Saturday, June 25, 2011

The wilfull wastefulness of the Foundational Questions Institute

The "Foundational Questions Institute" (FQXi, don't ask about the acronym) recently sponsored an essay question about the nature of reality, specifically whether it is fundamentally digital or analog. Is there, for example, a smallest slice of time? Or, if you suspect time is not fundamental but is some epiphenomena of entanglement, is there a way in which the quantum world is less digital than it seems?

Sponsored essays on speculative physics! Neat idea, and seems right up my ally. Of course FQXi's mission statement must attract a wide "variety" of thinkers (emphases mine) ...

... 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...

Still, the advisory council includes Guth, Bostrom, Barrow, Rees, and Smolin. So I would have tagged them as potentially eccentric, but most likely interesting.

Would have tagged them I say - but not after I actually tried to read one of the winning essays.

It's a PDF. That's bad enough, but it's a PDF of badly scanned document.

This is pure madness. The FQXi is a sad waste.

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