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NIST Colloquium: What are the Laws of Physics?

Paul Davies
Director, BEYOND:
Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science
Arizona State University

For 300 years the orthodox view of the laws of physics is that they are immutable, universal, infinitely-precise mathematical relationships that were somehow imprinted on the universe at its birth. The hidden assumptions that underpin this view can be traced to cultural factors at the time that physics was first formulated as a discipline. In recent years, some have begun to question these assumptions. In my talk I shall focus on the infinitely-precise quality, arguing that it is an unjustified extrapolation, especially in cosmological models that place a fundamental information bound on the observable universe. The existence of such a bound forces us to confront the nature of the laws of physics in certain experimentally-realizable situations, e.g., entangled states of more than 400 particles.

Paul Davies is a prolific author of popularized science books. Some of his more recent books will be available for review and purchase before and after the lecture.

Anyone outside NIST wishing to attend must be sponsored by a NIST employee and receive a visitor badge. For more information, call Kum J. Ham at 301-975-4203.

Colloquia are videotaped and available in the NIST Research Library.

Created October 23, 2009, Updated September 27, 2016