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New Avenues Beyond Space and Time

English title New Avenues Beyond Space and Time
Applicant Wüthrich Christian
Number 165702
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Département de Philosophie Université de Genève
Institution of higher education University of Geneva - GE
Main discipline Philosophy
Start/End 01.09.2016 - 31.12.2019
Approved amount 516'457.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Philosophy
Other disciplines of Physics

Keywords (4)

emergent gravity; philosophy of physics; principles of physics; philosophy of quantum gravity

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
La formulation d'une théorie de la gravité quantique - une théorie qui réunit la physique quantique et la relativité générale - est un projet majeur de la physique resté inabouti depuis près d'un siècle. Étant donné l'absence de données empiriques à même de guider l'élaboration et la confirmation d'une théorie à venir, le projet présent étudie les présupposés d'une telle entreprise, questionne les hypothèses tacites que cachent les programmes de recherche et considère les alternatives qui émergent suite à l'abandon de certaines de ces hypothèses.
Lay summary
Objectif

Ce projet propose d'élargir de deux manières le champ d'investigation sur lequel la philosophie travaille habituellement. Dans un premier temps il consiste en la réévaluation des principes physiques de base à l'oeuvre dans la physique fondamentale ainsi qu'à leurs justifications et à leurs rôles en gravité quantique. Ce projet vise à rendre compte de l'ensemble des principes susceptibles de jouer un rôle. Dans un second temps il analyse l'idée originale selon laquelle la gravité ne serait pas une force fondamentale, mais davantage le résultat d'interactions non-gravitationnelles collectives de la matière fondamentale. La confirmation d'une telle idée rabaisserait la théorie générale de la relativité au rang d'une théorie des champs effective, similaire en ce point à l'hydrodynamique.

Contexte

Comme diverses approches de la gravité quantique suggèrent que l'espace et le temps n'existeraient pas à un niveau fondamental mais plutôt émergeraient, tout comme d'autres caractéristiques de notre monde macroscopique, il devient urgent d'entreprendre un travail philosophique de ces approches de la physique fondamentale. Dans un esprit de pluridisciplinarité, ce projet comporte des volets philosophiques, physiques et mathématiques entrepris dans le but commun de clarifier les fondations de nos théories portant la réalité physique fondamentale.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 11.04.2016

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
As below, so before: ‘synchronic’ and ‘diachronic’ conceptions of spacetime emergence
Crowther Karen (2020), As below, so before: ‘synchronic’ and ‘diachronic’ conceptions of spacetime emergence, in Synthese.
Renormalizability, Fundamentality, and a Final Theory: The Role of UV-Completion in the Search for Quantum Gravity
Crowther Karen, Linnemann Niels (2019), Renormalizability, Fundamentality, and a Final Theory: The Role of UV-Completion in the Search for Quantum Gravity, in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 70(2), 377-406.
What we cannot learn from analogue experiments
Crowther Karen, Linnemann Niels S., Wüthrich Christian (2019), What we cannot learn from analogue experiments, in Synthese.
Have we lost spacetime on the way? Narrowing the gap between general relativity and quantum gravity
Le Bihan Baptiste, Linnemann Niels (2019), Have we lost spacetime on the way? Narrowing the gap between general relativity and quantum gravity, in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Phy, 65, 112-121.
What is the Point of Reduction in Science?
Crowther Karen (2018), What is the Point of Reduction in Science?, in Erkenntnis.
Hints towards the emergent nature of gravity
Linnemann Niels S., Visser Manus R. (2018), Hints towards the emergent nature of gravity, in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Phy, 64, 1-13.
Defining a crisis: the roles of principles in the search for a theory of quantum gravity
Crowther Karen (2018), Defining a crisis: the roles of principles in the search for a theory of quantum gravity, in Synthese.
Clocks and Chronogeometry: Rotating Spacetimes and the Relativistic Null Hypothesis
Menon Tushar, Linnemann Niels, Read James (2018), Clocks and Chronogeometry: Rotating Spacetimes and the Relativistic Null Hypothesis, in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
Inter-theory relations in quantum gravity: Correspondence, reduction, and emergence
Crowther Karen (2018), Inter-theory relations in quantum gravity: Correspondence, reduction, and emergence, in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Phy, 63, 74-85.
How Not to Establish the Non-renormalizability of Gravity
Doboszewski Juliusz, Linnemann Niels (2018), How Not to Establish the Non-renormalizability of Gravity, in Foundations of Physics, 48(2), 237-252.
Interpretations of GR as guidelines for theory change
LinnemannNiels, Interpretations of GR as guidelines for theory change, in Sauer Tilman, Beisbart Claus, Wüthrich Christian (ed.), Birkhäuser, Basel.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Philosophy of Physics group at University of Oxford (Prof. Read, Dr. Menon) Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Philosophy of Physics group at University of Bonn (Prof. Bartels, Mr. Salimkhani) Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Prof. Michael Esfeld, Département de philosophie, Université de Lausanne Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Nick Huggett, Department of Philosophy, University of Illinois at Chicago United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Exchange of personnel

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
European Philosophy of Science Association (EPSA) Conference Talk given at a conference Quantisation as a method of discovery: the nature and prospects of quantisation approaches to quantum gravity 11.09.2019 Geneva, Switzerland Linnemann Niels;
British Society for the Philosophy of Science (BSPS) Annual Conference Talk given at a conference What we cannot learn from analogue experiments 17.07.2019 Durham, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Wüthrich Christian; Crowther Karen; Linnemann Niels;
British Society for the Philosophy of Science (BSPS) Annual Conference Talk given at a conference Quantisation as a method of discovery 17.07.2019 Durham, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Linnemann Niels;
Non-Empirical Theory Assessment: how far does it reach and where could it stumble? Talk given at a conference What we cannot learn from analogue experiments 06.06.2019 Stockholm, Sweden Linnemann Niels; Crowther Karen; Wüthrich Christian;
LanCogSci Research Seminar Individual talk Levels of fundamentality in the metaphysics of physics 31.05.2019 Lisbon, Portugal Crowther Karen;
Centre for Philosophy and The Sciences Seminar Individual talk When do we stop digging? Conditions on a fundamental theory of physics 03.05.2019 Lisbon, Portugal Crowther Karen;
Levels of Explanation Workshop Talk given at a conference Levels of fundamentality in the metaphysics of physics 03.04.2019 Birmingham, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Crowther Karen;
The Meanings of “Emergence” in Philosophy and Science Talk given at a conference As Below, So Before: Synchronic and Diachronic Accounts of Spacetime Emergence 11.03.2019 Turin, Italy Crowther Karen;
Oxford Philosophy of Physics Seminar Individual talk As Below, So Before: Synchronic and Diachronic Accounts of Spacetime Emergence 07.03.2019 Oxford, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Crowther Karen;
New Topics in Quantum Foundations Workshop Talk given at a conference As Below, So Before: Synchronic and Diachronic Accounts of Spacetime Emergence 29.11.2018 Lausanne, Switzerland Crowther Karen;
Philosophy of Physics Workshop Talk given at a conference What we cannot learn from analogue experiments 26.11.2018 Bern, Switzerland Linnemann Niels; Crowther Karen; Wüthrich Christian;
Emergence, Effectiveness and Equivalence Colloquium Talk given at a conference As Below, So Before: Synchronic and Diachronic Accounts of Spacetime Emergence 19.10.2018 Boston, United States of America Crowther Karen;
Swiss Society for Logic and Philosophy of Science: Annual Meeting 2018 Talk given at a conference Does GR need an interpretation? 21.09.2018 Lugano, Switzerland Linnemann Niels;
First Irvine-Munich-PoliMi-Salzburg Conference in Philosophy and Foundations of Physics Talk given at a conference What we cannot learn from analogue experiments 03.09.2018 Salzburg, Austria Linnemann Niels; Crowther Karen; Wüthrich Christian;
XXI International Summer School in the Philosophy of Physics Talk given at a conference The role of UV completion in the search for quantum gravity 25.06.2018 Urbino, Italy Crowther Karen;
Fundamentality in Physics and Metaphysics Workshop Talk given at a conference When do we stop digging? Conditions on a fundamental theory of physics 29.05.2018 Geneva, Switzerland Crowther Karen;
Observers in the Cosmos: The Role of Scale and Time Talk given at a conference Scale Invariance and Fundamentality 22.05.2018 Bristol, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Crowther Karen;
Geneva Symmetry Group Seminar Individual talk What is the point of reduction in science? 26.04.2018 Geneva, Switzerland Crowther Karen;
PhilEAS Seminar Talk given at a conference How is a bathtub like a black hole? We don't know 29.03.2018 Geneva, Switzerland Crowther Karen;
DPG Frühjahrstagung Talk given at a conference Have We Lost Spacetime on the Way? Narrowing the Gap Between General Relativity and Quantum Gravity (joint work with Baptiste Le Bihan) 26.02.2018 Berlin, Germany Linnemann Niels;
Beyond Spacetime Seminar Individual talk When do we stop digging? Conditions on a fundamental theory of physics 13.12.2017 Geneva, Switzerland Crowther Karen;
Reasoning in Physics Workshop Talk given at a conference On principles of theory construction and justification in quantum gravity 12.12.2017 Munich, Germany Crowther Karen; Linnemann Niels;
Spacetime: Fundamental or Emergent? Workshop Talk given at a conference Fundamentality and emergence in quantum gravity 26.10.2017 Bonn, Germany Crowther Karen;
Thinking about Space and Time: 100 Years of Applying and Interpreting General Relativity Talk given at a conference GR, quo vadis? - Indications for an Emergent Nature of Gravity (with Manus Visser) 12.09.2017 Bern, Switzerland Linnemann Niels;
European Philosophy of Science Association (EPSA) Conference Talk given at a conference The field view from emergent gravity? 06.09.2017 Exeter, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Linnemann Niels;
European Philosophy of Science Association (EPSA) Conference Talk given at a conference What is the problem of quantum gravity? 06.09.2017 Exeter, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Crowther Karen;
European Congress of Analytic Philosophy (ECAP 9) Conference Talk given at a conference On principles of theory construction and justification in quantum gravity 21.08.2017 Munich, Germany Crowther Karen; Linnemann Niels;
European Congress of Analytic Philosophy (ECAP 9) Conference Talk given at a conference Emergence as an inter-theory relation in quantum gravity 21.08.2017 Munich, Germany Crowther Karen;
British Society for the Philosophy of Science (BSPS) Annual Conference Talk given at a conference The role of UV completion in the search for quantum gravity 13.07.2017 Edinburgh, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Crowther Karen; Linnemann Niels;
Conference on the Philosophical Foundations of Quantum Gravity Talk given at a conference Understanding the emergence of spacetime from quantum gravity 27.06.2017 Château de Bossey, near Geneva, Switzerland Crowther Karen;
Cosmology and the Future of Spacetime Conference Talk given at a conference Emergence, reduction, and correspondence in quantum gravity 12.06.2017 London, Ontario, Canada Crowther Karen;
Metaphysics and Physics: Methodological Links Conference Talk given at a conference The role of UV completion in the search for quantum gravity 17.11.2016 Lausanne, Switzerland Linnemann Niels; Crowther Karen;


Self-organised

Title Date Place

Awards

Title Year
Visiting grant to University of Illinois at Chicago (Beyond Spacetime project). See https://beyondspacetime.net/ for more information. 2017

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
169313 To and Fro: Scientific Metaphysics at Physics’s Frontiers 01.01.2017 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

To articulate a quantum theory of gravity--a theory unifying quantum physics and general relativity--has remained an unfulfilled challenge in physics for almost a century. Proposals for how to approach the problem abound, but all research programs face major mathematical, physical, and philosophical obstacles. Recently, the frontrunners in the race to find the elusive theory--string theory and loop quantum gravity--have stalled in their progress and the field is disintegrating into myriad research programs pulling in divergent directions. No empirical data is available to guide the hunt in quantum gravity. The mathematical, physical, and conceptual disunity of quantum physics and general relativity renders the difficulty nearly insurmountable. One way to find guidance out of the quagmire is to revisit the very presuppositions of the enterprise, question the possibly tacit assumptions behind stalling research programs, and consider the alternatives that open up once some of them are dropped. This is precisely what the present project proposes to do. The fledging field of philosophy of quantum gravity is almost exclusively concerned with the philosophical foundations of the dominating approaches. We propose to leave the trodden paths in the hope to gain novel insights on the problem of quantum gravity. We will do this in two ways. First, we will step back to reconsider what precisely it would mean to succeed in articulating a quantum theory of gravity. This suggests a reevaluation of the basic physical principles such as unification, discreteness, background independence, general covariance, unitarity, correspondence, and holography, and a reconception of their justification and role in theory-building in quantum gravity. We aspire to developing an integrated account of candidate principles of quantum gravity. Second, we will examine the neglected--and iconoclast--possibility that gravity may not be a fundamental force, but instead the result of the collective non-gravitational interactions of fundamental degrees of freedom. This would degrade general relativity to an effective field theory, similar in status to hydrodynamics. We scrutinize two types of models in this 'emergent gravity' paradigm inspired by solid state physics and black hole thermodynamics, and evaluate to what extent their claims to generality can be upheld.Our project will be of great interest to a wider audience in philosophy. Quantum gravity, it is assumed--though this is not without detractors--, will eventually deliver a theory more fundamental than the current best theories, both of the fundamental constitution of matter (the standard model of particle physics), as well as of the large-scale structure of spacetime (general relativity). Hence, philosophers interested in the fundamental structure of the world will do well to pay attention to what happens in quantum gravity. The project is also of great interest to general philosophy of science, as it considers to what extent a methodology driven by principles can replace the usual empirical methods of science when these latter seem to become obtuse. To enter the fray and engage at short range in the scientific process of constructing a physical theory with deep implications for our conception of the world before the final theory gets inscribed into the textbooks for all to study is an exciting opportunity. By getting immersed in this process, we hope to contribute to this effort with our uniquely philosophical skill set and to draw valuable lessons for the larger fields of metaphysics and philosophy of science.
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