University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy Calendar

Friday, January 23rd 2015
Speaker: Christian Wuthrich, Department of Philosophy, University of California, San Diego
Subject: Space and Time from Causality
Refreshments served in Room 275 Nicholson Hall at 3:15 p.m.

Space and time are conspicuous by their absence in fundamental theories of quantum gravity. Causal set theory is such a theory. It follows an eminent tradition of reducing spatiotemporal relations to causal ones. I will illustrate how the causal sets lack all spatial and most temporal structure. The absence of spacetime from the fundamental level of reality poses, however, a deep philosophical and scientific challenge. On the philosophical side, the threat of empirical incoherence looms. The scientific aspect arises from the need for any novel theory to explain the success, such as it was, of the theory it seeks to depose. Both sides of the challenge are resolved if we articulate a physically salient recovery of relativistic spacetime from the underlying fundamental causal sets. I will sketch ways in which this can be achieved.

Sponsored by the Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science.

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