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2018 Agency in the Physical World
2018 Awardees

2016 Physics of the Observer
2016 Awardees

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
2006 Awardees

Benjamin Schumacher
Kenyon College


Michael D. Westmoreland, Denison University

Project Title

Eidostates and physical records of events

Project Summary

We observe, describe, and act upon the world from within the world. The records we possess about events are physical configurations of our memory, and the processes by which we acquire, manipulate, use and delete those records are governed by physical laws. Our "eidostate" (from the Greek "eidos", meaning "to see") is the partial description of the world that we hold based on all the information available to us. This project aims to explore how one part of the universe can construct and amend its description of the whole. In thermodynamics, this leads to a new approach in which Maxwell's demon and other "information engines" play a central role. In quantum physics, this may shed light on the measurement problem, in which quantum devices gain and use information to control other systems. Of particular interest is the way that physical agents perceive the passage of time based on their records of events. Finally, when many agents interact, their respective eidostates include information about each other. This fact connects eidostates to the field of epistemic logics, which studies the logical properties of the knowledge and beliefs held by reasoners.

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