Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The fqxi time essay contest

At least some readers of this blog will read some of the links, and also other blogs (and phorums) not linked here.

If so it is very probable that they will already know about the fqxi foundation and it´s content about time nature. The actual webpage of the essay is this .

The content, or at least many of the papers appeared when he id the post, has been judged by Jonh Baez, in a post in the n-cathegory coffeé as "crackpot". I find that crackpot obession somewhat,well, crackpot. For example Jonh Baez itsefl, author of the crackpot indicator belongs (whether if he wants or not) to the LQG comunity which is considered crackpot. I think that this crackpotery issue is becoming totally nonsensic and very boring.

Said this, the truth is that some of the published articles are very philosofical (to classify them in some way) and very non phyisical. And, certainly, up to now no heavy weigth of string theory has sended an essay (and he is not expected). Of course there are good reasons for that which can be guessed easilly by anyone who thinks about that a bit.

That is not necesarilly a bad thing and invites to physicians not belonging to the top notch spheres to participate, simply because they have some reasonable possibilities to win (or at least to get some of the secondary primzs). In fact I am aware that some bloggers such as Mitta pitkannen, Cristinhe Dantas (I must add therem egregium to the links sections some day of these), Carle Brannen and, may be, Kea has sended their essays. Among the best known phyisicians are Carlo Rovelly, Rodolfo Gambini and Clauss Kiefer.

In a diferent category i would point to Hrvoje Nikoli, who has some papers in arxiv about string theory (certainly a bit outside of the mainstream of string theory) and, one of the last essays, by his biographycal note I think that he could be considered as an cosmologist in the orbit of the Randall-Sumdrum brane worlds, that is, in a position related to the mainstream of stringy cosmologists.

Also I will make a separate mention of an Spanish competitor, Venerando Solis Barrado. I must say that for good o bad I am somehat responsible of his participation because it was bye mans of me that he knew of the conent. Al i can say is (almost) good luck ;-).

I have readed some of the papers, and I have intention to read most of them, at least the ones written by known people and that have recibed votes and/or responses.

And now the delicate question. Will I participate?

Well, I wasaware for some years on the problem of canonical gravity (wheler-de Witt or LQG) with the problem of no evolution in time. I had readed their guessed solution by means of the relational time. I had readed (as is reflected by some posts on the topic) about wormholes. Womrmholes can work as time machines and peoplee working in wormhles usually make discusion about the topic, including non womrholmy time machines. I had readed about tachyons outside string theory (I guess I have readed most of the relevants papers) and something about tachyon condensation. I had readed various books by Illya Prigogyne aout the arrow of time. And, still worst, I was demanded by a friend to invent a guessed explanation about the amercian film "the butterfly effects" which covers the topic of time travel. That resulted in a toy theory which I like to call "cronoquantum mechanics".

I think that that means that I have a reasonable background in the topic. Reading some of the already published articles I see that I was not aware of some things, but not of too many. Well, physic of time and specially of time travel is a funny topic for fans of science fiction, and I am one of them. That is mainly the reason I have learned about that topics. For a while I tried to develope a litle bit more the "quantum cronomechanics" but I ended up bored of the topic (and I must add that it is a good source to get a headcache to try to think too much about it).

Even thought now there is this content and they pay a good money to the winner, and also there are some secondary prizes which result interesting. Certainly I can live withouth them, but, hey, this blog is freelance quantum gravity, and my other blog is freelance science. The name of the blogs is inspired in the freelance workers in the infomaic market. The idea is easy to understand. In the informatic buisenes there are people who don´t like to work in fixed position in an enterprise (or governement position) and prefer to work as freelances from their homes. I must say that there is a wide market for that sector and that many people in that sector are formers top notch programmers working on well known enterprises who decided to be iindependents.

The physic market, quite on the countrary, is based on an academic/funtionary paradigm. People want to get positions at universities and research institutes and devote to that purpose a lot of effort, from the very begining of their universiary studies. Of course there are good reasons for that, to begin with, tradition.

But if one analyzes the situation the fact is that the model has some serious drawbacks. The academic positions are got by people who has a reasonable expectation of beeing in the charge for around 40 years. That means that he will be blocking that postion for around 8 promotions of students (assuming a promotions takes a romedia of 5 years). It is important to note that universitary positions are permanent and that new universities (specially ones wich need theoretical physics working in that topic) are not created too ofthem.

That means that there is very few possibilities to get a permanent possition. Once this is realized there are two possibilties. To begin a fierce competition from the very begining triying to get the best possible academic quailifications and triying to convence to your teacher that you are the smartes guy since Newton. It is important to note that getting the best qualifitaions relay a lot in learning `rmarly what your teacher decides that is important about a topic. If you decide that you are interested in other aspects of the topic and study them it results ofthem in a worst qualification.

Other possible way is to organize life in a way that you could have reasonable amounts of time working, when possible, in topics related to physics. You can use that time to learn what you prefer. I certainly have opted always by this way. Of course that doesn´t mean that I reject the possibilty to do a PhD and all that. But it would be in maths, I belive that I know too much physics to do a PhD in physics (yeah, it is contradictory).

Well, all this las diegressions it to congratulate the fqxi foundation for their iniciative. To publish a paper requires to do some very specific work,no always fun. And I like to be payed for my work (at least if it is a good work). I mean, I am sure that now I could publish papers on string theory or LQG. Certainlly they would, very probably, would be not too goood papers (ate least not now). But even that papers would requiere good amounts of time. And I wouldn´t get any rewar for them. So i see not point in triying to publish anything if I am not almost sure that it is not crystal clear that would be a top notch paper (a definitve prrof of the AdS/CFT conjecture, the millenium prize in the yang-mills masss gap or things like that). Certainly I think it is not a good idea to depend on that possibiilities.

On the other sie this more modests fqxi prizes are very interesting because they are a more realistic objective which can serve to animte people to do good papers that he woind´t do otherwise.

Ok, a lot of sociology. Am I going to publish a paper in that content?. Well, today I have had an ocurrence for a very nice title for the paper, It would be a mesh to not use it. Most important, I am really tired of the topic of time physics and I think that the best way to never to have to woory about the topic is to publish the paper. But I still dind´t answer (I know that people who know me personally have realized that point perfectlly), shal I try to send a paper to the content? Well, may be, if I have time... ;-).

Update: The deadline for the submition of the paper is over and I still haven´t it ready. Un unfortunate minor illnes has had me down (for purposes of doing serious work) for around a week and that is bad for someone like me that belongs to the "wait last minute" category. If there is some flexibility byt the fqxi comite maybe still it could be some chance. If not I´ll try to put the paper somewhere (once it is finished) in order people could read it (if any is interested).


Matti Pitkanen said...

Fqxi contest is best that has happened in physics for decades. At least in my basically simplistico-optimistic mind it raises the hope that physics has not completely degenerated to a mere political ideology a la standard model and its standard extensions (although it looks so).

Mitta pitkannen;-)

Javier said...

I have been out of internet, and any acttive/usefull activity for a few days because of a minor, but annoying illness.

Now I arrive an see that a very well known and mainly mainstream physicist as Sean Carroll has decided to participate..

I am not sure if afther the conclusion of the contest tehre will be any siginifictive universally accepted advance on the subject but for me it has served as an accicate to tweak some ideas I previously have and to gain notice of releant information.

Unhuappilly I am not sure if I will manage to have my essay ready in time, these 7 days of dealy just in the deadline were very inconvenient.

If at last I don´t participate good luck and hope you get at least one of the 1.000 $ prizes so you could pay Jester if he accepts your chalenge about your interpretation o the CDF anomaly and you wouoldn't win ;-)-