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The riddle of the quantum sphinx: Robert Spekkens public lecture

Wednesday Feb. 7, 2018 at 7 PM ET

Tickets for seats in the theatre are now sold out.

The live webcast will appear on this page

 

The riddle of the quantum sphinx: Quantum states and category mistakes

Science is like puzzle-solving. Making sense of quantum theory is a particularly thorny kind of brain-twister, with more than its fair share of mysteries. If you are stuck on a puzzle, it may be because you have made a false assumption about the nature of some entity that is absolutely central to the whole business. If so, you have made a category mistake: you are not just wrong about what this entity is, but about what sort of thing it is.

In his Feb. 7 Public Lecture at Perimeter Institute, Robert Spekkens will explain why he believes that many quantum mysteries are a result of a category mistake concerning the nature of quantum states. Along the way, he will address some idiosyncratic questions, such as: What did Plato have to say about Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle? What do poorly implemented clinical drug trials have to do with “spooky action at a distance”? And, most importantly, what did the successful deciphering of Egyptian hieroglyphs teach us about the interpretation of quantum theory?

Spekkens is a Faculty member at Perimeter Institute whose research examines the foundations of quantum theory. He co-edited the book Quantum Theory: Informational Foundations and Foils, and he is a Project Leader of the international research collaboration “Quantum Causal Structures.” In 2012, he won first prize in the Foundational Questions Institute (FQXi) essay contest “Questioning the Foundations: Which of Our Assumptions Are Wrong?” He lives in Waterloo with his wife and three-year-old son.

Robert Spekkens graciously accepted the invitation to deliver the Feb. 7 after the originally scheduled speaker, Rob Moore, had to postpone due to travel restrictions. Moore will deliver his talk at Perimeter this spring.

General Information:

Attendance to the lecture is free, but advance tickets are required. Due to the overwhelming response to past lectures, tickets will be honoured until 6:45 pm only. If you have not arrived by 6:45 pm your reservation may be filled by guests in our waiting line, and you may be asked to join the end of the waiting line.

Waiting Line Experience:
There will be a waiting line for last minute cancelled (or ‘no show’) seats on the night of the lecture. Doors open at 5:30 pm. Come to Perimeter and pick-up a waiting line chit at the Waiting Line sign and then participate in pre-lecture activities – no need to wait in line. An announcement will be made in the Bistro at 6:45pm if theatre seats are available. Note: you must arrive in person to be part of the waiting line and be in the Bistro when the waiting line announcement is made.

No Disappointments:
Everyone who comes to Perimeter will be able to participate in the lecture. The public lecture will be shown simultaneously on closed circuit television in the comfort of the licensed Black Hole Bistro for any members of the waiting line who are not able to get a theatre seat.

Live Webcast:
Enjoy the live webcast of Perimeter Institute Public Lectures from the comfort of your own home. Join us at 7pm ET night of the lecture and be part of the online audience.

For most lectures, the on-demand playback will be online within 24 hours of the live event. Check Perimeter’s YouTube channel for the on-demand videos.

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