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

Raphael Bousso
University of California, Berkeley

Project Title

The Future of the Multiverse

Project Summary

The arrow of time is the question of why the universe started out so well ordered that even today, it remains far from the state of maximum disorder that it strives towards. A popular but somewhat ad-hoc strategy is to look for a law that requires the universe to begin orderly. In eternal inflation, this cannot work. Instead, the emergence of an arrow of time depends in on the lifetime of the vacua populating the landscape of string theory--a fascinating connection that I will explore. Eternal inflation leads to infinities that must be tamed to make predictions. Leading approaches to this problem tell us to count everything that happens until a particular time. This "cutoff" was regarded as a mere computational trick, but recent work indicates that it comes with heavy baggage. Some ob jects may last to the end of time, when they are disrupted for no reason other than the cutoff. We must understand this bizarre conclusion in a more physical way, by identifying a real mechanism that brings about the end of time and justifies the cutoff. The only alternative is to find an entirely new way of thinking about eternal inflation.

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