How did our universe come to be? Is our cosmos uncannily tuned to nurture intelligent life? Is time an illusion? How did reality itself emerge? Such questions have fascinated religious thinkers and confounded philosophers and scientists for centuries. The past decade, however, has seen substantial scientific progress in these fields. Cosmologists now ask whether we live in a multiverse of infinitely many universes. The latest particle physics experiments and astrophysical observations suggest physical parameters are even more intimately tied to our cosmos’s habitability than we thought. Einstein’s relativity implies that the differences we experience between past, present, and future are illusory; but physicists are proposing modified theories that might rescue time’s reality. In addition, quantum experiments suggest that causality breaks down at the microscales—and this effect may even be exploited by quantum technologies. Finally, physicists have proposed new ways that the “classical” everyday world emerges from the fuzzy uncertain quantum realm, how space and time themselves may be grown from quantum seeds, and even how free will, consciousness, intelligence, and agency might arise from the behaviour of mindless particles.
The time is ripe to review these theoretical developments, outline experimental opportunities, and illuminate open research questions.
We will produce four literature reviews, on the topics of: Cosmological Origins, Fine Tuning, Time, and Emergence. Many conflicting theories have been proposed to address big open questions related to these themes, along with experiments and observations to test them. The reviews will be scholarly yet accessible, and thus will both stimulate new academic research and allow the public to appreciate the strides made in understanding these deep aspects of reality.