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2016 Physics of the Observer
2016 Awardees

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

Lidia del Rio
University of Bristol

Renato Renner
ETH Zurich

Project Title

Many worlds, many times: Emergent observers in non-probabilisitic theories

Project Summary

Do you remember the childhood books where you could choose how the story ended? The book asks you to make decisions or roll dice; based on the result you jump to a certain page, where the story takes a different turn. So works quantum theory: upon performing a measurement, several outcomes are possible, but we only experience one. According to many-worlds interpretations, all possibilities are real, in the same way that all stories are contained in the book. If you had to reconstruct the book from its loose pages, how would you distinguish past and future of a storyline from different alternatives? You could search the pages for traces of each other: the future may remember the past, but alternative stories do not refer to each other. We apply the same principle to time and observations within quantum theory. This allows us to find notions of local time, and ask questions such as "when can two agents agree on a time?" or "why do we have memory of the past but not of alternatives?"

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