Barrow, John David

John David Barrow

John D. Barrow
DAMTP, Centre for Mathematical Sciences
Cambridge University
Wilberforce RoadCambridge CB3 0WA UK

Died: 26 September 2020, 1952-2020

Articles: Natural Units Before Planck
ArXiv:__Finite Action Principle Revisited, January 2020
________Do we live in an eigenstate of the fundamental constants operators? (Dec. 2018)
Books: PI in the Sky: Counting, Thinking, and Being
ArXiv:  Some Generalities About Generality 27 May 2017
Homepage (Royal Society)
Millennium Mathematics Project
YouTube:  Is the world simple or complex? (Nov. 2017); Zero is a hero (Oct. 2017)

Most recent email: Friday, January 31, 2020, 10:03 PM

Dear Prof. Dr. John Barrow:

Yes, I just discovered Finite Action Principle Revisited; the abstract is terrifically intriguing so I’ll be bringing it on the airplane tomorrow. I also discovered your article with Joao Magueijo, “Do we live in an eigenstate of the fundamental constants operators?” Excellent. I’ll bring that along, too!

I hope you are well. My work on the base-2, Planck base units model — — continues. My most recent interpretation of the data is always the homepage or top posting!

Still idiosyncratic after all these years!

Here’s a strange question for you… what percentage, would you guess, of the academic community believes that space-and-time are absolute? Does that part of Newton’s work live on as part of our commonsense worldview? Thanks.



PS. I have a resource page on my site about your work: If you want anything updated or deleted, just say the world. -BEC

First email: Friday, 4 October 2013 17:48


Dear Prof. Dr. John Barrow:

The depth and breadth of your work is simply amazing, truly a gift to this world. However, your Millennium Mathematics Project places your feet firmly on the ground.

I am grateful. So, with your mind in search of meaning throughout the cosmos and your deep understanding of nature of God, I write with great respect.

I have two simple questions:
1. Can we take the Planck Length and multiply it by 2, and then each result by 2, until we are near the edges of the Observable Universe?
2. Does it mean anything? Our high school students (Geometry and Physics classes) thought it was a very neat and orderly way of looking at the universe.

I do not have answers to these two very naive questions.

After we went through the 202-to-205 notations, I told the kids that I would continue doing research and report in. My first attempt to get some help was to write up a Wiki article, but that was kicked off the site as “original research” which for Wikipedia editors means there were no scholarly, published, first-hand references of any one using base-2 notation from the Planck Length to the Observable Universe.

It all started when our high school geometry teacher asked me, “Uncle Bruce, will you take my five classes and introduce them to the Platonic solids?” I did. We especially looked at nested geometries, when the question was asked, “How far in can we go?” That required a review of Zeno and Max Planck and the Planck Length.

It wasn’t long before we just went the other direction! We were quite surprised to learn that there were so few base-2 notations from the smallest to largest measurements of a length.

In our little exercise, simple geometries and number were necessarily related. We could see how we could begin tiling the universe with a simple tetrahedral-octahedral chain, increasingly nested from about the tenth to the 202nd notation.

Might it be of some interest to you and the MMP?




PS. We are well aware of Kees Boeke’s work from 1957 and the Powers of Ten with Phylis and Phil Morrison and the Huang twins’ wonderful scale. Base-10 is not granular enough and has no inherent geometry, albeit we realize that ours is instantiated.

PPS. If you would like to see more, I have been writing it up as we go along so people could follow the path of our thinking:
1. Rough, working draft, possible start of an article
2. The article rejected by Wikipedia

Key Quotes

Fine Structure Constant. “The pure number we call the fine structure constant and denote by α is a combination of the electron chargee, the speed of lightc, and Planck’s constanth. At first we might be tempted to think that a world in which the speed of light was slower would be a different world. But this would be a mistake. If ch, and e were all changed so that the values they have in metric (or any other) units were different when we looked them up in our tables of physical constants, but the value of α remained the same, this new world would be observationally indistinguishable from our world. The only thing that counts in the definition of worlds are the values of the dimensionless constants of Nature. If all masses were doubled in value [including the Planck mass mP], you cannot tell because all the pure numbers defined by the ratios of any pair of masses are unchanged.” John D. BarrowThe Constants of Nature: From Alpha to Omega – The Numbers that Encode the Deepest Secrets of the Universe, Pantheon Books, New York, 2002


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