Researchers in pursuit of universe’s ultimate nature
Anthony Aguirre, associate scientific director of the Foundational Questions Institute (FQXi) and a professor of physics at the University of California-Santa Cruz, says he is excited about the “fun, diabolical questions” being asked by the scientists who were awarded grants by the Institute in July, according to a recent John Templeton Foundation press release.
With support from the John Templeton Foundation, FQXi awarded $2.68 million to support 33 different projects, in the hope that the researchers’ efforts will lead to more understanding of the ultimate nature of the universe.
Among those receiving grants were Raphael Bousso, a professor at the University of California-Berkeley, for a project titled “Why Is the Universe Large?” ($60,000); Jonathan Dowling of Louisiana State University for work on “Quantum Measurement in the Timeless Universe” ($102,000); and Andrei Linde of Stanford University for research on “Multiverse, Inflation, Life, and Probabilities” ($164,000). A. Garrett Lisi, an independent physicist recently profiled in the New Yorker for what he refers to as his “exceptionally simple theory of everything,” was awarded $77,000.
Several of the grants fall under the heading of “category physics,” research that tries to provide a “more general mathematical structure than the basic one in current use,” Aguirre says. The potential for discoveries in category physics is extraordinary, he says, “as great as when we finally understood that space-time is curved.”
To continue to identify new areas for research and more potential researchers, FQXi (www.fqxi.org/) has also launched a $50,000 essay contest. The Institute will award as many as 21 prizes of up to $10,000 for original work discussing “The Nature of Time.”