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Previous Programs

2019 Intelligence in the Physical World

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. Michael Reisenberger
Theiss Research

Project Title

Classical and Quantum Gravity Without Constraints

Project Summary

Gravity bends light. The proposal is to reformulate Einstein's theory of gravity, describing the gravitational field (almost) entirely in terms of its effect on light rays, and to begin to develop a corresponding quantum theory. Einstein's theory describes gravity when quantum phenomena can be neglected. To explore quantum gravity experiments are needed, and here plausible theories are invaluable. Generically quantum gravitational phenomena are far too small to be measured, but in a given theory there usually are some effects that, by a conspiracy of factors particular to that theory, are much larger than would be expected on general grounds, providing testable predictions.

After 80 years of searching we have only pieces of plausible theories, but in 1993 a radical new guiding principle was proposed: that the three dimensional world of our experience is a sort of holographic projection of an underlying two dimensional world. This principle was argued to be a consequence of quantum mechanics and the gravitational bending of light (and apparently it is realized in quantum models of certain universes different from ours). The proposed description of gravity is the ideal setting to evaluate these arguments, and to incorporate this holographic principle in a quantum theory of gravity.

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