Theories of quantum gravity suggest that classical spacetime may not be fundamental, but only arise as higher order phenomena. What implications does such a possibility have for cosmology, which generally assumes the classical framework of general relativity? Such implications are in part physical, as one expects new physics to play a role in Planckian scales, for instance in the early universe. But they are also conceptual and methodological. How does the physics of a whole universe relate to the physics of its parts? What reasoning is involved in drawing inferences for the early universe and the physics of the very small, from observation of the current universe? In regimes in which classical spacetime breaks down, how are observables, laws, or indeed dynamics to be understood — and what of the universe ‘before’ the Big Bang?
In the seminar, leading philosophers and physicists will address these questions from the point of view of a range of approaches to quantum gravity.
The seminar is a collaboration between The Center for Philosophy of Science, and the Cosmology Beyond Spacetime project funded by the John Templeton Foundation.
Feb 3: Nick Huggett, University of Illinois at Chicago, Senior Visiting Fellow at The Center
Feb 10: Christian Wüthrich, University of Geneva
Feb 17: Francesca Vidotto, Western University
Feb 24: Lee Smolin, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
March 3: Christopher Smeenk, Western University
March 10: Fay Dowker, Imperial College London
March 17: Potential wrap-up session