Tag Archives: FQXi

FQXi Essay Contest

I wrote an essay for the FQXi essay contest.  This year’s theme is “It from bit or bit from it?” and I decided to write about the extent to which Wheeler’s “it from bit” helps us to understand the origin of quantum probabilities from a subjective Bayesian point of view.   You can go here to read and rate the essay and it would be especially great if any fellow FQXi members would do that.

Return to blogging

I have decided to try to make a return to blogging and I am intending to write new posts about once or twice a week. Making a statement like this is dangerous, as veteran bloggers know well, as it usually leads to several month’s radio silence. Nevertheless, I hope that making this announcement will give me enough motivation to actually go through with it.

For those of you who are not up-to-date with the latest Matt Leifer gossip, I essentially gave up blogging at the end of 2007 because I came down with a mysterious illness that, amongst other things, ruined my ability to do anything that requires concentration. I had to take an indefinite leave of absence from work in April 2008 and I can attest that this is not a fantastic thing to do for your academic career when you are still a postdoc. I have since been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a controversial syndrome that does not have any very effective treatments (at least none of them have really worked for me so far). Although I am not really feeling any better, I have decided to try and work part-time for a couple of days a week and I am in the process of transferring the remainder of my FQXi grant to University College London to pay my salary for about eight months.

As you can imagine, I have built up a lot of internal rants about quantum theory in the couple of years since I stopped blogging, so I do not think I will have much trouble coming up with topics to write about. One person who should be especially glad about my return to blogging is Chad Orzel, because it means that I will have far less time to write overly long comments on his blog whenever he writes something about that touches on the foundations of quantum theory.

Hope to see you round here sometime soon!

FQXi Article

Download a popular account of some of my work from the FQXi site (pdf).

Fqxi article

A popular article about my fqxi project has just appeared on the fqxi community page.  Download it here.

Back into the swing

After a brief lack of blogging inspiration I’m hoping to get back into the swing, starting with this post over at fqxi on a recent Workshop.

Latest fqxi post

View my latest post on the fqxi forums here.

fqxi award announcements

There has been quite a bit of discussion on physics blogs recently about the announcement of the Foundational Questions Institute grants a couple of days ago. The stated aim of the institute is:

To catalyze, support, and disseminate research on questions at the foundations of physics and cosmology, particularly new frontiers and innovative ideas integral to a deep understanding of reality but unlikely to be supported by conventional funding sources.

In the blogs and comments, some have praised the choice of grantees, whilst others have criticized it for being too conservative, a waste of time, or for not including grants for some particular foundational topics that they think are important. The connection of fqxi to the Templeton foundation has also been extensively debated. Being a recipient of a grant myself, I obviously think they made at least some good choices, and am looking forward to being able to do some foundational work without having to pretend it has any practical applications in quantum information.

For those who complained about the choice of topics, I would just say that they can only work with the proposals they actually receive, so if people want to change the range of topics that are supported then I think the best way to do so is to submit a strong proposal to the next call.  To other critics, I would say that the worth of fqxi should ultimately be judged by the quality of research that is produced, rather than any predjudices one might have about what makes good foundational research, and this will become clear over the next couple of years.