The new semester is going to start soon and with it our Naturwissenschaftscafè is going to continue. Hopefully all of you had relaxing holidays and were able to recharge your energy.
The topic of the next meeting is going to be “How to charge a quantum Battery” and will be prepared by Ben. It will take place on the 28th of February at 19:00 in Cafè Tunnel.
To get some insight on the topic pleas consider reading the provided literature:
Since this is a rather specialized topic and we are a very interdisciplinary community Ben will keep it rather basic. So please don’t hesitate to come if the topic makes you interested.
Besides that there will be an organizational discussion about the day and time of our meetings in the new semester and some other stuff.
Whether there exists something ‘real’ to be described by science is one of the oldest question in philosophy of science, and it is one of the fundamental pillars on which scientific disciplines are built. In particular, are theoretical entities introduced by scientific theories merely useful predictive tools, or rather do they offer a faithful description of an outside ‘real’ world? Do we have scientific (i.e. non-metaphysical) methods to discriminate between these world views?
In this regard, foundations of natural sciences were shaken by the advent of quantum mechanics. Indeed, this theory demolished most of the a priori ideas, upon which classical theories were built, including the conception of reality. Crucial fundamental issues in quantum theory, such as the ontological status of the wave function and of the properties of particles are still heatedly debated. As D. Mermin pointed out, “today, nearly 90 years after its formulation, disagreement about the meaning of the [quantum] theory is stronger than ever. New interpretations appear every day. None ever disappear”.
Despite the importance of the concept of realism for science, fundamental issues of such a kind are rarely treated in as much detail as they would deserve in university courses. Therefore, a group of students of the University of Vienna from different scientific fields (see https://naturwissenschaftscafe.wordpress.com/) have organised a lecture series devoted to the subject of scientific realism. The lecture series will consist of nine lectures (in SS 2018), held by some of the most prominent (both international and local) professors in the field of foundations of quantum mechanics and philosophy of science. Moreover, the lecture series will be an official course of the University of Vienna, for which students could get ECTS upon passing an exam.
Further information can be found on Ufind under the following link: https://ufind.univie.ac.at/en/course.html?lv=260020&semester=2018S
This initiative has been stimulated also by a very successful (over 200 attendees) symposium on foundations of science, entitled “Shut Up and Contemplate!”, which was organised in March 2017 (https://shutupandcontemplatesymposium.wordpress.com/).
In our next meeting Flavio will discuss the question “What is Fundamental?” and expound his and Chiara’s viewpoint on the topic. The meeting will take place on the 17th of January at 8pm in Tunnel Vienna.
The Topic was inspired by the Community Essay Contest of Foundational Questions Institute (FQXi), in which Flavio and Chiara participate. Their essay “Demolishing prejudices to get to the foundations” can be found and commented under the following link:
To have some structure, the suggested way of reading the essay is:
- Level 1-general idea:
Until page 6, second paragraph (the one ending with “for every future scientifically significant theory.”)
- Level 2-examples from physics:
the whole text
The next Naturwissenschaftscafé will take place on the 19th of December at 20:00 in Tunnel Vienna.
This time Moe will talk about Quantum Brain Dynamics and how current studies in Quantum Biology and Neuroscience deal with phenomena like “Quantum Conciousness” and quantum information processing in the brain.
The topics discussed are highly speculative and may contain some philosophic and even esoteric components. When reading into the field, I got the feeling that it is very important to stay open AND critical. I’m looking forward to an open discussion, because there seems to be no consensus in the scientific community whatsoever.
I will start with a short introduction in Neural Network Theory and how its assumptions are based on classical physics.
Then I want to give you an overview about the hypothesis that sparked the speculative discussion about “Quantum Conciousness”, which was developed by Penrose and Hameroff in the 90s.
And finally, I would like to talk about the current status of Quantum Neuroscience and which hypothesis have been killed by in-depth analysis:
and which are still alive:
For the preperation of the discussion it would be ideal to watch the first video, read the abstract of the arxiv paper and the quantamagzine article 🙂
The next meeting will take place on Fr 2.6. at 18:00 again in Tunnel Vienna.
This times Topic will be: Should we colonize Mars?, prepared by Thomas.Please make use of the great amount of Literature Thomas provided and read into the topic so we can have a nice discussion:
Level 1 Fundaments
As basis for our discussion I take this article in the Jacobin Magazine on the difficulties of governing a future Mars colony:
A critical view on Space X’s endeavours of colonizing the red planet and their moral context:
Level 2 Background
A response on the Aeon article on Space X’s efforts and how space exploration can aid humankind:
More on the Jacobin Magazine article in an interview with the author:
For more on space fairing context, a somewhat blue-eyed but fun to read article on how we would colonize Mars as part three of a series of posts on space colonization by waitbutwhy:
Level 3 Moar, moar, moar!
Videos and articles on the context of space travel:
The next NWC will be held upcoming Friday 7th April at 6pm at the faculty of physics in Strudlhofgasse 4.
First, I would like you to revisit the materials from last time about Bells Inequality and local realism. Also Flavio already included nice material about Leggett-Garg Inequalities and macrorealism.
Second, here are my resources:
Level 1: I will cover basically the Legget-Garg and Kochen-Specker Theorems and how they could be experimentally tested to rule out certain QM Interpretations similar to Bell’s Inequality and local realism. A good starting point:
Level 2: Kofler and Bruckner have written a nice comparison between Bell and L-G, also thinking about experiments that violate macrorealism:
And (my all-time favorite) Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has a review over Kochen-Specker and it’s implications:
Level Experimental Metaphysics:
Well, in one meeting we probably won’t have time to cover more, but for the sake of completeness on experimental tests of quantum foundations, one has to add the current notion of decoherence as most promising solution to the measurement problem. Also this gives an idea why the many-worlds interpretation gains momentum right now.
Here is a recent overview of how decoherence relates to different interpretations:
And the legendary lecture of Harvard Professor Sidney Coleman “Quantum Mechanics in your Face”: