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RECENT POSTS IN THIS TOPIC

Anonymous: on 8/25/10 at 20:40pm UTC, wrote You should grant or hire DiMeglio.

David S.: on 3/20/08 at 17:45pm UTC, wrote The current funding system at FQXi does an excellent job imho of supporting...

Tung: on 11/10/07 at 9:12am UTC, wrote I am not a crackpot. I need a place to put up articles. It is distressing...

Malcolm: on 11/9/07 at 19:43pm UTC, wrote I am a crackpot. We don't necessarily need funding... but we do need a...

Vladimir Kalitvianski: on 7/17/07 at 23:46pm UTC, wrote Hello guys, I propose you to fund my own research. It is sufficiently...

Bee: on 7/13/07 at 17:29pm UTC, wrote Hi Anthony... Indeed. If I had heard of fqxi before the deadline I would...

Anthony Aguirre: on 7/13/07 at 4:22am UTC, wrote Some interesting ideas here. Count Iblis: Your plan is nice, but it does...

Bee: on 7/13/07 at 0:17am UTC, wrote but I guarantee he or she is out there somewhere on the Internet. There is...


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FQXi Administrator Anthony Aguirre wrote on Jun. 20, 2007 @ 17:42 GMT
Over at Cosmic Variance, Sean has posted a very nice "Alternative science respectability checklist" . The extensive (and somewhat amusing...) commentary there brings up in places an important point. Suppose there are, in fact, people with genuinely interesting and deep physics ideas who are not part of the standard academic track (e.g. Einstein), or otherwise 'marginalized' by our current research-support system. How do we find them, take them seriously, and even potentially fund them, without wasting an immense amount of time on those who do not fulfill, e.g., Sean's respectability checklist? (Note that Einstein certainly would have!)

Since FQXi does, in fact, hope to find, take seriously, and even fund such people, how do we do it? We've got some ideas, but it isn't easy, and your proposals are welcome. Remember that your proposal must

(a) Avoid using up huge quantities of time by talented scientists reviewing proposals/theories/papers.

(b) Avoid wasting large quantities of money on worthless research or on paying above talented scientists for their time.

(c) Avoid administrative nightmares for FQXi.

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Irvon Eugene Clear wrote on Jun. 22, 2007 @ 06:15 GMT
Well, I may be biased, but it seems the way you did it the first time worked nicely.

You announce you're giving money away, with a clear description of what kind of projects you're going to fund. Then you accept very brief initial proposals, and toss out the ones not meeting Sean's minimal requirements. Since these initial proposals are so short, they take little effort to screen, and the submitters who are cut don't feel like they've wasted the effort that goes into writing a large proposal. The ones who make the first pass submit larger proposals, which go to a committee for more careful consideration. The committee discusses and then votes, possibly with a reduced funding level suggested.

This seems pretty darn good. It will be biased, because of the bias of the committee, but in a way it's the committee's duty to be biased -- towards funding research that looks promising. There are only a couple minor suggestions I can think of that might improve this process:

Sometimes people working on foundational ideas are rather timid. People think physicists' egos are huge, and sometimes they are. But people working on something big encounter failure after failure in the things they try -- if they don't, it's often because they're fooling themselves. That's the nature of the search. And it makes one humble. So humble that these people might not think it's worth applying for a grant, even if their work merits one. I think it would be helpful if FQXi members are allowed to nominate people they think might fit in this category. These nominees would receive an email from FQXi inviting them to submit an initial proposal. They would not be given special consideration, but receiving a personal invitation to apply might be encouraging for them.

The only other suggestion I have would be to make the review process more efficient, or at least cheaper, by making it virtual. I suspect FQXi flew the last review committee somewhere for a weekend of going through proposals. It would be cheaper to create something like a private blog for the committee, with a post for each proposal, and a comment space for the committee to communicate, and vote. The vote could be made a "rolling vote" --- changeable and viewable -- so reviewers would quickly know what proposals not to waste much time on. This probably wouldn't be nearly as much fun as meeting in person to go through proposals, and it wouldn't be as fast, but it would be much cheaper.

this post has been edited by the author since its original submission

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Paul Valletta wrote on Jun. 23, 2007 @ 02:05 GMT
Although I found the thread at cosmicvarience interesting, I feel that science is actuially creating conditions remenicent of the "cold_war" era?

I have images of Scientists lined up with their seconds to accomodate their vast awarded medals (it appears that some scientists have so many medals, they literally have to have seconds to display thier wares!)..all monty python like. Nevertheless, I understand the closed shop attitude of those who,for personal reasons, do not like to be undermined by the uneducated masses?

But, and it is important to understand this, the world is changing fast, imagine if Einstein was able to comunicate via the internet 100 years ago, E=MC2 and it's importance to the distribution of technical advancement, would have had grave consequences for the world population, had it's relevence been distributed via a fast-track system.

World war 2 would have been brought forward by at least a decade, and if the wrong minds were working behind closed doors on the E=MC2 equation, then Einstein would certainly not have reached American shores.

Now in this current ever rapidly changing world, "what-if" seems to be the trade mark quote for scientific establishments. So what if E=MC2 had a part two, or in todays terminology an update?..what-if this updated version contained a more powerful "dark-energy" variable?

Lets be honest, E=MC2 was the result of not a long time established academic, it was the result from someone who thought outside the box. Then those who thought inside the box took the equation to it's destructive pinnacle, not saying they were jealous of his achievments?..maybe,maybe not, but there were those who seemed to dislike Einstein for "the wrong reasons", maybe these were academic reasons.

Reaching out to the Sun, and pulling it down to earth using a fraction of its power via E=MC2, human evolution has developed into the complexed world we see today, but beware the next "Einstein" might result in the reproduction of "Galactic/Universe" energy scales?..and depending which side of the "cold" fence he'she was on, it would be tragically ironic if left out by a "cold-shoulder"

establishment, and taken in by a radical "hot-shoulder" fundemental regime, who actually knows?

I think sceintific acadamia is realistic to know when they are spoilt for choice.

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Peter Fred wrote on Jun. 24, 2007 @ 09:04 GMT
I have an alternative theory of gravity. I have done all the course work for a PhD in psychology. I invested most of the last 30 years on my theory in the belief that an amateur has a better chance with a theoretical fundamental problem as did the amateurs Darwin and Copernicus. The link to my paper and website is my theory & experiments.

I can not find a place on the fq(x) site where I can submit it. People want to call me a crackpot without reading my paper. Amateurs like Darwin and Copernicus have quite an impressive record in straighting out a disciple that suffers from a questionable foundation. Why cannot my 30 year effort get a decent hearing?

With the present unquestionable belief that gravity is mediated by some property of mass that has never been identified we have lost 95 % of the universe. My theory at least does not have that kind of record.

attachments: 9__increase.JPG, GRF_April_6_2007.pdf

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Reason McLucus wrote on Jun. 27, 2007 @ 08:52 GMT
I'm going to break up my response into several posts.

Scientists for centuries have been seeking money for research that had little chance of producing the results they claimed. Perhaps many of the alchemists of an earlier age really believed they could turn base metals into gold, but many of us think of them as practicing fraud because we know what they were attempting to do was scientifically impossible.

I have similar misgivings about some major government "science" spending programs today. Embyronic researchers who claim they can cure all sorts of major diseases sound to me much like the individuals who once sold "magic healing elixers" commonly referred to as "snake oil". Are the climatologists who claim they can predict climate a decade or more in the future any different from circus side show fortune tellers?

You should avoid those who make claims that sound too good to be true because they probably either don't really understand what they are doing, like the alchemists, or they are deliberately attempting to deceive. Funding for those talking about miracle cures and sources of unlimited or cheap energy should be left to organizations with money to waste.

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Reason McLucus wrote on Jun. 27, 2007 @ 08:52 GMT
Origin of the universe or biological life isn't a scientific subject because empirical science uses experimentation and observation to verify its concepts and the distant past may not be manipulated or observed. Science is limited to suggesting possibilities which cannot be proved. The popular concepts for origin of life or the universe don't seem worth investing in because they are unlikely to...

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Reason McLucus wrote on Jun. 27, 2007 @ 08:53 GMT
Science is about looking for new questions to ask. Physicists have a model of the atom they are satisfied with, but are colliding heavy nuclei just in case they have missed something. Much of establishment science is questionable, particularly many of the concepts developed in the 19th Century when scientists believed atoms were the smallest particles of matter. I use the term "establishment science" rather than "established science" because many of the concepts fit in the category of what John Kenneth Galbraith once described as "the convention wisdom". They are accepted as true even though they haven't been verified to be true, contain logical flaws or are no longer consistent with known information.

False concepts can only hold back science by limited development of accurate concepts. Valid concepts can only be strengthened by questioning.

Research and new ideas in some areas are desperately needed and are unlikely to be funded through conventional sources.

For example, the black body model is a simple linear model that falsely assumes only two conditions: a body either produces radiation or becomes hotter after receiving radiation. It ignores the possibility of changes in the electrons of the molecules of the solid which could cause the molecules to link together (such as the process of photosynthesis). The model can only apply to a solid surrounded by a vacuum. A solid with an atmosphere will immediately conduct heat to any atmosphere preventing the solid from radiating the conducted energy into space. If the planet has water as well as a solid surface the water is unlikely to produce significant radiation, instead transferring heat to the air as latent heat through evaporation and then rising through the air before condensing and releasing its heat well above the solid surface of the planet.

The idea of magical greenhouse gases controlling the temperature of the atmosphere is hampering scientific study of climate. Niels Bohr would seem to have disproved the idea that absorption of specific wavelengths of light by gas molecules causes them to become hotter with the research for which he received a Nobel Prize. Someone should fund an experiment that would test the claim by separating the source of radiation from the gases to be heated by a vacuum so that the source cannot heat the target by conduction.

The Michelson-Morley experiment supposedly disproved the existence of an aether to propagate electromagnetic radiation through space. However, scientists at the time were unaware that water currents didn't affect the speed of high speed tsunami waves because this fact wasn't discovered until a century later. If water currents don't affect the speed of high speed water waves, then any aether wind would be unlikely to affect the speed of light.

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Reason McLucus wrote on Jun. 28, 2007 @ 08:39 GMT
Quantum Physics and Crackpots

Niels Bohr: * "If quantum mechanics hasn't profoundly shocked you, you haven't understood it yet."

Niels Bohr: "Your theory is crazy, but it's not crazy enough to be true."

Imagine for a moment you know nothing about quantum physics and someone suggests one of the following.

A claim that particles that are some distance apart nevertheless act as if they are connected

A photon with two available gates to go through will go through the one the observer thinks it will go through. If the observer doesn't think about the photon going through a particular gate it will go through one gate some of the time and the other gate some of the time.

Both claims sound a lot like something a "crackpot" might make. I haven't observed either situation, but people who aren't considered crackpots have and say both observations are correct.

The point is that sometimes it's impossible to determine who is a crackpot until after the research is completed. There is no foolproof method of determining whose theory is "crazy enough to be true."

This forum may be useful for rating proposals to determine which are more deserving of funding. Some proposals may involve concepts others have already rejected for one reason or another. In other cases someone may notice that John Doe seems to have part of an answer to some question and Mary Smith has another part of the answer.

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William Orem wrote on Jul. 1, 2007 @ 20:28 GMT
Anthony --

A pedestrian answer, but you could do it the same way journals and magazines do in trawling for quality new authors. If you send a short story to The Atlantic, it doesn't go to the Editor; it goes to a crowd of volunteers who aren't artists but know enough to spot a worthwhile idea. The "slush pile" of FQXi ideas could be culled (for credit?) by undergrads at MIT or Harvard fairly quickly, I would bet, before a smaller group of worthies is forwarded to the Scientific Panel.



These undergrads could be specially versed on the Respectability Checklist (they ought to know it anyway) but, by virtue of being young, might still be more open to schema-breaking possibilities than stodgy older folks like us . . .

William

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FQXi Administrator Anthony Aguirre wrote on Jul. 3, 2007 @ 20:50 GMT
Garrett:

First I should say that we were also pretty happy with the way the last FQXi review process went. What I'm getting at here a bit more is how could we run a process that 'casts a wider net' than the current one, without sacrificing quality of funded proposals, or administrative efficiency.

Then: I like the "nomination to invite" idea -- can't hurt. I'm very skeptical of the virtual meeting, as I think conversation is essential -- though teleconferencing would be a possibility in my mind.

Peter Fred:

I don't think this is the right place to present/discuss particular alternative theories. But you raise an important point: sometimes, what is most desired is not funding but recognition and exposure of what someone has been working on. This might be cheaper, but does not avoid the question of how the evaluation is to be done.

William:

This is a nice idea -- the tricky part would be recruiting and controlling the army of grad students, which might get administratively challenging.

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Gevin Giorbran wrote on Jul. 5, 2007 @ 15:08 GMT
In respectability checklist,

Sean Carrol Wrote:

“There may have been a time, in the halcyon days of Archimedes or maybe even Galileo and Newton, when anyone with a can-do attitude and a passing interest in the fundamental mysteries could make an important contribution to our understanding of nature. Those days are long past… If you haven’t mastered what we’ve already learned, you’re not going to be able to see beyond it.”

For myself this highlights the problem of FQXi finding an Einstein level of contribution, or anything major. First, physicists think all the fundamental stuff is already discovered. They see the irrational claims and thinking of people they call crackpots, but they don't see any of that in themselves. With so much developed thought, how would anyone entrenched in science recognize a new fundamental understanding. Anything new will seem more alien and absurd than any science proposed in the past.

Further still, physicists have their own irrational bias, there is bias and skepticism ingrained in physics. Anything important will be fundamental so it will directly challenge existing bias. It will likely challenge mistakes that have been made in science.

You won't fund anything that will turn important. You'll just fund something that meets your criteria.

Maybe a journal. Create an online journal with some sort of real name yet publicly anonymous voting system. Display the articles in reference to votes. Offer the leading papers a number of scientific reviews by recognized scientists done blindly then posted at the same time.

Most importantly, allow fundamental questions only. If someone wants to prove Einstein wrong or propose a new theory of gravity they do need to be educated. Maybe that is my main complaint about physicists. There is a recognizable difference between fundamental and non-fundamental theories. Work to recognize and be open to discussing fundamental concepts.

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Gevin Giorbran wrote on Jul. 6, 2007 @ 01:47 GMT
Another idea. Create a page where anyone can propose blog subjects for the main page related to their theory or work.

I will get it started (laugh to myself).

I would like a discussion on the question: Does the arrow of time point at zero?

Is this a reasonable fundamental topic? In '98 we discovered the expansion of the universe is accelerating. The temperature of the universe is already only 2.73 degrees above zero Kelvin. Robert Caldwell of Dartmouth, author of Quintessence, and colleagues proposed the Big Rip scenario in 2003 and at least reservedly mentioned the idea that time ends in such a future at the ultimate singularity.

Here is my paper on the subject:

http://everythingforever.com/BleakUniverseNot.pdf (60Kb)

If the universe is headed for zero as in the big rip model then obviously the statistical side of the second law (systems move from order to disorder) doesn't apply to the cosmological arrow of time, since zero in no way relates to disorder. Is there a more fundamental concept not being explored in the mainstream? Why aren't the implications of the big rip being explored today? Certainly the expanding universe has been moving toward zero since the big bang. Why hasn't the possibility that time is aimed precisely at zero been explored more fully? How do we define a universe expanded perfectly flat in terms of order and disorder?

I am interested to see how all react to a truly unexplored fundamental question in physics.

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Gevin Giorbran wrote on Jul. 6, 2007 @ 02:22 GMT
Another idea. Create a page where anyone can propose blog subjects for the main page related to their theory or work.

I will get it started (laugh to myself).

I would like a discussion on the question: Does the arrow of time point at zero?

Is this a reasonable fundamental topic? In '98 we discovered the expansion of the universe is accelerating. The temperature of the universe is already only 2.73 degrees above zero Kelvin. Robert Caldwell of Dartmouth, author of Quintessence, and colleagues proposed the Big Rip scenario in 2003 and at least reservedly mentioned the idea that time ends in such a future at the ultimate singularity.

Here is my paper on the subject:

http://everythingforever.com/BleakUniverseNot.pdf (60Kb)

If the universe is headed for zero as in the big rip model then obviously the statistical side of the second law (systems move from order to disorder) doesn't apply to the cosmological arrow of time, since zero in no way relates to disorder. Is there a more fundamental concept not being explored in the mainstream? Why aren't the implications of the big rip being explored today? Certainly the expanding universe has been moving toward zero since the big bang. Why hasn't the possibility that time is aimed precisely at zero been explored more fully? How do we define a universe expanded perfectly flat in terms of order and disorder?

I am interested to see how all react to a truly unexplored fundamental question in physics.

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ni wrote on Jul. 6, 2007 @ 19:15 GMT
Judging Crackpot-vs-advancement

Anthony,

Here is something that should challenge your judgment about crackpots-vs- new science (or at least spark some interest in the way FQXi handles funding proposals). What would you do with something like that below? Mark, over at Cosmic Variance proposed a test that an alternative idea in particle cosmology should address and at least meet...

view entire post


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FQXi Administrator Anthony Aguirre wrote on Jul. 9, 2007 @ 14:59 GMT
nl:

I'm not sure what technical difficulty you are encountering, but if you have a long document you could probably avoid this by uploading it as an attachment.

that being said, what would be much more interesting in this forum than particular proposals for theories would be proposals for procedures (such as suggested by Orem, Lisi, and Giorbran) by which non-establishment but non-crackpot proposals could be solicited, reviewed, and potentially funded (or just publicized).

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Alejandro Rivero wrote on Jul. 10, 2007 @ 23:37 GMT
Your answer to Peter Fred raises an interesting project: to look for public referees to tell, in a plublic way, what is wrong in each of these papers by amateurs. Referees usually do not fell obligation to go deep or detailed with obvious off-track papers, and most times rejection is at editor level, and it does not differ a lot from name-calling. So people keeps trying because there are not told what is wrong in each work, and if they are told they are told in private ways and they keep pestering. So a good initative could be to pay a really good referee work.

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Count Iblis wrote on Jul. 11, 2007 @ 01:37 GMT
You could simply attach the condition that people should be available for refereeing in exchange for the grant money that they get. Let's say that one percent of the grant should represent the lost income due to refereeing.

Then, if some Prof. get's $100,000 then he should use $1000 of this to do refereeing work. He could let a few of his Ph.D. students do the refereeing. $1000 represents about one Ph.D. student working for two weeks full time...

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Peter Fred wrote on Jul. 11, 2007 @ 08:44 GMT
As it says in the great American novel that was discovered 75 years after it was written:

"Who is to judge when the judge himself is dragged to the bar?"

Who is the crackpot? The person who is called a crackpot or those who call him one?

Was Copernicus a crackpot or the Scholastics?

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Bee wrote on Jul. 11, 2007 @ 18:02 GMT
Interesting. I think the present system is pretty efficient with sorting out 'crackpots'. Its problem is that in addition to the scientific criteria it also applies a lot of political constraints that have nothing to do with the actual content of a proposal or the talent of the researcher (e.g. co-workers, citation index, networking and social skills etc - unlike to what others above seem to think, imho having an education in the field is a good criterion). Interestingly, it seems to me most people sitting in committees are very well aware of that they decisions are not based on scientific considerations as much as they should be. So I think it just takes an environment that allows to follow just the scientific judgement without fearing for consequences (like 'if we hire that guy we will loose that grant because he's not publishing every year' or 'that person doesn't know anybody, of what use will she be').

reg. Garrett's suggestion to nominate in addition to self-application, I think it's a good suggestion. I suspect there are many people who drop out of the field despite their skills because they don't see how they can fit in, and regard this as a failure.

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Dick Dolan wrote on Jul. 12, 2007 @ 04:26 GMT
If you want to find the next Einstein, why not do what everybody does when looking for information: search the Internet? The next Einstein may have been rejected everywhere else and may be too discouraged to be proactive, but I guarantee he or she is out there somewhere on the Internet.

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Bee wrote on Jul. 13, 2007 @ 00:17 GMT
but I guarantee he or she is out there somewhere on the Internet.

There is absolutely no reason why the 'next Einstein' is guaranteed to be found in the internet. To begin with, you are completely ignoring a large part of the world, and you are ignoring that not everybody is a fan of the infotainment era. I have a lot of colleagues and friends (all ages, not all in academia) who don't even have a homepage, no idea what a blog is, and would never post a comment in an online forum. You are basically saying everybody who is intelligent enough to qualify can be found somewhere on the internet. I totally object on that.

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FQXi Administrator Anthony Aguirre wrote on Jul. 13, 2007 @ 04:22 GMT
Some interesting ideas here.

Count Iblis: Your plan is nice, but it does violate a central FQXi commandment: first cause no annoyance. That is, paying someone to referee something makes them feel good. Giving them a bunch of money for research and then requiring them to referee (including making sure they do this) risks, I fear, making them feel controlled and irritated.

Dick Dolan: Like Bee, I'm a bit skeptical that we can count on a comprehensible and findable internet presence. But you definitely raise an interesting point (which Garret did also) that some proactivity on FQXi's part -- rather than putting out a call and passively waiting for proposals to come in -- may be useful.

Another tricky question raised by the discussion: how do we get the word out to the relevant people? Can we count on the next Einstein to carefully re-check the FQXi website every now and then? Probably not.

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Bee wrote on Jul. 13, 2007 @ 17:29 GMT
Hi Anthony...

Indeed. If I had heard of fqxi before the deadline I would have applied... I personally like flyers and brochures a lot. Since it's a strictly scientific endeavor I see no reason why it wouldn't be possible to have some distributed over universities/other institutions, or the best place to do so would be science libraries - your 'next Einstein' (I don't like that term) might not work at a Dept. of Physics, but (s)he will probably appreciate a decent library. Plus, you might want to keep options for getting in contact/application that don't go entirely via the internet. I've heard the postal service is still in business. Best,

B.

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Vladimir Kalitvianski wrote on Jul. 17, 2007 @ 23:46 GMT
Hello guys,

I propose you to fund my own research. It is sufficiently important to get funded.

I speak of QED – Quantum Electrodynamics. Its solutions are found by perturbation theory starting from bare particles. This initial approximation is far away from the exact solution. That is why the perturbative corrections are big (infinite).

My experience in the theoretical and mathematical physics shows that the quality of the initial approximation determines the correction values. The closer the initial approximation to the exact solution, the smaller are perturbative corrections. I published several papers on this subject.

I have found another initial approximation in QED – a real electron, rather than a bare one. This is a charge coupled non-perturbatively (exactly) to the quantized electromagnetic field. I spent a lot of effort to find it. Now the charge is not pointlike but naturally smeared by the field fluctuations. So no ultraviolet divergences arise.

When you push the charge bound to the field (scattering), its state with respect to the field change and this means radiation. This is obtained in the first Born approximation in a natural way (rather than in the second one, as in the standard QED), son no infrared divergences arise either.

Therefore, my approach avoids in a natural way the fundamental difficulties of QED. The theory (as a model) becomes conceptually correct and logically complete.

I need some funding to finish my calculations. If you are interested in my results, just let me know.

Sincerely,

Vladimir Kalitvianski, Grenoble.

vladimir.kalitvianski@wanadoo.fr

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Malcolm wrote on Nov. 9, 2007 @ 19:43 GMT
I am a crackpot. We don't necessarily need funding... but we do need a dedicated archive where we can post an abstract, key word list and pdf (theory) attachment.

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Tung wrote on Nov. 10, 2007 @ 09:12 GMT
I am not a crackpot. I need a place to put up articles. It is distressing to see people who have similar ideas can publish their work in arxiv archive and get the credits. I graduated a while ago and so have no endorsers, where shall I publish?

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David S. wrote on Mar. 20, 2008 @ 17:45 GMT
The current funding system at FQXi does an excellent job imho of supporting alternative ideas among those who (for the most part) are already part of the physics community. The question is this: what is the best way to find and support someone who has no connection whatsoever to the physics community?

I would suggest that FQXi could do a lot with a minimum of expense (much less than the average $75.5K per grant from the most recent funding cycle) by taking applications from those who are completely disconnected from the physics community and providing "grants" in the form of a professional review. Applicants could submit a paper as if submitting to a journal. FQXi could then pick the most promising-looking of these (based on a very cursory review) and then provide a review to someone who otherwise might be unable to obtain a review from a standard journal. Some of these journals, e.g. Foundations of Physics, might actually appreciate FQXi for doing this because it might decrease the number of alternative submissions that they get.

Reviews could be provided by FQXi members; alternatively, FQXi could provide grant money ($1K, $2K ??) that would go towards paying a reviewer who may or may not be an FQXi member. This would be a fee-for-service system that to my knowledge would be a major innovation to the peer-review system. Although a fee-for-service peer-review system might be frowned upon, it just might be the only feasible way for someone totally out of the mainstream to get any meaningful feedback whatsoever.

What do people think about a system like that?

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Anonymous wrote on Aug. 25, 2010 @ 20:40 GMT
You should grant or hire DiMeglio.

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