Frank Wilczek, Professor of Physics, MIT, Cambridge, MA
Founding Director and Chief Scientist, Wilczek Quantum Center
at the T. D. Lee Institute, Shanghai
Distinguished Origins Professor, Arizona State University
Article(s): Why Change Without Change Is One of the Fundamental Principles of the Universe
• Physics Today, 312. Scaling Mt. Planck I: A View from the Bottom (June 2001)
• Physics Today, 321. Scaling Mt. Planck II: Base Camp (Nov 2001)
• Physics Today, 328. Scaling Mt. Planck III: Is That All There Is? (August 2002)
• A Prodigy Who Cracked Open the Cosmos (January 2021)
ArXiv: Dimensionless constants, cosmology & other dark matters, 2006
• Fundamental Constants, 2007
Book(s): A Beautiful Question,2015; Longing for the Harmonies, 1988; and many, many others
Homepage (s): Personal, Axions, Anyons, Time Crystals (video), Nobel laureate (2004),
InspireHEP, Templeton Award (2022) Twitter Wikipedia YouTube
Cited over 38 times, please use the internal search icon, to find the references to Wilczek.
Most recent email: 25 October 2022 at 1:34 PM
I am working on this homepage for tomorrow: https://81018.com/penultimates/
We’ve underestimated Planck’s base units, infinitesimal spheres, and pi (π).
These appear to be among the penultimates of physics and mathematics:
I. Planck Base Units. Practically ignored for about 100 years, in 2001 Frank Wilczek put Planck’s base units on a fast track for adoption by our scientific community, yet those Planck units remain enigmatic and are still questioned by some.
Then, in the footnote, for the very first time, I was critical of you:
 Wilczek. Webpages: https://81018.com/wilczek/ and Physics Today, 312. 321 and 328.
Endnotes (BEC Comment): In his latest work, Fundamentals: Ten Keys to Reality, I was disappointed that Wilczek used the words, “after the Big Bang.” With its current raft of problems, I had hoped that he would hold back from reaffirming the big bang. Even after ten years I recognize that he’s not quite ready to affirm our natural inflation with base-2 notation, the Planck base units, infinitesimal spheres and pi, yet I still have hopes that maybe someday he will. He must somehow believe that the Planck base units are a remote part of the bing bang singularity. We met on two occasions; if we ever meet again, I’ll ask him that question.
I thought you might appreciate learning about this page from me. Thanks.
Email: 7 October 2022 at 5:34 PM
Does the James Webb Space Telescope open a door that the Hubble found? Is smoothness a problem for big bang cosmology? What else will we discover along the way? I suspect the galaxy count will put pressure on our grasp of time. Are these snapshots by redshift of the same phenomenon? That should be relatively simple to determine. Perhaps each then needs to be segmented by notation. It is all still quite a mashup of concepts, services, issues, solutions, tools, platforms, applications and the like. I am asking questions in our rendition of the story here: https://81018.com/reason/ Thanks.
P.S. The embedded link: https://81018.com/analysis/#Time The first instance of this definition within this website. -BEC
Email: June 14, 2022 at 2:45 PM
Precis. In 2001 Frank Wilczek wrote three “Scaling Mt. Planck” articles. In 2004 when he won the Nobel (with Gross and Politzer) those Physics Today articles became priceless! Planck’s base units had been grossly undervalued for over 100 years. For me those articles were an awakening, so I wanted to thank Wilczek and ask a few questions. On a brisk January day in 2013, we met in his MIT office. He encouraged us high school people to continue to study the Planck Length. We did. Yet, the more we studied, the more we realized that our simple construction was idiosyncratic …https://81018.com/editors/
I hope your summer is looking like a great one. As you can see above, you are at the top of the homepage this week: https://81018.com/editors/
Also, you might find this forthcoming homepage of some interest: https://81018.com/known/ I am hoping that I can work this idiosyncratic stuff out of my system before I die!
Thanks for everything.
Email: 11 May 2022 at 11:16 AM
RE: Announcing the 2022 Templeton Prize Winner, Dr. Frank Wilczek
Congratulations, indeed, to both Frank Wilczek and Heather Templeton Dill. Perhaps the next step in remythologizing God and belief with universals and constants is to see continuity, symmetry and harmony, three of the staples of Wilczek’s insights, and declare, “Here is the bridge between the finite and infinite whereby the finite is quantitative (numerical, discrete, etc) and the infinite is the qualitative (the continuity, symmetry and harmony of pi).”
Perhaps the agnostics and atheists can relax a little.
Lifting up continuity, symmetry and harmony is not quite so imposing as religious beliefs and it’s a bridge!
Best wishes, Frank! Warmest regards to Betsy Devine!
Email: 16 January 2022 at 8:22 AM
I hope all is well with you and your families and associates.
I haven’t given up yet, however, at 74, one never knows when that little exit ramp will appear.
This is how I began this week’s article:
The first particle has all the structural and dynamic elements of a most simple sphere. Also, it is defined by the four Planck base units of time, length, mass and charge. It is an infinitesimal, archetypal, primordial sphere that defines the first moment of space-time. The Planck scale is also defined by dimensionless constants so here we propose several mechanisms to begin to bridge the Planck scale with the electroweak scale as currently understood within particle physics. Our base-2 Planck scale originated in 2011 and it begs for more analysis. For example, if Planck Time also defines a rate of expansion by taking as a given that there is one “Planck particle” per unit of Planck Time and Planck Length, this becomes a different model of our universe. Seemingly logical, we have suspended our harshest judgments in order to explore whatever mechanisms we can imagine in light of the Standard Model for Cosmology (ΛCDM or Lambda cold dark matter) and the Standard Model for Particle Physics with all their successes and problems. [*].- BEC
Key words: Structure of spacetime at the Planck Scale, Planck particle, physics at the Planck scale, shell particle, plancksphere, infinitesimal sphere, archetypal sphere, sphere dynamics
The prequel: https://81018.com/primordial/ (stretching) https://81018.com/almost/ (de-Hilbertizing)
Of all the people of the world, there are a handful, with you among them, who immediately grasp all these possibilities. I wish you well,
Email: May 13, 2021, 7:29 AM
Could it all have started with pi?
I don’t think anybody else that you know would ask such a question. Yet, I suspect that you may have asked it yourself. On its face, it is so out of the mainstream as to be laughable. But, I have no reputation. People can laugh.
I have five key concepts to start and four to grow. That’s today’s homepage: http://81018.com
Later it will be accessed by its actual URL: https://81018.com/starts/
Just a crazy idea or does it have a peculiar, sweet, naive logic? Thanks.
Email: March 14, 2021, 7:29 AM
Happy Pi Day!
My tribute: https://81018.com/challenge/
Just now learning about Connes et. al. Spectral Standard Model.
I saw the picture of the Westinghouse festivities and decided that you were 1 or 2.
I was glad to see that I was wrong about my first guess. #2 is more aware of the purpose of the moment.
Wonderful story. -Bruce
Email: February 6, 2021, 7:29 AM
• The first instant of space-time of our universe is defined by the Planck base units.
• A primordial sphere manifests, again defined by the Planck units and pi.
• With the sphere are the de facto harmonies of the Fourier Transform.
• There is one PlanckSphere per PlanckSecond.
• The rate of expansion is 539.116 tredecillion planckspheres per second.
… Planck Time is equal to 5.39116×10−44 seconds.
• The PlanckSphere is the most essential, foundational unit to define the universe.
• That PlanckSphere is foundationally defined by pi.
• Pi (and the sphere) are defined by continuity-symmetry-harmony.
• The Planck base units uniquely identify every instant and everything within the universe.
• These Planck base units are dynamic numbers constantly expanding with every instant.
• We apply base-2 notation to instantiate a system for counting planckspheres.
…There are just 202 notations from that first instant to this very moment in time.
• The first 64 notations are generally below our thresholds for measurement.
… It is a domain for Langlands programs and string theory and consciousness.
Email: Friday, February 1, 2019 at 8:42 PM
Dear Prof. Dr. Frank Wilczek,
With every passing day, I confront the depths of my naiveté and learn a little more about just how radically-idiosyncratic, our simple, mathematical model of the universe is. I think my 2016 explanation — https://81018.com/why-now/ — captures the key reasons. Big bang cosmology has been hiding the Planck scale. It hides the robustness of natural inflation. It hides the simple doubling mechanisms. Of course, I believe it has seriously blocked our view since 1973 with that little booklet by Ellis / Hawking).
Would you entertain a new series of three articles for Physics Today in light our chart and the first assumptions? You have my permission to just rake it over the coals!
Email: Saturday, January 26, 2019, 6:31 PM
Do you follow the work of Julian Barbour, shape dynamics? He has the Now part of the equation, but Planck’s numbers are not deep in his equations. His simple response, “…it makes no sense to me as a physicist,” doesn’t clarify issues around the Planck numbers or the strained-but obvious concurrence with the base-2 natural inflation and big bang epochs. The first three minutes is rather challenging and a gift.
What say you, dear professor? Thank you. -Bruce
Email: Wednesday, May 10, 2017 at 8:08 PM
Dear Prof. Dr. Frank Wilczek,
I was invited to be part of the NASA SpaceApp challenge. It felt a bit odd being 70 years old among all the millennials, but it was great fun. A group from Stanford wanted to use the data from our horizontally-scrolled chart of the doublings of each of the Planck base units — just over 202 of them — to the Age of the Universe and Observable Universe.
It gave me a chance to reflect on the work to date. This is what I said:
https://81018.com/nasa1/ (third paragraph)
“History lessons. Though Max Planck developed the basic math for these units between 1899 and 1905, it wasn’t until 2001 when a Nobel laureate, Frank Wilczek of MIT lifted these numbers out of the category of numerology. He had written a series of articles, Scaling Mt. Planck (2001) and slowly the Planck’s units began becoming part of the core of accepted scientific thought.
“I don’t know if you ever bumped into Ed Fredkin. I don’t think you two overlapped at MIT. He told me back in my earlier times with these numbers (2012), that he was one of the few people who did not believe in Planck’s base units. Only today did I catch up with the Fredkin finite nature hypothesis where there is the claim, “…ultimately all quantities of physics, including space and time, are discrete and finite. All measurable physical quantities arise from some Planck scale substrate for multiverse information processing.”
I suspect the substrate is the 65 notations from the base units to the CERN scale. Yes, but who am I? Nobody from nowhere. I hope that the above reference is OK. Thanks.
Email: Saturday, April 22, 2017
Dear Prof. Dr. Frank Wilczek:
I have written the following two paragraphs about your work on the Planck units. Does it capture the spirit? Would you have me change anything? Thanks.
“Although Max Planck began developing these numbers in 1899 and first published them in 1906, nobody paid much attention to them until 2001 when Frank Wilczek (MIT) began publishing three articles for Physics Today around the title, Scaling Mt. Planck (312, 321, 328). Others had done significant work using one or more of the Planck numbers, yet the citations began to break open with the Wilczek articles.
“Yet, there were others who had even earlier intuitions about the significance of these numbers. In 1959 C. Alden Mead (UMinn) began his struggle to published his work about the Planck Length. Though finally published in 1964, the article, Possible Connection Between Gravitation and Fundamental Length Phys. Rev. 135, B849 (10 August 1964), was ignored by the scholarly community. Planck Length commanded no respect as a fundamental unit of length.”
Friday, October 21, 2016 email
These statements have been sent to Stephen Hawking, Alan Guth, Max Tegmark, Frank Wilczek, and Freeman Dyson.
Another email: March 24, 2016 Work began at MIT, long ago!
From the LinkedIn blog:
Physics Today (Mead – Wilczek discussions – Ref. 9): Though formulated in 1899 and 1900, the Planck Length received very little attention until 1959 when C. Alden Mead of the University of Minnesota submitted a paper proposing that the Planck Length and Planck Time should “…play a more fundamental role in physics.” Though published in Physical Review in 1964, very little positive feedback was forthcoming. Frank Wilczek in that 2001 Physics Today article comments that “…C. Alden Mead’s discussion is the earliest that I am aware of.” He posited the Planck constants as real realities within experimental constructs whereby these constants became more than mathematical curiosities. More…
From a posting titled, “Could The Planck Length Be The Next Big Thing? Could Planck Time Be A Gateway To The Universe?”
Oxford physicist-philosopher, Roger Penrose16 calls it, Conformal Cyclic Cosmology made popular within his book, Cycles of Time. In a September 24, 2008 interview on NBC News (Cosmic Log), Frank Wilczek of MIT simply calls this domain, the Grid,17 and the most complete review of it is within his book, The Lightness of Being. We know with just two years of work on our model, the so-called Big Board – little universe chart and much less time on our compact table, we will be exploring those 60-to-65 initial steps most closely for years to come. This project will be in an early-stage development for a lifetime. More…
From the web postings within the Big Board-little universe:
Notwithstanding, there is a substantial amount of work that has been done within the academic and scientific communities with all the Planck numbers and those base numbers that were used to create the five Planck base units. Perhaps chemistry professor, C. Alden Mead of the University of Minnesota began the process in 1959 when he first tried publishing a paper using the Planck units with serious scientific intent. Physics professor Frank Wilczek of MIT was the first to write popular articles about the Planck units in 2001 in Physics Today (312, 321, 328). From that year, the number of articles began to increase dramatically and experimental work that make use of these numbers has increased as a result. More…
Fourth email: Thursday, January 17, 2013, 3:32 PM
I am making progress on all your enclosed articles and then with some of the referenced articles from within each. I understand why you are a Nobel laureate, yet none of the students quite believe that a Nobel laureate would make time for them. Might it be possible to come by your office to snap a quick picture of you and me, perhaps with a note on a white board behind us that says something like, “John Curtis geometry students- keep studying the Planck Length and the five platonic solids! You may find something important.”
I know it is a lot to ask but it has been awhile since the school sent MIT a student.
Third email: December 23, 2012, 1:35 PM
I find comfort in your words where you said, “…Planck’s proposal for a system of units based on fundamental physical constants was, when it was made, formally correct but rather thinly rooted in fundamental physics.” (Reference: “Scaling Mt. Planck I: A View from the Bottom” in Physics Today, June 2001, p 13).
You are helping me to put things in perspective. I have a new appreciation for how slowly science can move.
I am thoroughly enjoying those four attachments and any references like your “Future Summary” to which they refer: http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-ph/0101187 As a result of your spirited writings and gracious interactions, I am now committed to reading the entire Wilczek corpus. You are a most remarkable thinker and scholar.
Certainly by comparison I have had a chunky-clunky history. https://81018.com/bec/
However, I would like to point you to one short piece of work that I did long, long ago. It is also thinly rooted in fundamental physics, however, you might find it of some small interest given the season and your history with theological belief systems recorded in your Nobel biography.
Blessings to you and your family and to your future work in the New Year… I am off to bury my thinking within your writing. I know it won’t be easy, but what a way to start the new year!
“…the Planck length is not a substance or law, just a rough concept. So for example twice or half the Planck length would be just as good as the Planck length itself, as a concept — it’s basically a matter of convention which you use.” Dec 20, 2012, 7:38 AM
Second email: Dec 19, 2012, 10:32 PM
Dear Prof. Dr. Frank Wilczek:
Our problem is the Planck Length. What is it? We do not know anything other than that specific calculation and its derivation.
Is it a point? If so, and even though it may be a dimensionless or a dimensionful number, when you multiply it by two, do you have two points? When you multiply it by two again, are there four points, then eight points, then sixteen points, and so on?
That is what we have done and before we go too, too far, we want somebody of authority to tell us it is OK? We want to know that we aren’t doing something egregiously stupid. These are high school kids. I do not want to lead them down a blind alley even though their little thought experiment gave rise to their Big Board – little universe. They have studied Kees Boeke’s base-10 and the Morrison’s Powers of Ten (Scientific American Library, 1994) (Phil Morrison was a personal friend). At this point I believe there has been no one who has used base-2 and the 202.34 notations as a sweet ordering mechanism for information.
The students are now taking images from the Argonne National Lab and Nikon’s Small World studies and are applying them to notations 65 to 101. We currently have eight images within the large scale universe — notations 140 to 202.34 and we are having great fun learning about our little universe using the Planck Length as a guiding measurement!
Is it an OK thing to be doing?
PS. I have read much of your attachment of quantum beauty and have found the Pythagoras-Plato-Planck a great review. The discussion of Maxwell, is inspirational and I am going back so I perfectly understand your symmetry comments. We admire your work!
First email: Friday, December 14, 2012 at 5:40 PM
Our first email to 2004 Nobel laureate, MIT physics professor, Frank Wilczek
Bruce Camber wrote:
Dear Prof. Dr. Frank Wilczek:
Back ten days ago, we sent this note through your resources page
within your website — http://frankwilczek.com/resources.html
It is from five high school geometry classes.
We have a model of the universe and we are not sure what to do with it.
We started with one meter and divided it in half as if it
were an edge of a tetrahedron, and then we continued dividing
in half until we got down in the area of the Planck Length. Later,
we used the Planck Length and used base-2 exponential notation
to go out the 202+ steps to the edges of the observable universe.
We used Plato’s five basics as an inherent continuity equation and
It seems too easy, perhaps a bit of poppycock, but we don’t know
why. The question now is how to continue to develop it. Is it a useful
ordering system (STEM project)? Or, could it possibly be more?
We don’t know. After all, we are just five high school geometry classes.
Is it just a bit of silliness? Or, might it be useful? We (the kids and
teachers), are anxious to know. We will be having a major discussion about it
next week with all five classes. Thanks. -Bruce
Note: We first found you here:
Alden Mead’s 1959 paper Physics Today, Alden Response PDF
Other primary references: Problem of Strong P and T Invariance in the Presence of Instantons, F. Wilczek, Phys. Rev. Lett. 40, 279 – Published 30 January 1978