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The revolutionary physical theories of the early 20th century (relativity and quantum mechanics) have vastly increased our understanding of the natural world, but also created deep puzzles. For example, quantum mechanics allows "Schrodinger's cat" states, in which a physical system is in, eg., several different positions at once. Such "superpositions" have now been realized in the laboratory with macroscopic devices. Experiments like these suggest remarkable new technologies, like quantum computation, working according to rules which defy common sense- and which will transform the way our society operates. They also raise fundamental questions about the nature of the physical world, calling into question the very language we use to describe it and ourselves.

These PITP public lectures are intended for a broad audience, from inside and outside the university. They provide a forum for outstanding researchers from around the world, as well as from UBC, to discuss the work in this area and to present it in a way accessible to non-specialists, including the general public. While the seminars concentrate on questions associated in some way with quantum phenomena, ideas on various foundational problems in physics and the philosophy of science are also be covered. Past lecturers include physicists, philosophers, and historians, and in future we envisage other lecturers from outside science. Informal discussion between the speaker and the audience is encouraged, and the discussion period usually goes on for at least 45 mins after the lecture.

The seminars will usually take place on the 2nd Wednesday of each month, in the evening. For news about upcoming lectures, go to upcoming lectures. If you wish to be put on the electronic mailing list for this series, and for other PITP public announcements, send a message to our program assistant.