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Previous Programs

2018 Agency in the Physical World
Awardees; RFP download

2016 Physics of the Observer
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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
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Wojciech Zurek
Theiss Research

Project Title

Quantum Darwinism and Agents

Project Summary

Our Universe is quantum, as experimental confirmations of quantum superpositions on increasingly large scales and studies entanglement demonstrate. Yet, the world we inhabit appears classical to us, devoid of superpositions or entanglement. Emergence of classicality from the quantum substrate is a long-standing mystery. Decoherence posits that objects acquire classicality because they are in effect monitored by environments that destroy superpositions of selected quasi-classical pointer states that are “immune” to the environment. Quantum Darwinism extends the role of the environment: It is motivated by the observation that we acquire our data about the Universe indirectly, by intercepting fractions of the environment that caused decoherence. Thus, only information reproduced, by decoherence, in many copies is objective so that it can accessed by many agents and re-confirmed. I will study the origin of irreversibility, as I believe that in quantum Darwinist setting it can be caused not just by the increase of entropy, but also by its decrease -- by information agents obtain. I shall also investigate, using models of information processing, how agents make predictions about their Universe. Last not least, I shall address the question of how and why we pick out “systems” that underlie discussion of decoherence and quantum Darwinism.

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