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Hypothetical question on academia: credit and copyright vs ethics.

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Main Question or Discussion Point

Lets presuppose that you are a philosophy major, or a psychology major, or something else and through logic and creativity you have what you believe to be a universal field theory. Please put all likeliness of this situation aside and lets assume there is a very very good chance your theory could be proven/explained . Do you......

A. Take 6-15 years out of your life to get the credentials necessary to prove and copyright your works and be published in peer review journals. Human productivity has been halted because of the wait but you will get full credit, unless someone writes the paper first.

B. Do some research anywhere from 3-8 years without the necessary credentials and hope somehow you can get published and credited with the work. Humanity still delayed but not as bad. (Or maybe humanity is delayed even more because the populous only trusts "credentialed" physicists that are part of the "system". ??)

C. Find a trust worthy physicist to go over your ideas and maybe they'll wright the math for you lol. Shared credit??

D. Something else.

Thanks for your input in advance.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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C. Find a trust worthy physicist to go over your ideas and maybe they'll wright the math for you lol. Shared credit??
Well if you don't have the math sorted out then certainly do not have even the beginning of some unified field theory .
 
  • #3
Pengwuino
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The theory is the math. If your theory can't make quantifiable predictions predictions, then it is worthless and not a theory at all.
 
  • #4
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The theory is the math. If your theory can't make quantifiable predictions predictions, then it is worthless and not a theory at all.
OK lets assume that you have the understanding of relationships.. math shows relationships and its formulas use relationships. lets assume that you have the understanding of some higher math but you do not speak the language as it is spoken to other people. Also. lets assume you have empirical observations and can explain them in such a way that you know what needs to be done but you yourself can not do it as of yet. So through empiricism and imagination you have discovered relationships/potential relationships which "scream to you" this has to be the way the universe is. Lets accept the fact that a hypothesis created by someone who is far removed from its respective field is a possibility.
 
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  • #5
Pengwuino
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OK lets assume that you have the understanding of relationships.. math shows relationships and its formulas use relationships. lets assume that you have the understanding of higher math but you do not speak the language.
If you can't DO math, you don't KNOW math.

I understand how a car works, that doesn't make me an automotive engineer nor capable of creating the next generation of super-efficient automobiles simply because I know "this is how cars should be".

Also . lets assume you have empirical observations and can explain them in such a way that you know what needs to be done but you yourself can not do it as of yet. So through empiricism and imagination you have discovered relationships/potential relationships which "scream to you" this has to be the way the universe is
Can you make predictions? Quantitative predictions? Explain every known experiment ever done using your theory?

If not, that is not science.
 
  • #6
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So, what is your theory?

I'm in a similar situation as the one you're describing, but so would half the board here probably be. I think I''ll be going to the physicist if I've got all the details completely worked out, as there is probably just something obvious I'm missing. You'd probably be wise to do the same, at least on a basic level, ask the physicist what he feels about your work, if he thinks it's good as you think it is, try to get it published as a hypothesis, let the community work the math and all the details out completely. If responses in the community are positive: keep working on it. If nobody wants to hear you:make more noise. If the responses are negative: drop it, rebuild it, or show everyone why they're wrong.
 
  • #7
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If you can't DO math, you don't KNOW math.

I understand how a car works, that doesn't make me an automotive engineer nor capable of creating the next generation of super-efficient automobiles simply because I know "this is how cars should be".



Can you make predictions? Quantitative predictions? Explain every known experiment ever done using your theory?

If not, that is not science.
Ok if you say that in regards to me using the word "theory" then that makes sense, but can someone have a hypothesis that needs to be tested based on epirical data/findings?
let me rephrase then. I think you may have taken my use of theory to literal. lets change it to hypothesis. Certainly a hypothesis can be worth something? Lets assume the person simply needs help testing it.
to remove all other doubt lets assume that the hypothesis is absolutely correct. Now that that parameter is fixed... what would you do in that situation.
 
  • #8
Matterwave
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I think the overwhelmingly smallness of the possibility that a person far removed from the field of physics coming up with a "unified field theory" (a task which even Einstein, with all his physical training, could not accomplish) would make it very hard to justify him spending 15 years of his life going back to learn Physics.

This would be akin to a person who never touched a musical instrument in his life, and never studied music, going to the piano with a piece of paper and pencil and spontaneously composing all 9 of Beethoven's symphonies from scratch.

This is not to say that "laypeople" cannot have good ideas on physics. But a "unified field theory" seems like an impossible stretch.
 
  • #9
AlephZero
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OK lets assume that you have the understanding of relationships.. math shows relationships and its formulas use relationships. lets assume that you have the understanding of some higher math but you do not speak the language as it is spoken to other people.
You don't seem to understand what "math" is, at this level.

I can still remember my first ever tutorial (two students, one tutor) of my math degree at Cambridge. The topic was group theory, and because of the vagaries of the timetable, the first tutorial was the day BEFORE the first lecture.

After a bit of small talk, the tutor asked "so do you two already know the definition of a group". I answered "I think so". The response was , "**********, either you do or you don't. Yes or No?".

IMO without some "real" math, you don't have anything, apart from an idea to chat about over a drink.
 
  • #10
Choppy
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Alright, for argument's sake let's say that you're extremely intelligent and that you've come up with some grand theory of the universe.

If you ever want it to be more than just a clever idea, you need to be able to:
- have confidence there are no obvious holes or self-consistent loops in it
- communicate it properly,
- compare it with other exisiting theories,
- understand what's unique about it and why no one else has thought of it before, and
- present it to the academic community such that it can be tested in a quantitative manner.

The only practical way to do this is to go through the academic system and learn how to do all these things.

Humanity will be just fine for the decade or so that it takes you to do this.
 
  • #11
ZapperZ
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OK lets assume that you have the understanding of relationships.. math shows relationships and its formulas use relationships. lets assume that you have the understanding of some higher math but you do not speak the language as it is spoken to other people. Also. lets assume you have empirical observations and can explain them in such a way that you know what needs to be done but you yourself can not do it as of yet. So through empiricism and imagination you have discovered relationships/potential relationships which "scream to you" this has to be the way the universe is. Lets accept the fact that a hypothesis created by someone who is far removed from its respective field is a possibility.
1. Let's assume that you know what "empiricism" means. How many "assumption" do you make to get to the point where there are just way too many assumptions?

2. Let's assume that maybe, you are a crackpot. Do you fit into the http://insti.physics.sunysb.edu/~siegel/quack.html" [Broken]?

Are you a quack said:
"My theory doesn't need any complicated math."

Then how do you calculate anything? Science is not just knowing "what goes up must come down", but when and where it comes down.
Zz.
 
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  • #12
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Lets presuppose that you are a philosophy major, or a psychology major, or something else and through logic and creativity you have what you believe to be a universal field theory. Please put all likeliness of this situation aside and lets assume there is a very very good chance your theory could be proven/explained . Do you......

A. Take 6-15 years out of your life to get the credentials necessary to prove and copyright your works and be published in peer review journals. Human productivity has been halted because of the wait but you will get full credit, unless someone writes the paper first.

B. Do some research anywhere from 3-8 years without the necessary credentials and hope somehow you can get published and credited with the work. Humanity still delayed but not as bad. (Or maybe humanity is delayed even more because the populous only trusts "credentialed" physicists that are part of the "system". ??)

C. Find a trust worthy physicist to go over your ideas and maybe they'll wright the math for you lol. Shared credit??

D. Something else.

Thanks for your input in advance.
Here's my proposal:

1) Study for 10 years the basic math and physics. Read and understand the necessary books.

2) Find out why your theory was wrong

3) ???

4) Profit

You DO understand that saying "I got the theory of everything, I just hope the math works out" is silly right?? The theory IS math. If you don't got the math, then you got nothing.
 
  • #13
Pengwuino
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You DO understand that saying "I got the theory of everything, I just hope the math works out" is silly right?? The theory IS math. If you don't got the math, then you got nothing.
Which is like saying you have the perfect recipe for a new type of pasta that is better than any pasta ever made, except you don't know the ingredients.
 
  • #14
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OK, let's give the OP the benifit of the doubt. Maybe he did solve it!!

So, blueshift, what does your theory say that the rest mass of the neutrino is??
 
  • #15
I can't tell if the original poster actually thinks has some sort of theory in the works, or if he's just asking as a pure hypothetical about the general process of getting your discoveries out there as non-academic. Everyone seems to have assumed the former. I really can't tell though.
 
  • #16
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"The theory is the math. If your theory can't make quantifiable predictions predictions, then it is worthless and not a theory at all."

Does string theory make quantifiable predictions?
 
  • #17
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"The theory is the math. If your theory can't make quantifiable predictions predictions, then it is worthless and not a theory at all."

Does string theory make quantifiable predictions?
No, which explains why many physicists regard it as worthless. Current research on string theory aspires to generate testable predictions for exactly that reason.
 
  • #18
6,814
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Lets presuppose that you are a philosophy major, or a psychology major, or something else and through logic and creativity you have what you believe to be a universal field theory.
Things are always easy if you don't know why they are hard. The problem is that the universe is messy. It's very easy to come up with a simple beautiful theory. Coming up one that matches the ugliness of the universe is hard.

A. Take 6-15 years out of your life to get the credentials necessary to prove and copyright your works and be published in peer review journals. Human productivity has been halted because of the wait but you will get full credit, unless someone writes the paper first.
What is more likely to happen is that at some point you figure out that what you are working on just won't work, and you try something else. Most ideas won't work, so you just have to come up with a lot of ideas, and sometimes lightning strikes.

It's also not a credentials issue.

C. Find a trust worthy physicist to go over your ideas and maybe they'll wright the math for you lol. Shared credit??
When professional physicists talk about their ideas to other physicists, its usually to have someone else grind it into dust.
 
  • #19
708
7
Alright, for argument's sake let's say that you're extremely intelligent and that you've come up with some grand theory of the universe.

If you ever want it to be more than just a clever idea, you need to be able to:
- have confidence there are no obvious holes or self-consistent loops in it
- communicate it properly,
- compare it with other exisiting theories,
- understand what's unique about it and why no one else has thought of it before, and
- present it to the academic community such that it can be tested in a quantitative manner.

The only practical way to do this is to go through the academic system and learn how to do all these things.

Humanity will be just fine for the decade or so that it takes you to do this.
This.

Quoted in full because it is worth reading twice.
 
  • #20
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I feel like the existence of wikipedia, NOVA, and Brian Greene's books has led to a lot of people thinking they know physics because they know about the history of physics and some of the visual concepts. This is because in many other nonquantitative fields, knowing the topic is the same as knowing the concepts of the topic. This is not the case in physics. Simple visual models like "the electron cloud" and "mass curving spacetime" may be easy to understand, but they are in fact, gross oversimplifications made deliberately to convey information to lay people who would otherwise be completely unable to grasp the ideas of the underlying theories without many more years of school. This is not a form of elitism.

Nobody is trying to bash you or make you feel stupid, but the truth is that physicists and mathematicians have worked tirelessly to develop the rigorous logical framework needed to accurately describe these theories. This framework is mathematics. You cannot actually have a physical theory without using mathematics to describe it. It took Newton, one of the greatest intellectual minds to have ever lived, to develop classical mechanics, and classical mechanics requires a lot of math. Yet, the concepts from classical mechanics are familiar to almost everyone.
 
  • #21
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First off let me say thank you for all of your input; and yes, even those that will not even humor me with the possibility of this scenario producing something "useful". Many of you have replied with severe skepticism, and that's good. However, where is the healthy amount of skepticism towards established academia in general? Where is the skepticism that leads to thinking outside of the box. Have you ever thought that perhaps knowledge and discoveries have been reduced because of our human tendencies? Science, no matter how hard humans may try, will have imperfections. It, after all, is in human hands. The same hands that cause wars, become jealous, steal, lie, cheat, but also create such beauty.

Given that we are imperfect beings why would one want to limit where they obtain knowledge from? Sure, we could say that it is evident that a field of professionals are going to produce the most work for their field, but good ideas and discoveries aren't valuable because they were conceived based on years of research and expertise; their value should be directly related to the object itself, and what I fear is that we as humans will not recognize truth or something valuable when we see it.

So there needs to be balance;professionals simply cant take time to analyze every thought by the "layman". But what definitely needs to exist is a reasonable path for a layman to get his ideas out. This can prevent valuable ideas from becoming lost because of the flaws in our human behavior and social structures. Please, do not think i am trying to emphasize that listening to the "layman's" ideas will be revolutionary, but rather, institutions and models of thinking that refute and ignore this concept shows a close-mindedness that is not conducive to human advancement, and scientific gain.
What I am basically saying is that the truth can be found outside of what you think can be the possible or most probable places.
But many jumped to the conclusion that I had some grand theory I wanted to expound or was hiding but wanted to find a way to get it recognized. I used the word “hypothetical”, but many were ready to knock it down immediately without really thinking about it. Evidently some have not studied epistemology and philosophy enough to understand the possibility that however improbable, a person can use logic, creativity, and portions of what we call math and science to develop a hypothesis that could be valuable.
I used the mother of all theories (unified field theory) to bait the gatekeepers and it worked. But its more than just gate keeping, its gate keeping without even first knowing what the hypothesis/theory was. Using the term unlikely .. That’s not bad, but instead many refuted the concept or gave me advice to manage my “mistake”. But that’s all and well we are human and make prejudgements all the time.
and finally let us suppose that the persons hypothesis would have been proven, but instead of getting advice on how to get it proved or disproved, he got discouraging remarks on how they are wrong, or most likely wrong when in fact they had never explained the theory/hypothesis to begin with. Humanity would of lost.
Thanks all for participating in my social experiment. Some constructive and deconstructive criticism but all great info thanks :)
 
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  • #22
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3,279
First off let me say thank you for all of your input; and yes, even those that will not even humor me with the possibility of this scenario producing something "useful". Many of you have replied with severe skepticism, and that's good. However, where is the healthy amount of skepticism towards established academia in general? Where is the skepticism that leads to thinking outside of the box. Have you ever thought that perhaps knowledge and discoveries have been reduced because of our human tendencies? Science, no matter how hard humans may try, will have imperfections. It, after all, is in human hands. The same hands that cause wars, become jealous, steal, lie, cheat, but also create such beauty.
There is skepticism towards established academia. Many people's ideas in academia are not accepted. Do you have ANY idea how hard it is to publish something peer reviewed?? Do you have ANY idea how much criticism something gets before it gets published?? Skepticism and doubt are one of the main characteristics of scientific research. And it didn't fail us this far...

And even IF something gets published, that isn't the end of it. Theories are being checked over and over again. A theory in academia can never be proven correct, it can only be proven wrong.

If you say that there isn't enough skepticism within established science, then frankly I think you know very little about established science.

Given that we are imperfect beings why would one want to limit where they obtain knowledge from?
It's a question of time management. Every person has limited time in which to do what he needs to do. And discussing theories with crackpots and layman is just very inefficient. A crackpot theory has NEVER lead to a functional scientific theory. A Unified theory without using math would NEVER work. I think the limit that we impose is a very good one.

Sure, we could say that it is evident that a field of professionals are going to produce the most work for their field, but good ideas and discoveries aren't valuable because they were conceived based on years of research and expertise; their value should be directly related to the object itself, and what I fear is that we as humans will not recognize truth or something valuable when we see it.
Sure we will recognize truth when we see it. If there is a theory out there which agrees with most experiments, then the theory has its merit. Subsequently, we test the theory over and over again, until it fails.

And yes, good ideas and discoveries DO follow after years of research and expertise. Nobody will ever take something serious if it has no math in it. Because the theory IS math.

So there needs to be balance;professionals simply cant take time to analyze every thought by the "layman". But what definitely needs to exist is a reasonable path for a layman to get his ideas out.
Such a path exists. I even laid it out for you in one of my posts. First you study ALL the relevant theory. Perhaps you might even obtain a PhD. Then you can contribute to science. This method has been proven to work!! This IS a reasonable path.
All the scientists have taken this path, why should you be any special?

I actually think it is quite arrogant to think that YOU have a novel new theory that none of the scientists would find. Scientists are seriously working SO hard to advance science. They are experts on their field. You think you're better than years of expertise??

This can prevent valuable ideas from becoming lost because of the flaws in our human behavior and social structures. Please, do not think i am trying to emphasize that listening to the "layman's" ideas will be revolutionary, but rather, institutions and models of thinking that refute and ignore this concept shows a close-mindedness that is not conducive to human advancement, and scientific gain.
It's not close mindedness. It's common sense. A theory of everything with NO MATH does not work. period.

What I am basically saying is that the truth can be found outside of what you think can be the possible or most probable places.
But many jumped to the conclusion that I had some grand theory I wanted to expound or was hiding but wanted to find a way to get it recognized. I used the word “hypothetical”, but many were ready to knock it down immediately without really thinking about it. Evidently some have not studied epistemology and philosophy enough to understand the possibility that however improbable, a person can use logic and portions of what we call math and science to develop a hypothesis that could be valuable.
[/QUOTE]

Well, we're sorry that we did not study epistomology and philosophy, but that we rather deal with REAL science.

I used the mother of all theories (unified field theory) to bait the gatekeepers and it worked. But its more than just gate keeping, its gate keeping without even first knowing what the hypothesis/theory was. Using the term unlikely .. That’s not bad, but instead many refuted the concept or gave me advice to manage my “mistake”. But that’s all and well we are human and make predetermined remarks all the time.
You DID make a mistake. You said you had a theory with no math. This is a mistake. No matter what you think. Your OP showed a blatant uninformed opinion on what science really is and how it works. So we pointed that out to you.

and finally let us suppose that the persons hypothesis would have been proven, but instead of getting advice on how to get it proved or disproved, he got discouraging remarks on how they are wrong, or most likely wrong when in fact they had never explained the theory/hypothesis to begin with. Humanity would of lost.
So, how can we give advice without you telling us what the theory is????

Humanity would probably have lost very little.

Thanks all for participating in my social experiment. Some constructive and deconstructive criticism but all great info thanks :)
Social experiment?? So basically you just wasted our time??

Oh well. Do me a favor and watch this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYPapE-3FRw
 
  • #23
Pengwuino
Gold Member
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First off let me say thank you for all of your input; and yes, even those that will not even humor me with the possibility of this scenario producing something "useful". Many of you have replied with severe skepticism, and that's good. However, where is the healthy amount of skepticism towards established academia in general? Where is the skepticism that leads to thinking outside of the box. Have you ever thought that perhaps knowledge and discoveries have been reduced because of our human tendencies? Science, no matter how hard humans may try, will have imperfections. It, after all, is in human hands. The same hands that cause wars, become jealous, steal, lie, cheat, but also create such beauty.
If someone came up to you and said that they had a great way to power your car using wood. They bring up to you a wood stove and say that this is the most efficient way possible to power a car but they need investors. Do you say "wow you might be on to something, I'll fund you!". Of course not! And why wouldn't you say that? Because you KNOW that humans have worked on powering cars for a century and powering cars using wood has long since been dismissed as inefficient.

This is the same idea issue you're presenting. There is healthy skepticism (oddly enough, something you're not exercising) and long ago it was realized that a vast vast vast majority of discoveries come from people who have studied and taken part of the field of study for at least a decent amount of time. It was also realized that people like you are a dime a dozen and not a single discovery has ever come from someone who said "I have a great idea, I just don't know the math". You are the equivalent to the wood stove. No one is going to waste their time funding someone with a wood fired automobile.

Given that we are imperfect beings why would one want to limit where they obtain knowledge from? Sure, we could say that it is evident that a field of professionals are going to produce the most work for their field, but good ideas and discoveries aren't valuable because they were conceived based on years of research and expertise; their value should be directly related to the object itself, and what I fear is that we as humans will not recognize truth or something valuable when we see it.
Your object has no value. It has no math. It can't make predictions. Predictions = value. In fact, that is the ONLY thing that is of value in science. As far as limiting the places we can get knowledge, remember that people have a finite amount of time. As I said earlier, people like you are a dime a dozen. You aren't the only person who comes in here with their very own "theory of everything" and human progress would grind to a halt if everyone sat through and humored your delusions of grandeur.

So there needs to be balance;professionals simply cant take time to analyze every thought by the "layman". But what definitely needs to exist is a reasonable path for a layman to get his ideas out. This can prevent valuable ideas from becoming lost because of the flaws in our human behavior and social structures. Please, do not think i am trying to emphasize that listening to the "layman's" ideas will be revolutionary, but rather, institutions and models of thinking that refute and ignore this concept shows a close-mindedness that is not conducive to human advancement, and scientific gain.
The only close-mindedness that is happening here is when a layman comes in and believes he's doing science without being able to make predictions and has nothing to show. That is not science. It's like saying why not make spaghetti using a slab of marble? It's not "close-mindedness" if you call BS and say a slab of marble isn't spaghetti.

What I am basically saying is that the truth can be found outside of what you think can be the possible or most probable places.
Name 1 accepted modern theory that was done by someone with no formal education in physics within the past 100 years.

But many jumped to the conclusion that I had some grand theory I wanted to expound or was hiding but wanted to find a way to get it recognized. I used the word “hypothetical”, but many were ready to knock it down immediately without really thinking about it.
We're not that stupid. We know you have a theory you espouse and were hoping to get to state it just like the hundreds if not thousands of others that have come by here over the years. You wouldn't be so defensive over a 'hypothetical'.
 
  • #24
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I wanted to genuinely know the path one would have to take to get something published in a subject they would be considered layman or lacking a degree in any particular field. I choose
a science field because a science field would seem like something that would be a challenge to get a paper published in etc.The post was never intended to determine whether I had an acceptable theory or not. I could have made some ridiculous theory of how the moon is made of cheese, but I wanted to use the universal field theory as a device that showed not only did I want to see how to be published or contribute, but to do it at a level that is influential to the field of study. It was a question more about the nature of academia and how to participate. Not the nature of science. Now you are wrong thinking that I came here to post because I think I have an awesome theory. I posted this hypothetical because, 1. I am interested in doing some work outside of my field. and 2. i wanted to see if a good idea would fade into the abyss in such a circumstance. I find it interesting and it is an academic question. (located in the "academic" section of the forum)

People did provide ways to go about it, I wish more energy was used toward that end, however.
 
  • #25
Vanadium 50
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bait the gatekeepers
Thanks all for participating in my social experiment.
Well, since you admit you were trolling, there's not much point in continuing, is there?
 

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