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Previous Programs

2020 Consciousness in the Physical World
Awardees

2019 Intelligence in the Physical World
Awardees

2019 Information as Fuel
Awardees

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

Angelo Bassi
University of Trieste

Project Title

Consciousness and wave function collapse

Project Summary

Perceptions and consciousness might be intimately related to quantum mechanics. This is supported by the simple fact that they take place in the brain, which is made of atoms and molecules, which are quantum. More deeply, according to some well-known scientists, consciousness arises from the collapse of the wave function. The collapse is needed because of the Schrödinger cat paradox: quantum theory predicts quantum superpositions to spread from the microscopic world to the macroscopic world, but we do not see them in real life. Why so? The answer offered by models of spontaneous wave function collapse is that single atoms, or a small group of them, behave quantum mechanically. When instead they form a big enough system, like a conscious observer or a measuring device, the wave function collapses, based on a well-defined dynamical law, so that measurements have outcomes, and observers have definite perceptions. These models also predict an intermediate regime where the quantum dynamics and the wave function collapse compete with each other, leading to new effects which are potentially detectable. The goal of the project is to analyze this regime, in order to find the optimal strategy to detect these wave function collapse induced effects in the lab.



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