7:30 pm, Wednesday, March 14, 2007|
Fairmont Social Lounge, St. John's College
Background Independence in Physics
Department of Philosophy, University of Pittsburgh
Any unified quantum theory of matter and gravity needs to incorporate
into the fabric of physics the lessons implicit in general relativity.
One of the most revolutionary features of general relativity is its
background-independence: it treats space and time as actors in the
drama, rather than as a fixed stage upon which the play is set. Opinions
vary on how to make precise the notion of
background-independence. I will discuss a few classic attempts which
turn upon the notions of general covariance, absoluteness, and
relationalism, and argue that none of them is adequate to our
intuitions. I will then suggest a (deceptively simple) analysis of
background independence: a theory is fully background-independent if
according to it, no two physical possibilities correspond to the same
Find out more
by visiting his website.
Additional resources for this talk: video, slides.