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DIAS, School of Theoretical Physics, Statutory Public Lecture 2021

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'Quantum Quest' - Prof. Lucien Hardy (Perimeter Institute, Ontario)

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Title: Quantum Quest

Speaker: Prof. Lucien Hardy (Perimeter Institute, Ontario)

Abstract: At the beginning of the last century the two great physical theories that guide us today were discovered - General Relativity and Quantum Theory. Quantum Theory does not accord with our usual ways of thinking about the world. A particle, rather than taking one path or another, takes both paths at once. General Relativity also challenges our usual way of thinking. The causal structure (of "before" and "after") between events is not fixed in advance but depends on the distribution of matter. The challenge still facing us today after a century is to find a theory of Quantum Gravity. This could be a deeper more fundamental theory but it must reduce to Quantum Theory and General Relativity where those theories give correct predictions. In a theory of Quantum Gravity we expect to have multiple causal structures at once. Spacetime would become fundamentally fuzzy. This would mean that one event could be both before and also after some other event. How can we even begin to reason in such a world? How can we go about making progress constructing a theory of Quantum Gravity? I suggest we need a new principle - the Quantum Equivalence Principle - which would allow us to use the magic of Quantum Theory to de-fuzz spacetime in small regions.


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