Be among the first to read about PQR Theory!

Thursday, March 17, 2016 6:18 pm PDT

So far I’ve sent out about 60 preview copies of PQR Theory: How One Can Create a Universe.  It’s not too late to request yours–just click here to send an email to me at  No cost or obligation, but I’d love to hear what you think of it.


Have I solved the mystery of the Universe?

Monday, March 14, 2016 12:35 am PDT

Pi Day (3.14.16) is here and my new book “PQR Theory: How One Can Create a Universe” is now ready for review. Once it appears in print, it will be bound to spark much discussion (and to hold the pages together), but you can be among the first to read it right now..

The book explains how a physical universe like ours can be created using numbers, and points the way to answering some age-old questions like:
–How can we have free will in a deterministic universe?
–What is time?
–What is gravity?
–Why is the space-time continuum an impossibility?
–What did Schrödinger’s cat eat?

Just click here to email me and I’ll send you a pdf of the advance edition for your review and comments. Limited time offer; no cost or obligation.

How One Can Create a Universe

Wednesday, February 17, 2016 8:52 am PDT

Exciting news! Yesterday I finished the draft of my new book PQR Theory: How One Can Create a Universe. If you are interested in seeing an advance copy, please leave a comment, or you can email me privately using the link on

Soddy Quartets–an update

Sunday, February 16, 2014 12:13 pm PDT

Some time ago I mentioned the apparent link between irreducible Soddy Quartets and the Ford Spheres that make up the 2-dimensional Flatrack Model. To recap, a Soddy Quartet is a set of four positive integers (a,b,c,d) that satisfy the equation

      (a+b+c+d)² = 3(a²+b²+c²+d²)

and it is said to be irreducible if these four numbers have no common factor greater than 1. As I noted previously, each such solution to this equation corresponds to exactly one group of four touching bubbles in the Flatrack model. The lines joining the largest three bubbles in such a group–those of orders a, b and c–define a triangle, within which the fourth bubble appears at a later stage (“time d”) in the model’s evolution. (For simplicity I have assumed that a, b, c and d are arranged in increasing order, since the model has a 6-way symmetry that corresponds to rearrangements of a, b and c.) Thus there is a one-to-one correspondence between irreducible Soddy Quartets and the triangles that are formed in the Flatrack model.

I’ve now taken this correspondence a step further. It turns out that any two Soddy Quartets that happen to share the same values of a, b and d, but have different c-values, correspond to two adjacent triangles in the Flatrack that together generate a Ford Sphere of order d. (And, not surprisingly, vice versa.)

For example the two quartets (4,19,25,39) and (4,19,37,39) each satisfy the above equation, and correspond to two adjacent triangles in the Flatrack: one defined by three touching bubbles of orders 4, 19 and 25; the other defined by the same bubbles of orders 4 and 19 plus another touching bubble of order 37. In other words, these two quartets correspond to two triangles that share a side in the Flatrack model. At “time” 39 this side is replaced by a new bubble of order 39 that touches all four of the preceding ones, and the two triangles that together generated this bubble are replaced by four new ones. (These four triangles correspond to the four Soddy Quartets (4,25,39,49), (4,37,39,61), (19,25,39,79) and (19,37,39,91), which can be considered as “existing” from “time” 39 until “times” 49, 61, 79 and 91 respectively.) And so the model evolves.

It seems that two Soddy Quartets can be considered “adjacent” in some sense if they have three numbers in common. I’m hoping that this can give rise to a meaningful measure of distance in the “space” formed by the solutions of this equation.

Now of course the next step is to extend this correspondence to the 3-dimensional model, so I’ve started investigating Gosset Quintets which are solutions to the equation

      (a+b+c+d+e)² = 4(a²+b²+c²+d²+e²)

and can be considered as corresponding to tetrahedrons that “exist” between “times” d and e in the Four-D Froth. However, these tetrahedrons appear to overlap or leave gaps in some places, so some refinement to the equations is needed here. Yet curiously enough as time increases, the total volume of these tetrahedrons consistently converges to just over 98% of the total volume in the model. I don’t know what the missing 2% represents, but I think I’m on a track worth pursuing.

A mechanism for gravity?

Thursday, July 26, 2012 1:11 pm PDT

I recently realized something about the way my models could exhibit gravity-like phenomena.  If you recall, the models give a “space” that is constantly subdividing into ever-smaller granules as the “time” evolves.  (We then multiply by a scaling factor to keep the size of the newest granules constant, which produces an expanding model universe.)  The physical model can also be viewed as a “space” defined by an expanding graph of connected points, with new points continually appearing in between the existing ones.

If, however, this “space” does not subdivide where it is occupied by “matter” (or, more generally, if the regions of “space” that contain the most “matter” are the regions which subdivide the most slowly), then, when we apply the scaling factor, space would appear to expand fastest in those regions that contain the least matter.  Equivalently, the regions that contain matter would appear to be “pulling” on the rest of space, in proportion to the amount of matter they contain.

This could help explain why gravity is so weak in relation to the other fundamental forces of physics–it’s because the Universe is so old and has expanded so much during its long existence, that the gravitational effect is now greatly diluted in comparison to what it was in the Universe’s early stages, whereas the shorter-range forces are not.

Now since the subdivision of space and the passage of time are one and the same thing in my model, this means that when we measure time passing in a particular location, we are also monitoring the subdividing of space there.  So if I’m right in thinking that “occupied” space tends not to subdivide as much as “unoccupied” space, this would also imply that clocks run slower in regions that contain more matter–which is of course what we observe in our Universe, and what General Relativity describes.

To put it in a nutshell, “Matter eats Space and slows Time.”  And although I haven’t yet specified how “matter” occurs in my model, I’m thinking that maybe I should be looking for it where there’s the least amount of subdivision going on at any given “time.”  If I find it there, that would help explain how small-scale “quantum” processes can produce large-scale “relativistic” effects.

(Note: no apples were harmed in the conception of this blog post.)

Building a universe from numbers

Monday, March 19, 2012 4:28 pm PDT

This post is written in response to recent requests to explain the mathematical formulations I am investigating, and to show how a physical universe may be created from numbers.  Before I start, here are some warnings:

  1. This is a work in progress; everything here is subject to revision.
  2. I have attempted to define a universe consisting of space and time, with matter and energy governed by physical laws.  I do not yet claim this to be a model of OUR Universe, just of SOME possible universe.
  3. Some heavy mathematics ahead; proceed at your own risk.

The model is built up in stages as follows:

  • Stage 1 describes a universe with 1 dimension of space and 1 dimension of time.
  • Stage 2 describes a universe with 2 dimensions of space and 1 dimension of time.
  • Stage 3 describes a universe with 3 dimensions of space and 1 dimension of time.
  • Subsequent stages are possible but are not considered here, for reasons to be explained later.

At each stage, the model defines a single structure that can be formulated from a numerical, a geometrical or a physical perspective.  It is important to remember that for each stage, all three formulations are equivalent: the elements of the structure are the same from all three perspectives.


Stage 1: The model consists of all possible duads, where a duad is defined as an ordered pair of coprime non-negative integers.  (“Coprime” means that the two integers do not share a common divisor greater than 1.  All integers are considered to be divisors of zero.)

Notation: a duad is written as a:b>y where a,b ∈ℤ; a,b ≥0; gcd(a,b)=1; and y=m² (writing m=a+b).

Stage 2:  The model consists of all possible triads, where a triad is defined as three ordered non-negative integers a,b,c that have no common divisor greater than 1.  (Note: they need not be pairwise coprime, so for example 6, 10 and 15 would define a triad.)

Notation: a triad is written as a:b:c>y where a,b,c ∈ℤ; a,b,c ≥0; gcd(a,b,c)=1; and (writing m=a+b+c)  y=m²/gcd (a²+b²+ab, a²+c²+ac, b²+c²+bc)

Stage 3: The model consists of all possible tetrads, where a tetrad is defined as four ordered non-negative integers a,b,c,d that have no common divisor greater than 1 (though they need not be pairwise coprime).

Notation: a tetrad is written as a:b:c:d>y where a,b,c,d ∈ℤ; a,b,c,d ≥0; gcd (a,b,c,d)=1; and (writing m=a+b+c+d)
y=m²/gcd(m², a²+b²+c²+ab+ac+bc, a²+b²+d²+ab+ad+bd, a²+c²+d²+ac+ad+cd, b²+c²+d²+bc+bd+cd)


  1. In each stage, the number y is always a positive integer, and is said to be the order of the duad, triad or tetrad.
  2. The term “duad” has been adopted in preference to “dyad,” which already has a different mathematical meaning.
  3. The Stage 2 model contains three copies of the Stage 1 model, obtained by setting a=0, b=0 and c=0 respectively.  Likewise, the Stage 3 model contains four copies of the Stage 2 model.
  4. The Stage 1 model also contains two elements (0:1>1 and 1:0>1) each of which can be considered as a copy of a trivial “Stage 0” model that consists of a single monad.
  5. The Stage 1 model is equivalent to the set of “Farey Fractions” (the rational numbers from 0 to 1, expressed in lowest terms).  The duad a:b>y corresponds to the fraction b/a+b.  This is easily seen because if (a, b) are coprime, then so are (b, a+b), and vice versa.


Stage 1 (“Fareyland”): The model consists of a set of Ford Circles that touch a straight line of unit length in a 2-dimensional Euclidean space.  Each duad a:b>y defines a circle of diameter 1/y, that touches the line at barycentric coordinates (a,b).

Note: the barycentric coordinates here are defined by reference to the line: the two endpoints of the line have barycentric coordinates (0,1) and (1,0) and the point (a,b) is located a fraction b/a+b of the way along the line. The Ford Circles all lie on the same side of the line.  One circle touches the line at every rational point along its length.  The circles touch each other but never overlap.  Here is a picture showing the Ford Circles defined by the duads of orders up to 144, together with their corresponding Farey Fractions.  The diameter of each circle is 1 divided by its order.

Ford Circles defined by duads

Click to enlarge: Ford Circles defined by duads of orders up to 144, and their corresponding Farey Fractions. (For space reasons, only the duads of orders up to 25 are labeled.)

Stage 2 (“The Flatrack”): The model consists of a set of Ford Spheres that touch an equilateral unit triangle in a 3-dimensional Euclidean space.  Each triad a:b:c>y defines a sphere of diameter 1/y, that touches the plane of the triangle at barycentric coordinates (a,b,c).  These barycentric coordinates are defined by reference to the triangle, the corners of which have barycentric coordinates (1,0,0), (0,1,0) and (0,0,1).  The Ford Spheres all lie on the same side of the triangle; one sphere touches it at each rational point (in barycentric coordinates); and the spheres touch but never overlap.  It’s rather hard to show a picture of this, but imagine a triangular rack on a pool table, holding three large balls that touch each other.  Then imagine a fourth ball, sitting on the table in the center, that is just large enough to touch all three balls.  Then imagine that you keep on filling the gaps between the balls and the table with more and more balls, each of which is just large enough to fill the gap it occupies.  That is a system of Ford Spheres.

Stage 3 (“The Four-D Froth”): The model consists of a set of (4-dimensional) Ford Hyperspheres that touch a regular unit tetrahedron in a 4-dimensional Euclidean space.  Each tetrad a:b:c:d>y defines a hypersphere of diameter 1/y, that touches the three-dimensional space of the tetrahedron at barycentric coordinates (a,b,c,d).  Again, these barycentric coordinates are defined by reference to the tetrahedron, the vertices of which have barycentric coordinates (1,0,0,0), (0,1,0,0), (0,0,1,0) and (0,0,0,1).  The Ford Hyperspheres all lie on the same “side” of the three-dimensional space (i.e. all in the same direction in the fourth dimension); one hypersphere touches it at each rational point (in barycentric coordinates); and the hyperspheres touch but never overlap.  Again, this system can be created by filling the gaps with the largest hyperspheres that will fit.

Note: in each stage of the model, the elements are referred to as “bubbles”.


Stage 1: We now consider Fareyland, instead of being two-dimensional, to represent one dimension of space (measured along the line) plus one dimension of time (measured downward towards the line).

Stage 2: We now consider the Flatrack, instead of being three-dimensional, to represent two dimensions of space (forming a triangle) plus one dimension of time (measured downward towards the triangle).

Stage 3: We now consider the Four-D Froth, instead of being four-dimensional, to represent three dimensions of space (forming a tetrahedron) plus one dimension of time (measured in the fourth dimension towards the tetrahedron).

In general, each stage n of the geometrical model now represents n dimensions of space plus one dimension of time (instead of n+1 dimensions of space).  In this formulation, each bubble represents a point of the n-dimensional space, and all the bubbles of order y are treated as coming into existence at “time” y.  This defines a discrete (rather than continuous) space, shaped as the unit simplex of dimension n, that is constantly subdividing.  In other words, the space only has a finite number of points in it at any given time, and it is important to remember that there is nothing between these points (yet).  This spacetime is therefore said to be granular.

This would give us a universe of a constant size, with a space that was continually becoming ever more finely grained.  However, we now apply a linear scaling factor of y to the space at time y.  This insures that all bubbles have diameter 1 at the time they come into existence, so that the granularity of space does not appear to change over time.  Instead, the space so defined appears to be continually expanding.

We now have a spacetime that exhibits at least some of the properties of a universe like ours.  In this blog post I showed how the Flatrack had quantities that were distributed like the energies in the Cosmic Microwave Background.  I have subsequently been studying how “cause and effect” can travel through the Four-D Froth, on the assumption that each bubble can “influence” only its higher-order (i.e., “later”) neighbors.  My results seem to indicate some sort of “cosmic speed limit,” but I’m not ready to say more at this stage.  And I previously observed some gravitational-type effects, so things are looking interesting.

Why limit the model to 3+1 dimensions?

Apart from the fact that the calculations become more complex and hard to visualize in higher dimensions, I have been reluctant to go beyond 3 dimensions of space plus 1 of time for another reason: embedding.  As I noted above when discussing the numerical formulation, each stage of the model contains embedded copies of the previous, lower-dimensional stages.  This is also true when we consider the geometrical and physical models.  The Four-D Froth is shaped like a tetrahedron, each face of which is an identical triangular copy of the Flatrack.  And each edge of the Flatrack (and of the Four-D Froth) is an identical copy of Fareyland.  If this is true up to three dimensions, we can expect it to be true in higher dimensions too.  This leads to the unsettling idea that our Universe may be just the boundary of a higher-dimensional universe, whose inhabitants could be watching us in the same way as we watch cartoon characters.

Of course, we could always specify that the numbers a,b,c and d in our models must always be non-zero, but this seems to be a bit of an artificial solution.

Another, less worrying problem, is that the models have a symmetry that corresponds to a reordering of the numbers a,b,c and d.  Thus Fareyland has a 2-way symmetry, the Flatrack has a 6-way symmetry, and the Four-D Froth has a 24-way symmetry.  That could mean that as I sit here typing these words, there are 23 other copies of myself (11 right-handed and 12 left-handed ones) doing exactly the same thing in other parts of the Universe.   This could lead to interesting phenomena at the boundary between adjoining mirror-image sections of the model.

Randomness and unpredictability

Thursday, December 1, 2011 1:39 pm PDT

I’ve been reflecting recently on the concept of “randomness” and how it differs from “unpredictability”.  We apply these terms rather loosely to a lot of things, from lotteries to stock markets to ballgame scores.  All these are unpredictable, meaning we cannot know the outcome in advance, but are they truly random?

A lottery appears for all practical purposes to be truly random–at least, as random as human ingenuity can contrive.  Stock markets may appear to behave at random, yet we know that this is an illusion: in reality the prices are determined by the actions of many competing participants.  This is also true of a ball game, yet we do not consider its final score to be random: we know it’s the result of human inputs, and can see the processes leading to it in action.

When we consider a process (something that develops over time, like a sequence of numbers, or a series of coin tosses) we naturally look for patterns.  We cannot help doing this, it’s the way our brains are designed to work (as well as being a very useful survival skill).  If we spot a pattern, then we can use it to predict the process.  But what if we can’t spot one?  Is it because no pattern exists, or just that we haven’t found it?  Consider the sequence of digits 2, 6, 4, 5, 7, 5, 1, 3, 1, 1, 0, 6, 4, 5, 9, … .  It may look random, but once we recognize it as the square root of 7 then we know how to predict it–and, of course, we know that it is not random.

This highlights the difference between randomness and unpredictability: unpredictable events follow no discernible pattern, but truly random ones follow no pattern at all.

Can a process ever be truly random? The people that run the lottery hope that no-one will ever discover if there is a pattern underlying the numbers they draw.  (Or at least that if one is ever discovered, it will be too complicated to permit predictions.  Otherwise, they would very rapidly be out of business.)

Likewise, the theory of Quantum Mechanics is based on the assumption that subatomic processes are truly random.  But what if there is an underlying pattern, but it’s just too complicated to calculate in practice?  That wouldn’t invalidate the theory, it would just change our interpretation of it.  And that is what PQR Theory asserts: nothing that happens in our Universe is truly random, even though for all practical purposes we may assume it to be.  We may discover the formula that guides our destiny, but we will never be able to predict it.

In the words of the old song: “Que sera, sera: whatever will be, will be.”  But the future’s not ours to see.