Sometime in December of last year I read about the latest FQXi request for proposals, for the “Physics of What Happens Grant Program”, which I found quite interesting and motivating, to say the least. A few weeks later, still days ahead of the deadline, I registered with the FQXi (for the first time) and I submitted the proposal which I had prepared in the meantime; in the required form, see appendix below.
The receipt of my proposal entry was duely confirmed. Yesterday I received the notification of the decision of the initial review panel (see appendix below). Of course, I had not quite expected to be dismissed already at the initial round of selection, without receiving any individual feedback to my entry, or even some hint of substantive recognition … Let me not dwell on that.
Foremost, I like to thank the organizers and sponsors of FQXi, and of this particular RFP especially, for having dangled enough of a carrot for me to develop my proposal as far as it presently stands. And good luck to those entries which are still in competition.
Further, I’ve got this blog set up so far already … Let me not dwell on its shortcomings (for now); time to put it to use!:
Let’s just see anyways whether two years are enough (as prescribed by the grant proposal; or, given my circumstances, rather until the end of 2017) for me to achieve (and to document in this blog) what I undertook by submitting my proposal: “Expressing Mutual Rest of Participants through Coincidence Events“.
(1): My proposal, as submitted to the FQXi RFP in Feb. 2015
(Note: The FQXi RFP submission procedures were really quite strict in allowing precisely only 500 words in the proposal text, i.e. excluding the title. So I wasn’t able to submit my fairly carefully laid-out one page PDF document of about 530 words, but I reverted my LaTeX file to plain text, shortening it just enough by skipping the references.)
Project Title: Expressing Mutual Rest of Participants through Coincidence Events
Project Summary: The notion “event”, or suitably synonymous: “coincidence”, has basic self-evident importance in contemporary conceptions of geometric relations; implicitly for instance in Einstein’s definition of “simultaneity” :
“If the observer perceives the two flashes of lightning at the same time, then …”,
and especially prominent in Einstein’s foundational considerations [2a]:
“We assume the possibility for stating … the immediate space-time adjacency (coincidence) [for observational contents of] events … without giving a definition for this fundamental expression.”
along with [2b]:
“All our well-substantiated space-time propositions amount to the determination of space-time coincidences. If, for example, the [course of events] consisted in the motion of material points, then, for this last case, nothing else are really observable except for encounters between two or more of these material points.”
Such commendation suggests a research program to explore how “space-time propositions” may be explicitly expressed, and thus be firmly comprehended, in terms of descriptions of coincidence events; i.e. by detailling all their observational contents
– who (among all distinct identifiable participants) had “encountered (and passed)” whom (and, case by case, whom not); and/or
– who had observed whose signal indications “at the same time” (or else: in sequence, or not at all).
Applicable propositions would concern causal relations (such as, for any three distinct coincidence events with at least one common participant to determine which one had been “between” the other two) as well as suitably generalized metric relations (foremost to evaluate the ratio of any two non-zero “space-time intervals”, as a real number).
Arguably, such a research program has barely been recognized (e.g. within the broader context by which Einstein’s “point-coincidence argument” has received continued attention ); only few though well-known cases (e.g. ) can serve at least as partial examples.
As a short-term contribution I’d like to investigate whether the following expression in terms of coincidence events is suitable for defining an explicit instance of the proposition
“being at rest to each other in a region which is flat in a suitable sense (expressed similarly)”,
regarding ten distinct, separate participants (A, B, F, G suggestively called “corners”, and J, K, P, Q, U, W as corresponding “halfway-betweens”). Require:
– for any signal event in which A had taken part (and had thus stated a signal indication), A observed in coincidence that
* B and F and G had observed this signal event, and
* J had observed that A had observed that J had observed this signal event, and
* likewise for K and P;
– for any signal event in which B had taken part, B observed in coincidence that
* A and F and G had observed this signal event, and
* J had observed that B had observed that J had observed this signal event, and
* likewise for Q and U;
– etc. for F and for G;
– for any signal event in which J had taken part, J observed in coincidence that
* A and B and K and P and Q and U had observed this signal event;
– etc. for K, P, Q, U and for W.
(2): E_mail from fqxi.org received on March 17th, 2015:
FQXi grant proposal decision [Physics of What Happens]
Thank you for your submission to FQXi’s Physics of What Happens Grant Program. Our initial review panel has now concluded. We’re sorry to let you know that they did not select your proposal as one of our finalists.
Due to our limited budget and a strong pool of entries, competition was tough. We had to decline many promising entries. This two-stage review process avoids inflicting the community with a very small acceptance rate for long proposals that take great effort to prepare.
We can’t provide individual feedback on the entries, but in general, the panel looked closely at a proposal’s relevance to the FQXi mission and the program topic, and to the estimated scientific impact-per-dollar. This year’s panel was particularly careful on the question of relevance, as they interpreted it.
Thank you again for the work and time spent on preparing your proposal. Please look out for more FQXi programs in the future, including further Grant competitions.
[two personalized signatures]