Large Grants
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Previous Programs

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. Jonathan Dowling
Louisiana State University

Project Title

Quantum Measurement in the Timeless Universe

Project Summary

One of the fundamental rules of quantum theory, known as the measurement postulate, forces the future to be treated very differently from the past. This observation has come to be known as the "quantum mechanical arrow of time." This leads to a deep paradox, however, when we attempt to use quantum theory to describe gravity and cosmology, because our theories of gravity and cosmology do not describe how physical objects change with time; instead, they describe how physical objects change with respect to each other. In a very literal sense, the physical laws describing the universe itself are timeless. Our goal is to reconcile this timeless nature of the universe with quantum theory's definite "arrow of time." To accomplish this, we need to go back to the foundations of quantum theory and re-write the measurement postulate itself, using the modern-day tools of information theory. By invoking the field of information theory, we expect that the resulting framework should not only describe the emergence of time's arrow, but that it will also enable us to make fundamental statements about what we as observers can learn about our universe from within universe itself.

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