Richard (Rick) Ryals died 01 Dec 2018 from what I presume to have been throat or pharyngeal cancer. I only knew him as an on-line contact. Originally using the on-line user name “Island” or “Island9”. In the few days, inside the week before his death, I was private-chatting with him on Facebook Messenger after he’d posted with the lyrics of Rise Against’s “Rumors Of My Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated“. It was the first I was even aware he was ill in any way, and he was talking about chronic pharyngeal nerve pain and his fear of opiate pain killers whilst considering various pain management and surgical options. I had experienced them during complete knee arthroplasty replacements twice and was extolling their intended use although his need was clearly chronic. Even then I was unaware he was terminally ill. Looking back at the private chat thread, I see he mentioned being distracted from reading and thoughtful dialogue by a pain in his neck, back in August 2018. I’d apologised for being distracted by our visiting grandson, and his pain didn’t really register with me at that time.
He had been a physicist by education and in employment originally, though in recent years whilst retaining his research interest and identity, he’d drifted into other work after frustration and admitted his theorising was now limited by the level of maths needed. I first came across him on-line in 2005:
(17 Oct 2005) “What a bunch of crap” (Comment on Psybertron)
(Our first contact / awareness of each other. And all Rick’s comments on Psybertron since. So many dead links to reconstruct from WayBack?)
Cornell Physics Forum:
(14 Jun 2005) “Back to 1917”
(28 Feb 2006) “The Second Law of Thermodynamics says “god” doesn’t throw dice …”
Google Groups Sci.Physics.Research
Here all entries involving “Island” back to 2004
(Interesting that even in summer 2019, some of the same names are there in the discussions, including Helbig, a moderator and the original correspondent in the “Back to 1917” post above. Small world.) Peter Woit (“Not Even Wrong”) and Sean Carroll and John Baez are regular correspondents. The latter two via Facebook mostly these days. Lee Smolin’s “The Trouble With Physics” also gets a mention.
His own web pages – evolutionarydesign.blogspot.com – dead
Jul 2005 to Apr 2007 WayBack Web Archive
(Complete and fully functioning in 2019)
(18 Oct 2007) “Serious independent researcher or bona-fide crackpot?”
(24 Nov 2007) “Anthropic Luck or Tripping on Tryptophane?”
His WordPress pages Apr 2012 – The AnthropicCosmologicaPrinciple
(Still functioning in 2019, but local copies of 3 key posts / papers.)
Local copy of Jun 2010 “The Anthropic Principle – How Politics Kills Science.”
Local copy of Sep 2009 “Einstein’s Universe”
Local copy of Aug 2009 “The Goldilocks Enigma”
Some other links shared, via the Psybertron comments threads:
Quantum Information & More (Original 2005 contact, and a recurring point of contact over BCS Cybernetics special interest group members and work.)
Anthropic Principle – Why The Fuss?
(1st and 3rd from Heilighen’s Principia Cybernetica at VUB – regular source of mine originally, small world again.)
50-odd comments in this “Why The Fuss” thread where we got to understand each other’s take a lot better.
CRAP – Completely Ridiculous Anthropic Principle
http://www.geocities.com/naturescience/AnthropicBias.html (dead / blocked) (Re Nick Bostrom)
(Detailed comment on the now dead evolutionary design blogspot blog)
And many more in later posts …
It was the comment thread on this “Island Guest” post where I think I finally got his sequential big-bang understanding and hence the “rethermalisation” structure of the (successive) universe(s) and the relevance to 2nd Law evolution of the cosmos. Or possibly it was the later Maths Leaves Me Trailing thread that finally cemented it. My title was a nod to his own self-effacing claim. Although it was clear I knew far less theoretical physics detail than he did in our earliest dialogue, much less that he realised for a while, he constantly thanked me for being open minded and taking the time to get what was frustrating him – The Trouble With Physics (ie the Politics).
Dirac’s Holes and Einstein’s Constant the “Guest Post” at Diaries of a Quantum Survivor
Maths Leaves Me Trailing was the title of a 2008 post about Peter Rowlands of “Dirac Rewrite” fame and his latest book “From Zero to Infinity” with more comments from Rick as Island.
Rick’s 2009-ish long bet that his take on Einstein will be proven right.
(He made it conditional on the Higgs Boson not turning-up as expected at the LHC, which kinda undermined the bet, even though in reality it just kicked the underlying issue further down the road, but the pro-Einstein arguments remain valid.)
His Final Word – (5 June 2014) Spoof S1-Ep13 of Neil deGrasse Tyson “Cosmos a Spacetime Odyssey” (His last work? A summary in words of his main “Einstein was right” thesis. Unfortunately being a spoof of NdGT posted immediately after Ep12, the presentation is a bit cheesey and misunderstood by an audience that probably worshipped NdGT – see politics above. But we see Rick’s personal Sagan and Margulis connections. It’s actually quite short as a transcription, and is mostly simple text in sentences with the odd illustration, so I’ll probably repost as a ghost essay at some point.)
After 2014, most of his activity was Facebook dialogue with public physicists on Facebook, the ones I’ve already mentioned, Woit, Carroll, Baez and Smolin, plus Ethan Siegel and Sabine Hossenfelder.