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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
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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
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Dr. Simon W. Saunders
University of Oxford


David Wallace, University of Oxford

Project Title

Everett at 50

Project Summary

In depth and intricacy no controversy in the history of physics matches the debate on the foundations of quantum mechanics. Despite the expenditure of a vast amount of effort, very little progress has been made in resolving the controversy.

There is also the Everett interpretation. This, unlike its rivals, applies uniformly to any quantum theory. But it says that other worlds are like other times: that they all exist. It is a many-worlds theory. Fantastic, perhaps, but the approach always foundered not because it was judged incredible but because it was judged unintelligible - particularly on the interpretation of probability. If everything happens, what can probabilities possibly mean? But it seems there is now an answer to this question, or at any rate that the situation in Everett is no worse than in its rivals. On other fronts, too, it is increasingly clear it is methodologically conservative in comparison to its rivals.

It is fifty years since Everett's astounding proposal; on the table is a remarkable set of claims. It is proposed to hold a conference, at the University of Oxford, in September 2007, to evaluate them, and to publish the debate, both contributed papers and transcripts of discussions.

A notice of this conference is on the blog, and a comprehensive look at Hugh Everett is in the July 2007 issue of the journal Nature.

The conference website is here.

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