Lex Fridman interviews Lee Smolin, a theoretical physicist, co-inventor of loop quantum gravity, and a contributor of many interesting ideas to cosmology, quantum field theory, the foundations of quantum mechanics, theoretical biology, and the philosophy of science.

He is the author of several books including one that critiques the state of physics and string theory called The Trouble with Physics, and his latest book, Einstein’s Unfinished Revolution: The Search for What Lies Beyond the Quantum.

This conversation is part of the Artificial Intelligence podcast. 

Time Stamps:

  • 0:00 – Introduction
  • 3:03 – What is real?
  • 5:03 – Scientific method and scientific progress
  • 24:57 – Eric Weinstein and radical ideas in science
  • 29:32 – Quantum mechanics and general relativity
  • 47:24 – Sean Carroll and many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics
  • 55:33 – Principles in science
  • 57:24 – String theory

Why is it that we can see these multiple histories play out on the quantum scale, and why do lose sight of them on our macroscopic scale?

Many physicists believe that the answer lies in a process known as quantum decoherence.

Does conscious observation of a quantum system cause the wavefunction to collapse? The upshot is that more and more physicists think that consciousness – and even measurement – doesn’t directly cause wavefunction collapse.

In fact probably there IS no clear Heisenberg cut. The collapse itself may be an illusion, and the alternate histories that the wavefunction represents may continue forever. The question then becomes: why is it that we can see these multiple histories play out on the quantum scale, and why do lose sight of them on our macroscopic scale? Many physicists believe that the answer lies in a process known as quantum decoherence. 

It’s not surprising that the profound weirdness of the quantum world has inspired some outlandish explanations – nor that these have strayed into the realm of what we might call mysticism.

One particularly pervasive notion is the idea that consciousness can directly influence quantum systems – and so influence reality.

PBS Space Time examines where this idea comes from, and whether quantum theory really supports it. 

Lex Fridman interviews Sean Carroll in this thought provoking interview.

Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at Caltech and Santa Fe Institute specializing in quantum mechanics, arrow of time, cosmology, and gravitation. He is the author of several popular books including his latest on quantum mechanics (Something Deeply Hidden) and is a host of a great podcast called Mindscape. This conversation is part of the Artificial Intelligence podcast.

This is the second time Sean has been on the podcast. You can watch the first time here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-NJrvyRo0c