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An idea: Another Physics Forums Side Project.

  1. Nov 3, 2003 #1

    Another God

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    Greg....hmmm...how do I go about this. hehehe.... Um, thanks to a thread that I was participating in several months ago, I have had this idea in my head which I think would be an incredibly ....brilliant thing to happen. But it will be hard to make happen. I knew straight away that it would be a bit of a task to make it happen, and had no idea how to go about making it happen. Ironically I never thought of approaching you (even though the idea came from this website... )

    So now you are curious...what is this idea? Well, the basic idea is to set up "Public Arenas" where the two (or even three if need be) most knowledgable people from some particular fields are left to log in and debate with each other. When I say most knowledgable, I mean litterally that: I mean we find someone who is, say, really knowledgeable about physics and we ask them: "Who is the most respected physicist alive today who advocates theory X?" Take a simple poll, and figure out who the most respected leaders of each field is. Figure out what areas of contention in the various fields are, and find representatives of these fields, request their participation, and let them debate it out, at their own free will.

    We set this up for every field and ever topic which has any sort of valid contention in it. I don't know what contentions will be included (I'm not really knowledgeable about anything enough to sugest them, but to give a vague idea of what I am talking about: Dawkins camp vs Gould camp debate. Idealism vs Realism. Quark vs String (or whatever I don't know physics well enough :p) But anyway, you get the idea.

    So, we figure out the fields where there is a real contention between the leading people, and we give them the opportunity to debate it out between themselves, without interference from anyone (at their own will, with no deadlines etc, and only they are able to participate in that particular arena), all the time while the public can log in at any time and read what has been written: The public can watch the debate.
    Connected to each arena there would be set up a "Public Discussion Forum" where the public can discuss what the professionals are saying, discuss what they think etc....

    So that is the basic idea. If you like it so far, we can discuss more details, play with the idea, refine it, and in the end I hope (this is my little dream) make a really big deal out of it. In my mind, this will become a 5 or 10 yearly event in which people will feel incredibly priveledged to represent their field, and do their best to express exactly why what they believe is true. Idealistically, this will become a world renowned website, and respected worldwide as a monument to the advancement of the knowledge of the human race...

    Why I came to you (and PF as a community) with this idea:
    I had no idea who on earth you could approach with this idea. The only thing I could think of would be to simply do it myself (and I would like at the very least to be a part of it), but I realised that you greg, and the community of brilliant people we have here is the perfect place to start! Why? Because you know how to make great websites. You have some great experience in this field, and you make stuff happen. I love it. As well as that, we need to
    1. Figure out what topics are worthy of professional discussion
    2. Need to figure out who will represent the opposing sides of each discussion

    And there are a whole range of people present in these very forums who have enough experience in various fields to start discussing these ideas and figure it out. These people will alos know the true representatives of those particular beliefs etc. And with this knowledge base we have here, we can start getting a foothold on this giant task.

    Combined, this may all actually happen.

    So: What do you think? If you are at all interested, then lets discuss this more indepth. I have some really well thought out ideas on this, but we need to figure it all out together...


  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 3, 2003 #2

    Another God

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    PS: I should control myself when I get a little excited I seem to lose all control over my sentence structure etc and end up making no sense at all.
  4. Nov 3, 2003 #3
    I love the idea, however it would be nothing short of a miracle to persuade some top notch scientists to participate in debates here. I have tried in the past and it seems they just are involved in their research and activities.
  5. Nov 4, 2003 #4

    Another God

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    I can understad that, but I don't think you grasp the nature of how big I am thinking yet. The whole point is that this idea isn't really to do with physics Forums (other than the current obvious role), but instead this idea is a website and a phenomenon all of its own.

    I realise now that I named this thread completely wrong. This idea isn't really a side project of Physics Forums (although, once again, the start up process would need to be if it was to happen), but another idea altogether.

    If you do truley love the idea, then we should discuss it more through email or something (although this medium is just as good and people can express opinions if they wish to) (whatever). To give u an idea of what I have in mind:

    The website will basically be the embodiment of the idea. The idea is to take a snapshot of human advancement and human problem solving. The idea may be turned into a non-profit organisation or something if need be... (not sure, business and company stuff isn't my field of knowledge.) and it could be named "Forefront Institute" (or whatever). After sorting out what topics are at the forefront of modern contention and who are the leading representatives of those fields, we simultaneously email very personalised letters to every individual we want to participate explaining the situation to them. We give them links to the site showing them a professional looking well organised website. We explain the idea, the role they are playing, and who they will be debating against. (Of course giving them options to recommend changes.) We make it clear that the idea is to take a snapshot of where human thought is up to at this particular date. These people are being chosen to represent human knowledge, not only in a public arena as a drawn out debate, but more importantly, as something which will be archived and stored for the sake of history.

    The idea is that we will organise this event to start at a specific time. january 1st 2005 for instance. And then it is allowed to go for as long as the debates feel necessary (until they have reached resolution/Until they realise they are making no ground/Until whatever. There is no time limit) And then these debates are left there on the website while the public are also allowed to discuss this stuff the whole time at their own will. And thats how it will basically stay for several years, until the next scheduled debate, 10 years later. I think 10 years seems like a reasonable amount of time to 1. let new ideas arise. 2. let the ideas develop 3. let the debators themselves (who may not be the same (probably won't)) not feel obliged into something regular....

    Anyway, hopefully you are grasping the enormity of my thoughts now, and I hope even moreso that this idea is as exciting to you as it is to me. (The biggest problem i actually see, is the man hours required to make it happen. It will require dedication and effort , probably at little/no reward. : I get the impression u know all about that though!)

    With such potential to become a well respected well renowned culmination of a decades progress in the sciences/philosophy/politics....whatever, I hope that attracting the leading thinkers of each field will not be quite so difficult. Even so, I am sure that the first run may not be quite as succesful as hoped: but over time it will get better.

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