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

Adrian Kent
University of Cambridge


Emily Adlam, DAMTP, University of Cambridge

Project Title

Quasiclassical events in Relativistic Quantum Field Theory

Project Summary

Our perceptions seem to tell us that there are real and definite events taking place in the world around us. We see supernovae explode, comets collide with planets, and indeed the results of past cosmic events from the Big Bang onwards. At smaller scales, we see Geiger counters clicking when atoms decay, molecules combining in chemical processes, and so on. Yet it has been hard to understand how such events can arise according to our most fundamental and most successful theory, relativistic quantum theory. This has led many physicists either to postulate some sort of "many worlds" picture, according to which the events we see represent only those in one of many effectively independent "worlds", or to suggest that quantum theory may ultimately need to be replaced. This project pursues and tests a new idea, in which there is just one "world" of events, but they can be described by rules that are consistent with existing relativistic quantum theory. Excitingly, these rules also allow new ways of extending quantum theory to different theories which predict different cosmic effects. We will use this for new tests of standard quantum theory on large scales using cosmological data.

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