Laws of Nature: Their Nature and Knowability

Conference Date: 
Thursday, May 20, 2010 (All day) to Saturday, May 22, 2010 (All day)
Scientific Areas: 
Quantum Information
Quantum Gravity


In any era, the laws of nature take certain forms, and these forms tend in turn to guide contemporary research. But new problems require new ways of thinking. This workshop will gather a small group of physicists, philosophers, and mathematicians in order to explore and share ideas on the nature of physical law. Topics will include the role of time in fundamental physics, the distinction between laws and initial conditions, and the role of mathematics in the formulation of physical law and the role of statistical inference in discovering, confirming, and falsifying laws, including recent explorations of limitations arising from our limited access to the object of study (be it the eternally-inflating universe or the physics of the Planck scale) and from more general considerations.


There will be 10 presentations over the course of three days, with ample time for discussion. All of the presenters will be expected to speak directly to one of the workshop topics. One other participant will serve as an official discussant, and provide thereby an entrée into discussion.



Niayesh Afshordi, Perimeter Institute

Anthony Aguirre, University of California, Santa Cruz

Julian Barbour, College Farm

Ariel Caticha, University of Albany (SUNY)

Paul Davies, Arizona State University

Doreen Fraser, University of Waterloo 

Marcelo Gleiser, Dartmouth College

Philip Goyal, Perimeter Institute

Lucien Hardy, Perimeter Institute

Sabine Hossenfelder, Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics

Jenann Ismael, University of Sydney

Kevin Kelly, Carnegie Mellon

Kevin Knuth, University of Albany (SUNY)

Janna Levin, Columbia University

Huw Price, University of Sydney

John Roberts, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

Lee Smolin, Perimeter Institute

Chris Smeenk, University of Western Ontario

Rob Spekkens, Perimeter Institute

Roberto Unger, Harvard University

Xiao-Gang Wen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology & Perimeter Institute

Mark Wilson, University of Pittsburgh