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Previous Programs

2020 Consciousness in the Physical World

2019 Intelligence in the Physical World

2019 Information as Fuel

2018 Agency in the Physical World
Awardees; RFP download

2016 Physics of the Observer
Awardees; RFP download

2015 The Physics of What Happens
Awardees; RFP download

2013 Physics of Information
Awardees; RFP download

2010 The Nature of Time
Awardees; RFP download

2008 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
Awardees; RFP download

2006 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
Awardees; RFP download

Dr. Markus Aspelmeyer
Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information (IQOQI)


Caslav Brukner, University of Vienna
Keith Schwab, Cornell University
Vlatko Vedral, Leeds University
Anton Zeilinger, IQOQI

Project Title

Expolring Physical Realism - Experiments on the Foundations & Limits of Quantum Physics

Project Summary

Two important fundamental questions are presently left unanswered by physics: "Why the quantum?" and "Why the classical?" The first question arises from our inability to provide a simple epistemological basis for quantum phenomena, above all quantum superposition and entanglement. Different interpretations claim to provide an explanation for the same phenomena and are yet founded on fully incompatible principles. A well-known example is the striking contradiction between the underlying assumptions of the Copenhagen interpretation and the realistic model of Bohm. The second question addresses the yet unresolved problem whether classicality can emerge from a quantum physical description of the world. Conceptual difficulties arise when quantum physics is applied consequently to increasingly massive and complex systems. Schrodinger's famous "cat"-example was the first to point out the dramatic, contra-intuitive consequences of the possibility of macroscopic entanglement for our understanding of the world.

Our research aims to provide a better understanding of the nature of physical reality based on these two fundamental questions. We will both explore the consequences of a realistic description of the quantum world and test experimentally to which extent the present boundary between the quantum and the classical world can be exploited - if it exists at all.

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