Emergence of Objective Reality: new research consortium and preprint

27 Feb 2023

Our group has embarked on a new research collaboration titled ‘Emergence Of Objective Reality: From Qubit To Oscilloscope’ funded with US$600k by the John Templeton Foundation.

Last week we shared the project’s first results: a relation of quantum measurement to the process of thermodynamic equilibration. The open-access preprint is available via the arXiv.

The research consortium is jointly lead by Prof Felix Binder along with collaborators Dr Maximilian Lock and Dr Nicolai Friis at TU Wien in Vienna. The experimental groups of Mehul Malik (Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh), and Jörg Schmiedmayer (TU Wien), as well as Marcus Huber’s theory group (TU Wien), and philosopher Lina Jansson (University of Nottingham) are collaborators. In Dublin, Dr. Alessandro Candeloro, who joined us as postdoctoral researcher last month, is leading the investigations.

The central aim of the research project is to tackle one of the longest-standing unsolved questions in physics: how does the everyday world we see emerge from microscopic quantum physics? The consortium will address this question by taking a thermodynamic perspective.

The ‘measurement postulate’ at the core of quantum theory is seemingly in conflict with the laws of thermodynamics which lie at the core of physics as a whole. This raises the question: why does this ‘measurement’ postulate seem to not only be verified by quantum experiments in laboratories around the world but moreover give rise to modern quantum technologies such as quantum computing? This makes it all the more important to address the problem with a thermodynamic perspective and the modern tools of quantum and non-equilibrium thermodynamics. The team will not only attempt to reconcile measurement with thermodynamics but in fact reveal measurement as a natural consequence of thermodynamic processes.

The results of this project will be of immense value to our most fundamental understanding of physics and will also bear direct impact on emerging quantum technologies and on thermodynamics at the nanoscale. The kick-off meeting was held in the Atominstitut in Vienna (group picture below). Over three days, the researchers shared initial results and constituted working groups for the coming two years. The project will culminate with a planned international conference at Trinity College Dublin in summer 2024.