Ismael, Jenann

Jenann Ismael
Department of Philosophy
Columbia University
New York, NY

Articles: Passage, Flow, and the Logic of Temporal Perspectives
Homepage  (Columbia). (QISS)

References within this website:
See: Foundational Questions Institute (FQXi)

Second email: January 30, 2022 @ 5:55 PM

RE: FQXi article by John Farrell, “Can Time Be Saved From Physics?” regarding Craig Callender’s Lakatos award-winning bookWhat Makes Time Special?” Columbia University philosopher Jenann Ismael notes that timing played a role in the meeting’s success. “I think many of us had been coming to the same ideas from different directions, and—with Craig’s book just out for a while, and Carlo Rovelli’s The Order of Time released the first day of the conference—it felt like kind of a moment,” she says. Ismael notes that while participants at the meeting were able to learn from others from different disciplines, there are still huge points of contention between the different academic cultures. Physicists in general, are “more inclined to dismiss passage, flow and the sense of openness of the future as illusions,” she says.


Dear Prof. Dr. Jenann Ismael:

I would like to respond to your comments above from within John Farrell’s article, “Can Time Be Saved From Physics?” My question: “Why can’t we use the Planck base units as a starting point?”

Here is a copy of my post about that article:

Planck Time (tP) opens basic questions. First, tP is a direct correlation and necessary relation with a length and light in much the same way Einstein’s well-known equation, e=mcnecessarily and dynamically relates mass, energy and light. These four Planck base units are each natural units using only the most fundamental universal constants to define them. Could these four base units and light (and the dimensionless constants that contribute to the essential natural of the Standard Model of Physics) be the very first moment in time? Could the universe start cold on one hand and hot on the other? “Light” blasts In on one hand, and an infinitesimally “cold” (close to absolute zero Kelvin) start on the other. Impossible? Planck Temperature light on one side an infinitesimally first particle defined by Planck Length and Planck Time on the other. A primordial, archetypal sphere coming at you at one sphere per unit of Planck Time renders 539 tredecillion spheres per second. That’s a nice expansion. If the light is cooling according to the inverse square law, we have dynamics that John Archibald Wheeler’s creativity never imagined. It’s Johnny’s old quantum foam. Now, what if there is an application of cubic close packing of equal spheres (ccp) at this scale and the stacking amounts to a doubling? Within 202 doublings of base-2 notations these Planck base units have become the age of the universe, the size of the universe, the total mass of the universe, and the total energy of the universe, and yes, it is still happening right now. Crazy, yes! Idiosyncratic, yes! But why not explore such a simple model? Some aspect of all that has been our effort since December 2011:  To see a chart of the numbers and to get a sense of the emergence and natural inflation:

It is too simple, so simple it seems a bit of silliness.  But if you look at the numbers, there is a sweet logic that prevails.

I would be very pleased to hear from you. Thank you.

First email: 19 October 2018

Dear Prof. Dr. Jenann Ismael:

I started seeing references to you and your work regarding the structure of space and time. Then, came FQXi, then symmetry, Rovelli’s work, a conference about time at Perimeter… so I started to investigate. When I do, I create this little reference page along with a copy of my notes as I struggle to see how it all fits together.

Since December 2011 we have been studying an application of base-2 notation from the Planck base units to the age and size of the universe. We know well that it falls outside the normal work within physics-philosophy-mathematics today. But, such a simple concept renders rather unusual-even surprising results:
• There are just over 202 doublings. Our working numbers:
• Too small to measure, the first 64 notations:
• Does it address the derivative structure of space-time?
• The doublings create a natural inflation:
• Perhaps it is just too simple. The first second emerges within the 143rd notation.
• The 202nd notation has a processing speed of 10.9816 billion years and I am not sure what it means to be just 2.8 billion years into it!

I thought you might find it all of interest. I don’t think it’s just poppycock… If it is, it seems we’ll have to re-examine the foundations of logic, mathematics, and integrity, and the concepts of continuity and symmetry!

On leave from Columbia, I hope your work is going very well and you are making very special progress. I would be delighted to hear from you either way, poppycock or not poppycock!

Thank you.



Smolin, Lee

Lee Smolin


Founding member and Senior Faculty
Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics

Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

ArXiv   CV   Homepage    Twitter Wiki
P.S. An excellent little website, Crisis-in-Physics, once summarized and gave access to this professor’s articles. Unfortunately it has been shut down.

Fourth email: Thursday, December 30, 2020

Dear Prof. Dr. Lee Smolin:

You, Frank Wilczek, Paul Davies, and a few other leading scholars
are open enough to tell us why our simple construct (of the universe) just
might warrant further attention. It came out of a high school geometry class.

We did a simple thought experiment and went deeper and deeper within
the tetrahedron and its internal octahedron by dividing the edges in two
and connecting the new vertices. In 45 steps we were in the size range
of particle physics. In 67 more steps within we were studying the Planck
base units. We also doubled our original models; and, in just 90 steps, we
were out to the age and size of the universe. We created a chart with all
that very simple math:

It was intriguing because our cold start (like Lemaitre’s 1927 model) actually
compared favorably with an infinitely-hot start. Of course, our start had
a natural inflation and easily accommodated homogeneity and isotropy.

Shall we continue to pursue our simple model where base-2 notation
has been applied to the Planck base units? All notations are dynamic,
there is a perpetual start, the first 201 notations are symmetric, and that
arrow of time exists only in Notation-202. I think it has a lot going for it,
but it needs scholarly counsel and perspective. Thank you.

Most sincerely,

PS. Happy New Year! My hope is that everyone has a better year, but
I will admit, my optimism has been dented and tarnished… -BEC

Third email: Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Dear Prof. Dr. Lee Smolin:

Congratulations on all that you have done, especially for the Perimeter Institute. Phenomenal.

We are creating links to your work and the Perimeter Institute. As our journey progresses, there will be two pages about Perimeter —  — and a brief overview of the conference, Time in Cosmology ( )

There is also a general overview page of your work:

If there is anything you’d like changed, please just say the word!


* * * *
Bruce Camber

PS. Yes, I know how naive and idiosyncratic our work is. The simplicity of the logic and math, however, has caught our attention. The numbers seem to speak louder than words. Although temperature is a problem, I think in time we’ll be able to adjust that line of figures with some kind of “reasonable” rationale. -B

Our second email: July 25, 2016

Dear Prof. Dr. Lee Smolin:

I swear the years are becoming superluminal they’re going so fast.
It’s the Inflationary Epoch all over again.

In 2011 a group of high school folks (teachers and students) began mapping the universe using base-2 exponential notation from the Planck base units to the Age of the Universe. We fell into a tetrahedron and kept sliding to the center…

We tried using The Trouble with Physics as our rappelling ropes, but around the 67th notation, down with the fermions and protons, those ropes quickly turned to strings so we dropped into a virtual free fall until squeezed at the door of “the singularity” with Max’s secret codes. Wilczek gave us some clues on interpreting the codes. We just got lucky and found our way out and then went up the next 90 notations to the Now.  Quite a trip. Just over 200 notations! 65 or so had never been explored! Incredible, isn’t it? Just a silly daydream?  Could there be anything to it?

So, we’ve been at it now for five years and eight months.
It’s time to get real or get serious. Can you help us?

All criticism is highly valued and encouraged!

Most sincerely,

First email:  20 September 2010
New Orleans


Dear Prof. Dr. Lee Smolin:

Your work has fascinated me over the years. You have always been larger than life. But now, we are getting older and genius seems to be more approachable with the web.

You know the tetrahedron. You know the octahedron. The quick question: What is perfectly enclosed within the octahedron? If you half the edges and push an octahedron in each corner, you’ll have a start. I wonder if you quickly knew the answer to that very simple, basic question about structure.

Most of the folks I have asked since friend and colleague David Bohm died in 1992 pull a blank. John Conway, and some of Bucky and Arthur Loeb’s folks figure it out or just know (back in the ‘70s I was part of Loeb’s Philomorphs).

I am looking in on your work that is posted on the web and then I will dig even deeper. I thought you might enjoy the simple question(please let me know if you knew the answer). I suspect you do not think it really matters. But wait, maybe it does…. Thank you.


Bruce Camber

PS. If you have a moment and you want to know more about why I think it does:
This is what I said to Len Mlodinow, Stephen Hawking’s collaborator (and the background story about Bohm):

We all need a summary statement about life and its meaning and value:

A little start on a TOE:

Of course, we should try to foment some anxiety for all those who have all the answers:

A conference at Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics:

Time in Cosmology
sponsored by the Templeton Foundation
Monday, June 27, 2016 to Thursday, June 30, 2016
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

The Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. “…an independent, resident-based research institute devoted to foundational issues in theoretical physics at the highest levels of international excellence.”

List of the attendees. This list will be expanded with links to their key work in the area of time. Those highlighted and bold have received an email query/question, “What is wrong with this simple base-2 model?” As often as possible, the date, time, and contents of each email will be linked as a separate page accessed by clicking on their name (only if linked).

  1. Afshordi, Niayesh: Perimeter Institute, Univ. Waterloo, ArXiv  CV Homepage  PhD Twitter
  2. Ahmadzadegan, Aida: University of Waterloo
  3. Albert, David: Columbia University
  4. Albrecht, Andreas: UC, Davis, Arrow of time  ArXiv Twitter  Wiki YouTube
  5. Alexander, Stephon: Brown University
  6. Ashtekar, Abhay: Pennsylvania State University
  7. Bardeen, James: University of Washington
  8. Bond, Richard: CITA
  9. Boos, Jens: Perimeter Institute
  10. Brandenberger, Robert: McGill University
  11. Canelas, Jimena: Harvard University
  12. Carroll, Sean: California Institute of Technology, ArXiv Homepage Twitter  Wiki  YouTube
  13. Dittrich, Bianca: Perimeter Institute
  14. Dowker, Fay: Imperial College London
  15. Drossel, Barbara: Darmstadt University of Technology
  16. Elitzur, Avshalom: Israeli Institute for Advanced Research,
  17. Ellis, George: University of Cape Town, GoogleScholar  SA   Wiki
  18. Frank, Adam: University of Rochester,  Video
  19. Freidel, Laurent: Perimeter Institute
  20. Glaser, Lisa: University of Nottingham
  21. Gomes, Henrique de Andrade: Perimeter Institute
  22. Gryb, Sean: Radboud University Nijmegen
  23. Gubitosi, Giulia: Imperial College London
  24. Hardy, Lucien: Perimeter Institute
  25. Husain, Viqar: University of New Brunswick
  26. Ismael, Jenann: Columbia University  (formerly University of Arizona)
  27. Kaufmann, Stuart: University of Calgary
  28. Keating, Brian: University of California, San Diego
  29. Kowlowski, Tim: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
  30. Kowalski-Glikman, Jurek: University of Wroclaw, Video
  31. Liddle, Andrew: University of Edinburgh
  32. Loll, Renate: Radboud University, Nijmegen, Video at Perimeter
    Arxiv   What is space?  Renormalization 81018
  33. Magueijo, Joao: Imperial College London
  34. Mann, Robert: University of Waterloo
  35. Mercati, Flavio: Perimeter Institute
  36. Mozota, Alvaro: Perimeter Institute
  37. Mueller, Markus: Perimeter Institute & University of Western Ontario
  38. Muller, Richard: UC – Berkeley, ArXiv Blog CV Homepage Quora Wiki  YouTube
  39. Nayeri, Ali: Chapman University
  40. Nelson, Elliot: Perimeter Institute
  41. Oriti, Daniele: Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics
  42. Rejzner, Kaisa: Perimeter Institute
  43. RovelliCarlo: Universite de la Mediterranee,   ArXiv: Time’s arrow perspectival    CV   Twitter    Video   YouTube
  44. Smeenk, Christopher: University of Western Ontario
  45. Smerlak, Matteo: Perimeter Institute
  46. Soo, Chopin: National Cheng Kung University
  47. Sorkin, Rafael: Perimeter Institute
  48. Spekkens, Robert: Perimeter Institute
  49. Turok, Neil: Perimeter Institute, ArXiv  Book: The Universe Within TED: Working on a model of the universe that explains the big bang Twitter   Wiki YouTube   Video: The Astonishing Simplicity of Everything
  50. Vidotto, Francesca: Radboud University Nijmegen
  51. Weinstein, Steve: University of Waterloo
  52. Weltman, Amanda: University of Cape Town
  53. Wieland, Wolfgang: Perimeter Institute
  54. Yang, I-Sheng: Perimeter Institute
  55. Participant Organizer: Cortes, Marina: Institute for Astronomy
  56. Participant Organizer: Smolin, Lee, founder, Perimeter Institute,  ArXiv   CV   Homepage    Twitter   Wiki
  57. Participant Organizer: Unger, Roberto Mangabeira: Harvard Law School
    Homepage   Twitter    Wiki    YouTube

On a homepage here…

And on another page there…

On learning a little about the work of Niayesh Afshordi…

Niayesh_AfshordiNiayesh Afshordi, Perimeter Institute (PI) and University of Waterloo,
Department of Physics and Astronomy, Waterloo, Ontario

ArXivOut of the White Hole: A Holographic Origin for the Big Bang (2013)
Homepage(s): CV, Waterloo, Facebook, PhD, Twitter
YouTube: Reflections on Spacetime (See notes on that page), 2017

Key Quote: “…empirical evidence and theoretical insights from particle physics, astrophysics, and cosmology point to a concrete and more fundamental paradigm for spacetime.”

Second email:  20 June 2022 at 3:01 PM

Dear Prof Dr. Niayesh Afshordi:

Your sheer joy within the picture above gives the viewer encouragement and hope. It’s been six years since my first note so I went looking for your latest work and discovered your May 2022 article from the Fundamental Physics Working Group of the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) Consortium. I was glad to see Lisa Randall, Claudia de Rham, AND Stefan Vandoren, were a part of the team. If you can take time to look at two recent documents — Concepts That Shift Paradigms (. ) and The Universe As A Totally-Integrated System (. ), your comments would be invaluable. Thank you.



PS. You might also take a look at this page — — about basic geometry! Thanks again. -BEC

First email: 6 June 2016

Our reference regarding big bang cosmology:
Our referencing page:

Dear Prof Dr. Niayesh Afshordi:

I have gotten to know you through your writings on the web. The link above goes to our posting critical of the Big Bang. It begins:

“In September 2014 for the first time we publicly raised questions about the big bang theory (herein abbreviated “bbt“). Of course, Stephen Hawking has always been its biggest and best salesperson. He has become a rock star among scientists, especially with his PBS-TV series, Genius, and the continued updating-and-capitalizing on his 1988, best-selling book, A Brief History of Time. In 1973 he co-authored his first book about the the subject, The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time.

“Only a fool would dare challenge his (Hawking) work.”

So, such is life; each of us must at sometime play the fool. Much further down I say:

“The key: More than just the bbt‘s four forces of nature within the Planck scale, we assume a certain unification of all the Planck base units and those constants that define them, and that this unification is carried through the entire 202 base-2 exponential notations to the current time and present day (until proven to be otherwise). The Planck base units are defined by length, time, mass and charge. These Planck units are further defined by the speed of light (or special relativity), the gravitational constant (or general relativity), the reduced Planck constant (or ħ or quantum mechanics), the Coulomb constant (or ε0 or electric charge or electromagnetism), and the Boltzmann constant (or kB or of temperature).”

I wonder if you might have any comments about our model? …just so much idiosyncratic poppycock?Thank you.

Most sincerely,
Bruce E. Camber


“Dr. Afshordi works in Astrophysics, Cosmology, and Physics of gravity and is obsessed with observational hints that could help address problems in fundamental physics.”

Afshordi regarding the YouTube video above:

“I outline why I think convergence of empirical evidence and theoretical insights from particle physics, astrophysics, and cosmology point to a concrete and more fundamental paradigm for spacetime.”

– Niayesh Afshordi, University of Waterloo, and Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics,  June 14, 2017
Cosmology and the Future of Spacetime conference, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada


Upon discovering the work of Roberto Mangabeira Unger…

Roberto Mangabeira Unger, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts


References within this website:

Second email:  Tuesday, 4 October 2016

RE: Nihilism and the lack of an integrated universe view

Dear Prof. Dr. Roberto Unger:

Thank you for your work on  Beyond Nihilism: Directions in the Spiritual History of Mankind.

In December 2011 we “fell into” an integrated view of the universe that started with the Planck base units and went to the Age of the Universe in just over 200 base-2 notations.     ( )

We believe that was a first for a base-2 progression. It is simple. It is mathematically integrated. And, it just may be a clear alternative to the big bang (and the big bang nihilism).  Most of the people at your conference, Time in Cosmology, at the Perimeter Institute accept the place of the big bang as a given.

To help our students and to attempt to context that diverse dialogue, I have created a few links to the conference and to your work.  There currently are three key pages. First, there was a brief overview of the conference on our homepage, and now,

There is also this page on the conference:

Our general overview page to your work is here:

If there is anything you’d like changed, please just say the word! Thanks.

Now, thinking about time and the large-scale universe, perhaps another conference could be entertained, Time in the small-scale and human scale universe. In less than a second, the universe within this base-2 model has already expanded well in to the large-scale universe. Of the 200 notations, the first second from Planck Time is within notations 144-145. The first day (86400 seconds) is between notations 160 and 161. A light year is between notation 168 and 169. That’s cosmology.

If we engage the numbers generated using base-2 from the Planck base units, it all appears to expand rather quietly right out beyond the need for a big bang.


* * * *
Bruce Camber
New Orleans

PS. Yes, I know how naive and idiosyncratic our work is. The simplicity of the logic and math, however, has caught our attention. The numbers seem to speak louder than words. Although temperature is a problem, I think in time we’ll be able to adjust that line of figures with some kind of “reasonable” rationale, perhaps a different algorithm. -B


First email: January 1, 2015

Roberto Mangabeira Unger
Roscoe Pound Professor of Law

Dear Prof. Dr. Roberto Unger:

I read with great interest your recent work with Lee Smolin.  You may
find two of our very unusual conclusions to be of some interest.

From our work within a high school in New Orleans, we have begun to
believe that there is an ethical bias deep within the very fabric of
the universe:

Also, regarding time, we ask, “Might time simply be a sense of time?”
Within our work time appears to be derivative.  Planck Time provides
the beginning and the Age of the Universe provides the end of a very
finite scale.  There are just 202.34 base-2 exponential notations from
beginning to end; and as you might anticipate, the Planck Length and
Planck Time track well together.  Though I had not see this chart
until we created it, you might find it to be of some interest.

When just a kid in the ’50s, I grew up playing childhood games
throughout the areas of the Law School, Jefferson Lab and the Peabody.
So much has changed!

Best wishes for the New Year.

Most sincerely,

Bruce Camber