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A Blue Teacup Is Blue Because_

Maybe this is not such a radical idea after all. We all know that a chemical substance is defined by how it reacts, a biological species is defined according to the niche it occupies in the biosphere, and what defines us as human beings is our relationships. Think of a simple object such as a blue teacup. Its being blue is not a property of the cup alone: colours happen in our brain as a result of the structure of the receptors in the retina of our eyes and as a consequence of the interactions between daylight and the cup’s surface.


237 reads


Giving A Black Box To A Species That Likes To Box Things Itselt

Quantum theory treats any physical system as a black box: if you do this to it now, it will react like that later. What happens in between? The theory simply doesn’t tell us.

Many scientists are content with this, but others are puzzled. Among the latter, some make hypothes...


440 reads

A Teacup Is A Teacup Because_

Its being “a teacup” refers to its potential function as a drinking vessel: for an alien who doesn’t know about drinking tea, the very notion of a teacup is meaningless. What is more, its stability as an object depends on the timescale in which we consider it: take a longer view and it is...


205 reads

Reality Is The Sum Of Relationships

If this is correct, it comes with a lesson. We understand reality better if we think of it in terms of interactions, not individuals. We, as individuals, exist thanks to the interactions we are involved in. This is why, in classic game theory, the winners in the long run...


283 reads

Also, Quantum Theory: “Never Mind How I Solved It.”

Yet, a century after quantum theory’s birth, something remains deeply puzzling it. Unlike its illustrious predecessor, Newton’s classical mechanics, it does not tell us how physical systems behave. Instead, it confines itself to predicting the probability that a physical system will a...


624 reads

Reality Is A Network Of Processes

So quantum physics may just be the realisation that this ubiquitous relational structure of reality continues all the way down to the elementary physical level. Reality is not a collection of things, it’s a network of processes.


261 reads

“I Am, Because I Relate To.”

The idea that reality is a sum of relations instead of objects, entities or substances is still radical, although the possibility that this could be what quantum physics is telling us about nature was first suggested a quarter of a century ago. For a while it remained largely unnoticed, then maj...


311 reads

“I Am, Because I Affect.”

Another idea has recently begun to catch on. Perhaps there is no need to make anything up about what lies behind quantum theory.

Perhaps it really does reveal to us the deep structure of reality, where a property is no more than something that affects something els...


414 reads

For Anything To Exist, It Must Make Some Difference To Something

And in the eastern tradition, the Buddhist philosopher Nāgārjuna’s central notion of “emptiness” (śūnyatā) tells us that all things are empty of intrinsic existence and nature (svabhava), or, in other words, that nothing has independent existence: anything that exists, exists thanks to, a...


279 reads

For Anything To Exist, It Must Have An Effect

There is a strikingly similar definition of existence at the root of the western philosophical tradition. Plato’s The Sophist contains the following phrase: “Anything which possesses any sort of power to affect another, or to be affected by another, if only for a single moment, h...


278 reads

Quantum Theory: “Here, I Solved Your Problem.”

Quantum theory is perhaps the most successful scientific idea ever. So far, it has never been proved wrong. It is stupendously predictive, it has clarified the structure of the periodic table, the functioning of the sun, the colour of the sky, the nature of chemical bonds, the fo...


838 reads




“An idea is something that won’t work unless you do.” - Thomas A. Edison

From subatomic particles to human beings, interaction is what shapes reality.

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Colour Is A Private Sensation

  • Research proves that the universal emotional responses that we have when we see a colour tend to be the same, even if the actual colour is different, as our conscious perception of those colours varies.
  • The day-night cycle of living things is impacted by t...


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