Emergent Spacetime in Quantum Theories of Gravity

Collaborative Group

Professor Nick Huggett, Professor Christian Wüthrich




The nature of space and time are perennial and fruitful issues in philosophy, engaging deeply with other disciplines. Relativity was the last revolution in the physics of spacetime; the next one involves quantum theories of spacetime, or 'quantum gravity'. Space and time are not fundamental ingredients of the world, but somehow 'emerge' from deeper, non- spatiotemporal physics. This idea that space or time are not 'real' at the basic level would shatter the current conception of the universe, and hence our place within it. This project will produce the first book-length investigation of such implications by philosophers, explicating the very idea of emergent spacetime in contemporary physics, and showing its impact on many central philosophical ideas.

Huggett and Wüthrich both have interdisciplinary backgrounds in philosophy and physics, and the work of both continues to combine the humanities and natural sciences. Huggett has published widely in the foundations of spacetime and quantum theories, and co-edited a book on quantum gravity. Wüthrich works on quantum gravity and has also published on the physics of time travel. In the past they have worked together as speakers and lecturers at conferences and summer schools each has organized.

Award period: July 1, 2010 – August 31, 2011