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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
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2006 Foundational Questions in Physics and Cosmology
Awardees; RFP download

Wayne C. Myrvold
The University of Western Ontario

Project Title

Quantum State Evolution, Ontology, and Relativity

Project Summary

Physicists, in thinking about the quantum world, often think of the world as represented by a function known as the wave-function. As time goes on, this function changes, sometimes in a gradual manner, but sometimes--as, for example, when we do an experiment--abruptly. These abrupt changes are known as wave-function collapse. One of the key insights of Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity is the relativity of simultaneity: if two events are so far separated that any influence would have to travel faster than light, the theory holds that there is no absolute meaning to the question of whether they are simultaneous. Accepting this makes the picture of quantum wave-functions evolving in time more complicated; some would say that it makes it an untenable picture. We will address the complications that arise and argue that an account of the world in which the physical world is represented by the quantum wave-function, and nothing else, and in which we have wave-function collapse, remains a tenable, and even a natural picture, in a relativistic spacetime. This means that, in a quantum world, we can retain Einstein's insights into the nature of time.

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