The riddle of the quantum sphinx

The riddle of the quantum sphinx

Watch it here on Wednesday February 7th at 7PM EST!

Science is like puzzle-solving. Making sense of quantum theory is a particularly thorny kind of brain-twister, with more than its fair share of mysteries. If you are stuck on a puzzle, it may be because you have made a false assumption about the nature of some entity that is absolutely central to the whole business. If so, you have made a category mistake: you are not just wrong about what this entity is, but about what sort of thing it is.

In his Feb. 7 Public Lecture at Perimeter Institute, Robert Spekkens will explain why he believes that many quantum mysteries are a result of a category mistake concerning the nature of quantum states. Along the way, he will address some idiosyncratic questions, such as: What did Plato have to say about Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle? What do poorly implemented clinical drug trials have to do with “spooky action at a distance”? And, most importantly, what did the successful deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphs teach us about the interpretation of quantum theory?

Use the hashtag #piLIVE to post questions via Facebook or Twitter! For most lectures the on-demand playback will be online within 24 hours after the live event.

About Robert Spekkens

Spekkens is a faculty member at Perimeter Institute whose research examines the foundations of quantum theory. He co-edited the book Quantum Theory: Informational Foundations and Foils, and he is a Project Leader of the international research collaboration “Quantum Causal Structures.” In 2012, he won first prize in the Foundational Questions Institute (FQXi) essay contest “Questioning the Foundations: Which of Our Assumptions Are Wrong?” He lives in Waterloo with his wife and three-year-old son.