The physicist John Archibald Wheeler wrote in 1984:

...the most revolutionary discovery in science is yet to come! And come, not by questioning the quantum, but by uncovering that utterly simple idea that demands the quantum.” Wheeler, 1984 [1]

Here is where a “modal realist version of Einstein”, while contemplating the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox involving the infamous Alice and Bob characters, could have stumbled onto Wheeler’s “utterly simple idea that demands the quantum”:

“What matches up the many different Bobs with the possible Alices (all observe only one Bob and one Alice) so that ‘reasonable’ stochastic laws emerge from this chaotic mess? A physicist naturally asks for the ‘mechanism’ that has access to the alternatives to accomplish that ‘interaction’ between them.  That ‘interaction’ is precisely what QM with its superposition and entanglement and interference between possibilities is, and its necessity demands the quantum.” [2]

The fourth FQXi contestWhich of Our Basic Physical Assumptions Are Wrong? is now closed. My entry [2] argues that physical actualization of future is the worst offender, and that without it, many profound difficulties will become as trivial as the earth orbiting the sun (no big claim here - it always works out this way with paradigm changes, and who wants to claim that quantum mechnics will not lead to a true paradigm change).

Everett Relativity follows from Special Relativity added to the indeterminism of tautological modal realism. Source: [2]

First request I ask of you today: Go read it please, but be warned. It is the most difficult piece I have ever written. I struggled hard and had to reject some of my own terminology, improving it considerably during these months. The essay changed much since the drafts you may have seen; there is sweat and blood in every line. Many people helped me with making it as clear as possible (thank you Gerhard, Richard, and many more who may not like to be mentioned by name), but because the content cannot be put very differently without destroying the message, it stays to be a difficult read. It can be understood with some effort, as it is self-contained (except for the appendix), and color coding definitions of terms (green) and numbering paragraphs (blue) with extensive cross-references are there to help. I promise that it is worth your effort.

It has to be read twice in order to see that most sentences (which should themselves often be read several times), however strange or clumsy some of them seem, can hardly be put any other way without becoming wrong and/or conflicting with the whole. There is no other way to anticipate a paradigm (the language of which) we do not know (certainly not given a 25k character limit). There is no other way to address the fundamentally wrong, as the contest explicitly asks to do (!), i.e. the meaningless, without violating the main lessons that Wittgenstein taught us, namely, that one has to be silent about the meaningless.

John A. Wheeler

Because of the unavoidable level of difficulty, here the second request I ask of you: Write me here in the comments (or email me) your criticisms and questions. I will put together a FAQ or even write articles about particular issues (probably things like whether I do or do not “believe” in “many-worlds” and suchlike, but maybe there are some surprise topics). Ideally, I would write an article about every single one of the 24 small paragraphs, but time is money.

“An interaction faster than the fastest possible in the isolated game is a sure sign of players messing with the game pieces.  As Einstein said: spooky!  Whether it be gods or alternative worlds, there is interference.” [2]

Third request: The title here is “Wheelers utterly simple idea”, but the title of the essay is “Realism escaping Wittgenstein’s Silence: The Paradigm Shift that renders Quantum Mechanics Natural”. Since the essay is difficult, I can hardly title it via “utterly simple”, but tell me whether you can agree with what the essay implicitly claims, namely having isolated (at least partially or one version of putting) Wheelers ‘simple idea’, and whether I am correct in that it is “utterly simple” if only expressed in the natural language of the future’s modal realistic paradigm.

No fourth request: I am not asking you to not vote for it, but I do not ask you to vote for it. I dislike this creepy exploitation of crowd dynamics and wooing for popularity that everything, even “science”, developed into. I do not desire your vote; I want you to understand it, because if you do, you will realize that the deepest current issues in physics and philosophy will be as trivial as the earth circling the sun and self-evident to school children in the future. This implies in turn that you can help to make it so! The essay, basic special relativity, the Quantum Randi Challenge, the EPR resolution, all can and should be, and with your help may be soon, made into a picture book that ten year olds will enjoy and into movies that people will want to watch.


[1] J.A. Wheeler: “Bits, Quanta and Meaning” in Theoretical Physics Meeting: Commemorative Volume on the Occasion of Eduardo Caianiello's Sixtieth Birthday, A. Giovanni et al. eds. (Edizioni Scientifici Italiani, Naples) 121-134, 1984

[2] S. Vongehr: “Realism escaping Wittgenstein’s Silence: The Paradigm Shift that renders Quantum Mechanics Natural”. 4th FQXi Essay Contest (2012)