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Previous Programs

2016 Physics of the Observer
2016 Awardees

2015 The Physics of What Happens
2015 Awardees

2013 Physics of Information
2013 Awardees

2010 The Nature of Time
2010 Awardees

2008 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
2008 Awardees

2006 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
2006 Awardees

Wojciech Zurek
Los Alamos National Laboratory

Project Title

Physics of Information and Quantum Darwinism

Project Summary

Objects in our familiar world possess objective reality - they exist whether anyone is looking. Such real states are not a part of fundamental quantum theory: Finding out unknown states endangers their existence. Yet, we believe (convinced by experiments) that our Universe is quantum. The challenge is to explain how what we see arises from quantum ingredients. This task was, until now, constrained to accounting for objective reality (associated with Newtonian physics). We now understand (in large part, thanks to decoherence theory developed in the past three decades) how this happens. I propose to investigate how information - the other obvious ingredient of the Universe we inhabit - arises from the quantum substrate. Clearly, there are hints of information at the quantum level: In fact, quantum states were thought unable to account for our familiar world because they were too malleable, like information (that gets revised when new data come in), and did not have rigidity, the ability to survive being found out. We believe that quantum states have ingredients that explain both information and existence, the combination of malleability (of information) and rigidity (of the part of the world explained by classical physics), and we propose to investigate how this comes about.

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