Large Grants
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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

Sara Imari Walker
Arizona State University


Chiara Marletto; University of Oxford

Project Title

Accommodating observers in fundamental physics with causal mechanics

Project Summary

Among the most perplexing problems in modern physics is reconciling our experience of reality with our most fundamental physical theories. Nowhere is this more evident than with observers - physical systems that actively utilize information to affect the world. This behavior seems at odds with the current best physical explanations, because they are all cast as predictions of a single trajectory for the whole universe, specified by an initial state and fixed dynamical laws. To the end of unifying observers' causal power with fundamental physics, we propose a new theoretical framework, called Causal Mechanics. By taking information as a fundamental aspect of physical reality, via the new conceptual tools of the recently proposed Constructor Theory of Information, many of the perplexing dilemmas associated with unifying physics and observers, are resolved. We test Causal Mechanics in cellular automata models, examining how to reconcile information with causal power, as necessary for observers to be active participants in the unfolding of the universe, and local, reversible laws as characterize our universe. Our results therefore have potential to shed light on one of oldest and most perplexing problems of human existence, cast within fundamental physics – can we matter to the world?

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