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

Anthony Short
University of Bristol

Project Title

Emergent Relativity

Project Summary

Most people consider that only the state of the universe at the present moment is real, and that it changes with time. However, it is difficult to reconcile this view with Einstein's relativity, which says that different observers disagree about what constitutes the present. This has led many theoretical physicists to think of reality as a static 'box' containing all of space and time, so that all the events in the entire history and future of the universe (and the ‘present moments’ of all observers) co-exist. This project will highlight and explore some issues raised by this space-time box approach - in particular concerning the complexity of reality in this model, and its explanation of causality (why the future can be predicted from the present). In light of these issues, and inspired by recent results showing that relativity emerges naturally for quantum particles in discrete space and time (as if on a chessboard with a digital clock), we will investigate whether the original time-evolving view could be the most natural after all.

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