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Foundational Questions fq(x) Smolin and Wilcek on board

  1. Oct 5, 2005 #1

    marcus

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    Foundational Questions fq(x) Smolin and Wilczek on board

    http://www.fqxi.org/who.html

    Lee Smolin and Frank Wilczek are on the scientific advisory board of a new foundation, agency, research mission, project---not too sure what it is yet.

    Thanks to Peter Woit for alerting us to the launching of "fq(x)" or also written FQX.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2005
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  3. Oct 5, 2005 #2

    marcus

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    here is the homepage:
    http://www.fqxi.org/index.html

    the logo is elaborate and involves a circle of icons activating circular chain of fundamental questions


    starting from a question about the smallest, go to the largest, and then to intelligent life and consciousness, to information, and back to the smallest

    put the cursor on each icon in the circle, to read the question


    there is also a menu:
    1. about FQX----another way of writing the jazzy name fq(x)
    2. who we are
    3. get involved
    4. news and events.....and so on

    I think world class website design----information presentation talent---has been employed here

    the three young co-directors are

    Max Tegmark (MIT, used to be Penn State till 2004, precision cosmology plus other more speculative)

    Tony Aguirre (UC Santa Cruz, cosmology and astrophysics)

    Kirsten Hubbard (creative ideas in physics education, science communication)

    the parentheses are my guesses about their interest and activity
     
  4. Oct 5, 2005 #3

    marcus

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    FQX is being launched at a big international prestige conference that starts at UC Berkeley tomorrow.

    "Amazing Light: Visions for Discovery" symposium in honor of Charles Townes.

    This Townes Conference 6-8 October, is being attended by some 18 Nobel laureates, including the recent ones Roy Glauber and Ted Hänsch
    ====================

    Here are some links:

    Homepage:
    http://www.foundationalquestions.net/townes/symposium.asp


    Summary of Program:
    http://www.foundationalquestions.net/townes/symp_over.asp
    (Three days: 1. major unknowns, 2. possible new technology, 3. future of science plus fringe questions connected to philosophy and religion)

    Day 1: "The Ocean of Truth—-- Exploring the Great Unknowns in Physics and Cosmology"
    http://www.foundationalquestions.net/townes/symp_day1.asp
    "We...consider the astonishing fact that no one understands the source of most of the gravitational interaction in the universe: What is dark matter? What is dark energy? What is the nature of a vacuum?..."

    Day 2: "New Windows to Discovery--Exploring Possibilities for Innovative Technologies"
    http://www.foundationalquestions.net/townes/symp_day2.asp
    "What new technologies can emerge from advances in pursuing the frontier of quantum knowledge?"

    Day 3: "The 'Big Picture'--Exploring Questions on the Boundaries of Science"
    http://www.foundationalquestions.net/townes/symp_day3.asp
    "How can progress be made in the quest for "ultimate explanations" in cosmology? Is the universe a purposive order? What are the logical dynamics of the "3-M circle" of ultimate explanation--Mind-Math-Matter?..."

    Note the religious or purposive Design spin. Templeton money funding the conference.

    =======================
    Whatever comes of this threeday Nobel studded conference, Max Tegmark will be there and they will be UNVEILING FQX to the eyes of bigtime media and a presumably admiring world. Good time and place to launch.

    I like Lee Smolin. I think he has principles and common sense. Wilczek too. Close to how I think creative physicists should be. So what I see is at least for now those two people are NOT making a big noise at the possibly silly prestige media-event Templeton-funded syposium. But THEY NEVERTHELESS ARE ON THE ADVISORY BOARD OF the newly created FQX project or whatever it is. Max Tegmark could have done a lot worse than get Smolin and Wilczek on his advisory board.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2005
  5. Oct 5, 2005 #4

    marcus

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    I think I will forget about the threeday conference-----a lot of speculation by people like Leonard Susskind and Michio Kaku----it will make a splash which will then go away.

    But FQX could be interesting. The logo consists of 12 icons in a circle. Touching each icon makes appear a question

    12 oclock question is: what is dark energy?

    1 oclock: what is dark matter?

    2 oclock: how fine tuned is the universe?

    3: how rare are habitable planets? (note the anthropic or even Design skew, coming right after the 2 oclock question, however it is an interesting one to ask)

    4: can we understand consciousness better?

    5: is information at the heart of physics?

    6: is life ubiquitous?

    7: how should we interpret quantum mechanics?

    8: whence the constants of nature?

    9: can quantum mechanics be reconciled with gravity?

    10: are there other universes?

    11: what happened before the big bang?

    and so back around the circle to 12 oclock again: what is dark energy?
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2005
  6. Oct 5, 2005 #5

    marcus

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    A new concept-----something oddly akin to PHYSICSFORUMS, in a way----but also with its hand out to institutional donors who want to support science.

    And it gives out MINIGRANTS, and it plans to set up CONTESTS like essay-writing contests. A way of getting young people, as well as academics, involved in thinking about fundamental questions.

    It is not exactly a foundation. they call it a PROJECT.

    And Kirsten Hubbard is the daytoday "Project Manager"

    It looks to me, first of all, like an internet/media TOOL to stimulate and channel interest in fundamental questions in physics and cosmology.

    It looks like a slightly different animal. Like a foundation, but maybe not exactly the way one imagines a foundation.

    It is going to have DISCUSSION MESSAGE BOARDS. But they might not be open to the general public for posting. The general public may only get to read---and be thereby edified---while the elect get to post. I don't know about this but however it is done there will be message boards and in fact there ALREADY IS ONE at the FQX site

    http://forums.foundationalquestions.net/public/forums/
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2005
  7. Oct 5, 2005 #6

    marcus

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    Peter Woit has an update that gives the amount of seed money Templeton provided, and some other details I didn't know.
    http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=273

    ======update at N.E.W.======
    Update: The fq(x) website has just appeared. On the whole the project seems more sensible and free of religious nonsense than I had feared. It is being run by Tegmark, assisted by astronomer Anthony Aguirre. The advisory board consists of real physicists (Barrow, Rees, Silverstein, Smolin, Wilczek and Zeh), not religion and science people. It looks like the Templeton Foundation has provided $5 million in seed money, to be spent over 4 years, with the idea that after 4 years the project would have attracted funding from elsewhere. They will announce the first competition for grants on December 1. Grants will be awarded based on “a competitive process of expert peer review similar to that employed by national scientific funding agencies, and will target research unlikely to be otherwise funded by conventional sources.” They hope to “Expand the purview of scientific inquiry to include scientific disciplines fundamental to a deep understanding of reality, but which are currently largely unsupported by conventional grant sources.” I wonder what kind of research they have in mind to fund that isn’t getting funded by the current sources of funding, that will be interesting to see."
    ===endquote===

    So it is 5 million to be spent over 4 years----after which other foundations or sources of funding.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2005
  8. Oct 5, 2005 #7
    f***ing awesome!

    takin' it to the streets!
     
  9. Oct 6, 2005 #8
    This looks wonderful, a dream come true. I will watch with great interest, and wish the founders, members, and potential participants the best success. Thanks for being here! And thanks, Marcus, for alerting us to this fascinating new organization.

    Richard
     
  10. Nov 30, 2005 #9

    marcus

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    look at the new paper called "Dimensionless Constants"
    http://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0511774
    it lists values for 31 of the most basic parameters of reality

    the authors are all connected with FQX
    http://www.fqxi.org/who.html

    FQX is starting to give out money, it is a new foundation (spawned by Templeton) which sometime soon (likely next week or month) starts taking proposals and requests for funding

    the focus is on "foundational questions" (as the letters fq(x) suggest)

    the basic fundamental question of "why this universe?" is basically
    to EXPLAIN THE 31 NUMBERS

    so this new paper by Tegmark, Wilczek, Aguirre, Rees is appearing at an opportune moment because it defines the focus of the new agency which opening its doors almost as if the appearence of the paper was timed

    Tegmark and Aguirre are the FQX director and associate director (in a troika with a manager as third)

    the other two authors, Wilczek and Rees, are members of FQX science advisory board

    The FQ(X) website says tentatively January 2006 for when they will issue instructions for how to apply for grants.
    A couple of weeks ago Peter Woit said the announcement might be 1 December 2005.
    http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=297
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2005
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