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2016 Physics of the Observer
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2015 The Physics of What Happens
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2013 Physics of Information
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2010 The Nature of Time
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2008 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
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2006 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
2006 Awardees

Gerardo Adesso
The University of Nottingham

Tommaso Tufarelli
The University of Nottingham

Marco Piani
University of Strathclyde

Project Title

Sentient observers in the quantum regime and the emergence of an objective reality

Project Summary

When watching an event, different people may see and feel differently, yet they agree about several aspects of their experience. To what extent, and how, is objective information about the physical world established? Questions about objectivity of reality and meaning of consciousness have troubled every civilization in history. How can we be sure what we observe is real rather than a subjective suggestion? What does it even mean to observe something? We humans pride ourselves in possessing the highest level of consciousness and self-awareness, but how can we measure consciousness, so to meaningfully compare it between different species and even inanimate systems (e.g. Apple's Siri or IBM's Watson)? Here we attack these elusive questions mathematically, modelling sentient observers as complex aggregates whose parts interact according to the rules of quantum mechanics. We then explore to what extent the emergence of an objective reality, together with conscious beings that appreciate it, coexists and is compatible with the most exotic effects associated with quantum physics (such as entanglement). We finally aim to explain how and at which scale our everyday world where macroscopic objects appear to be ‚"here or there", arises from the quantum mechanical world of superpositions between "here and there".

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