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Philosophical and Formal Foundations of Modern Physics

  1. Mar 5, 2007 #1
    Conference "Philosophical and Formal Foundations of Modern Physics", Les Treilles, April 23-28 (organized by Michel Bitbol and Alexei Grinbaum)
    See web page

    Monday, April 23

    7:30 pm Alexei Grinbaum and Michel Bitbol Introduction and welcoming remarks
    Tuesday, April 24

    Morning session. Chair: Jean Petitot

    9:30 am Hermann Nicolai Quantum gravity: an introductory survey

    10:30 am Oliver Pooley Background independence
    12 noon Lucien Hardy The causaloid formalism: a tentative framework for quantum gravity

    Afternoon session. Chair: Hermann Nicolai

    4 pm John Baez Quantum quandaries: a category-theoretic perspective

    5:30 pm Marc Lachièze-Rey Remarks on categories and physics (tentative title)
    Wednesday, April 25

    Morning session. Chair: Michel Bitbol

    9:30 am Michael Friedman Einstein and the relativized a priori

    10:30 am Katherine Brading Hilbert, the foundations of physics, and Einstein's general theory of relativity
    12 noon Thomas Ryckman Weyl, Cartan and la méthode du repère mobile

    Afternoon session. Chair: Brigitte Falkenburg

    4 pm Paolo Parrini Epistemological conventionalism beyond the geochronometrical problems

    5:30 pm Patricia Kauark-Leite Transcendental philosophy and quantum theory
    Thursday, April 26

    Morning session. Chair : Alexei Grinbaum

    9:00 am Jeffrey Bub Information and objectivity in quantum mechanics

    10:00 am Howard Barnum Toward information-processing characterizations of quantum and classical theory
    11:15 am Matteo Smerlak Relational quantum mechanics and EPR

    12 noon Christopher Timpson What kind of theory is quantum information theory?
    Friday, April 27

    Morning session. Chair: Michael Friedman

    9:30 am Brigitte Falkenburg Wave-particle duality: a neglected topic in the philosophical discussion of quantum theory

    10:30 am Rob Spekkens Insights into wave-particle duality from an epistemic interpretation of quantum states

    12 noon Jean Petitot TBA

    Afternoon session. Chair: Thomas Ryckman

    4 pm Paul Teller Provisional knowledge in physics and elsewhere

    5 pm General discussion
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 5, 2007 #2


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    Thanks for finding this, Christine. Just focusing on a somewhat arbitrary select few---one thing I notice is that Carlo Rovelli's contribution is being presented by his co-author Matteo Smerlak
    This article was just revised as of yesterday 4 March---this is now the published version.
    Relational EPR
    Matteo Smerlak, Carlo Rovelli
    Revised, published version

    "We study the EPR-type correlations from the perspective of the relational interpretation of quantum mechanics. We argue that these correlations do not entail any form of 'non-locality', when viewed in the context of this interpretation. The abandonment of strict Einstein realism implied by the relational stance permits to reconcile quantum mechanics, completeness, (operationally defined) separability, and locality."

    We had a lengthy and lively discussion of this paper here at PF last year: April and May 2006. I wonder to what extent the revised published version differs from the paper we discussed.

    I think sometimes an historical advance in physics can only be made by grappling the philosophical issues that lie at the foundations---it will not always come by sheer mathematical inventiveness or by persistent and clever calculation. I'm just echoing Carlo Rovelli here, who argued this persuasively in his book Quantum Gravity

    Heavens! it is down near Nice, and Aix-en-Provence
    there is a TGV train that one can take from Paris.
    How terrible that the other people attend such pleasant meetings, and we remain at home!
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2007
  4. Mar 5, 2007 #3

    john baez

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    Darn! One of the reasons I was going to this conference is to talk to Carlo. Another reason, to be frank, is that it sounds cool to spend a week in a French estate, out in the country far away from everything. But it was really Carlo that drew me there. He introduced me to Alexei Grinbaum when I was visiting Marseille last year.

    I guess I'll just have to talk more to the other folks. Lucien Hardy and Jeffrey Bub are really nice - I met them at the Perimeter Institute last spring. But, the real physicist in the crowd is Hermann Nicolai. He's a string theorist and a tough critic of loop quantum gravity. But, he likes exceptional Lie groups, and I like those too, so I hope we can talk about those.

    My talk title is shamelessly stolen from a paper of mine, but I hope my talk goes beyond that paper into some new ideas.

    I'll report back to y'all in a This Week's Finds!
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2007
  5. Mar 6, 2007 #4


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    He might show up. Why not? It isn't all that far.
    Maybe he wants the junior author to make the presentation and he can take it easy in the audience.

    I look forward to your TWF report
  6. Mar 6, 2007 #5


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    Lucien Hardy blows my mind, John. This, IMO, is a hair raising paper:
    Quantum gravity computers: On the theory of computation with indefinite causal structure
    I see a Nobel in his future.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2007
  7. Mar 6, 2007 #6

    :cry: :cry: :cry:
  8. Mar 6, 2007 #7
    Make these my words.
    Err, my faces.

  9. Mar 6, 2007 #8
    We show that it is possible to set up a model for computation even in the absence of definite causal structure by using a certain framework (the causaloid formalism) that was developed for the purpose of correlating data taken in this type of situation.

    I see it much like that data will not be "correlated" in any usual sense, but quantum states would resemble concurrent processes sharing common "resources". Such resources would be inherent or "internal", that is, as fundamental as the space-time manifold. More on these incipient ideas over at my new blog....

  10. Mar 7, 2007 #9


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    I probably have peculiar tastes in science, Christine. But it's always a joy to hear your provocative and logical approaches to science and reason.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2007
  11. Mar 7, 2007 #10
  12. Mar 7, 2007 #11

    My approach can be summarized as: science is an objective search, motivated by a subjective search. :wink:

  13. Mar 7, 2007 #12
    Thanks! You will notice, however, that my new blog is somewhat different than the previous one. It's more like a set of random ideas, written with a contemplative disposition.

  14. Mar 8, 2007 #13


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    I spend most of my time groping in the dark for answers to questions like this. I don't always follow the math in the mix as well as I wish I could. The 'causoloid' proposition is intriguing. Reminds me of causal sets. I think Hardy is taking that premise to a new level. It absolutely amazes me how much the universe appears to resemble a quantum computer game.
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