. The Foundational Questions Institute, FQXi, catalyzes, supports, and disseminates research on questions at the foundations of physics and cosmology, particularly new frontiers and innovative ideas integral to a deep understanding of reality, but unlikely to be supported by conventional funding sources.

Information and Interaction

Author: Ian T. Durham
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 3319437607
Format: PDF, Mobi
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In this essay collection, leading physicists, philosophers, and historians attempt to fill the empty theoretical ground in the foundations of information and address the related question of the limits to our knowledge of the world. Over recent decades, our practical approach to information and its exploitation has radically outpaced our theoretical understanding - to such a degree that reflection on the foundations may seem futile. But it is exactly fields such as quantum information, which are shifting the boundaries of the physically possible, that make a foundational understanding of information increasingly important. One of the recurring themes of the book is the claim by Eddington and Wheeler that information involves interaction and putting agents or observers centre stage. Thus, physical reality, in their view, is shaped by the questions we choose to put to it and is built up from the information residing at its core. This is the root of Wheeler’s famous phrase “it from bit.” After reading the stimulating essays collected in this volume, readers will be in a good position to decide whether they agree with this view.

The Seneca Effect

Author: Ugo Bardi
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 3319572075
Format: PDF, Mobi
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The essence of this book can be found in a line written by the ancient Roman Stoic Philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca: "Fortune is of sluggish growth, but ruin is rapid". This sentence summarizes the features of the phenomenon that we call "collapse," which is typically sudden and often unexpected, like the proverbial "house of cards." But why are such collapses so common, and what generates them? Several books have been published on the subject, including the well known "Collapse" by Jared Diamond (2005), "The collapse of complex societies" by Joseph Tainter (1998) and "The Tipping Point," by Malcom Gladwell (2000). Why The Seneca Effect? This book is an ambitious attempt to pull these various strands together by describing collapse from a multi-disciplinary viewpoint. The reader will discover how collapse is a collective phenomenon that occurs in what we call today "complex systems," with a special emphasis on system dynamics and the concept of "feedback." From this foundation, Bardi applies the theory to real-world systems, from the mechanics of fracture and the collapse of large structures to financial collapses, famines and population collapses, the fall of entire civilzations, and the most dreadful collapse we can imagine: that of the planetary ecosystem generated by overexploitation and climate change. The final objective of the book is to describe a conclusion that the ancient stoic philosophers had already discovered long ago, but that modern system science has rediscovered today. If you want to avoid collapse you need to embrace change, not fight it. Neither a book about doom and gloom nor a cornucopianist's dream, The Seneca Effect goes to the heart of the challenges that we are facing today, helping us to manage our future rather than be managed by it.

Strange Matters

Author: Tom Siegfried
Publisher: Joseph Henry Press
ISBN: 0309500583
Format: PDF
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Scientists studying the universe find strange things in two places—out in space and in their heads. This is the story of how the most imaginative physicists of our time perceive strange features of the universe in advance of the actual discoveries. It is almost a given that physics and cosmology present us with some of the grandest mysteries of all. What weightier questions to ponder than, "How does the universe work?" or "What is the universe made of?" There are any number of bizarre phenomena that could provide clues or even answers to these queries. The strangeness ranges from unusual forms of matter and realms of existence to wild ideas about how time and space are related to one another. Many of these proposals may well turn out to be wrong. But how many will be proven to be right? This book speaks for the scientific theorists who are bold enough to imagine and predict the impossible. New ideas are percolating in their heads every day. One physicist may dream of subatomic particles that could resolve a variety of cosmological conundrums while another may study the likes of "funny energy," which may explain how rapidly the universe is expanding. This is the stuff of Strange Matters. In broad terms, this book is about a variety of discoveries that theorists of the past imagined before the observers and experimenters actually saw them. Moreover, it is about the things that today’s are now imagining—but haven't yet been discovered or confirmed by the observers. Strange Matters artfully mixes the present with the past and future, reporting from the frontiers of research where history is in the process of being made. Each chapter examines a different step along the twisted path we've walked to gain our rudimentary understanding of the universe, incorporating historical examples of successful "prediscoveries" with current stories that relate brand new ideas. We come to see the universe not only in terms of what has already been discovered, but also in terms of what has yet to be observed. Strange Matters is a guide to the discoveries of the twenty-first century, a series of visions dreamt by the most imaginative scientists of our time merged with the achievements of the past—to point the way towards even greater accomplishments of the future.

Information and Interaction

Author: Ian T. Durham
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 3319437607
Format: PDF, Docs
Download Now
In this essay collection, leading physicists, philosophers, and historians attempt to fill the empty theoretical ground in the foundations of information and address the related question of the limits to our knowledge of the world. Over recent decades, our practical approach to information and its exploitation has radically outpaced our theoretical understanding - to such a degree that reflection on the foundations may seem futile. But it is exactly fields such as quantum information, which are shifting the boundaries of the physically possible, that make a foundational understanding of information increasingly important. One of the recurring themes of the book is the claim by Eddington and Wheeler that information involves interaction and putting agents or observers centre stage. Thus, physical reality, in their view, is shaped by the questions we choose to put to it and is built up from the information residing at its core. This is the root of Wheeler’s famous phrase “it from bit.” After reading the stimulating essays collected in this volume, readers will be in a good position to decide whether they agree with this view.

Wandering Towards a Goal

Author: Anthony Aguirre
Publisher: Springer
ISBN: 3319757261
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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This collection of prize-winning essays addresses the controversial question of how meaning and goals can emerge in a physical world governed by mathematical laws. What are the prerequisites for a system to have goals? What makes a physical process into a signal? Does eliminating the homunculus solve the problem? The three first-prize winners, Larissa Albantakis, Carlo Rovelli and Jochen Szangolies tackle exactly these challenges, while many other aspects (agency, the role of the observer, causality versus teleology, ghosts in the machine etc.) feature in the other award winning contributions. All contributions are accessible to non-specialists. These seventeen stimulating and often entertaining essays are enhanced versions of the prize-winning entries to the FQXi essay competition in 2017.The Foundational Questions Institute, FQXi, catalyzes, supports, and disseminates research on questions at the foundations of physics and cosmology, particularly new frontiers and innovative ideas integral to a deep understanding of reality, but unlikely to be supported by conventional funding sources.