Category Archives: Uncategorized

Talk Next Week: Fedele Lizzi

• Wednesday 16 October 2019 at UIC at 11 am – Fedele Lizzi (Napoli): Pointless Physics

Abstract: I will describe the role of points in modern physics, and in particular in the attempts to built a theory of quantum gravity. Modern theories will require a quantum spacetime, and in it the usual concept of point, as we have used so far, may lose its meaning. In particular I will discuss noncommutative geometry, a branch born to describe the quantum space of velocity and momenta, and how it could be useful in quantum gravity. In terms of technical difficulty, this talk rates 3/5 3.

Further details at

Please join us! (We will try to stream on YouTube.)


New Templeton Grant Awarded

The Beyond Spacetime project of Nick Huggett (Illinois-Chicago) and Christian Wüthrich (Geneva) announces the award of a $600K grant from the John Templeton Foundation, to support their work on the project “Cosmology Beyond Spacetime”. Activities will include pre- and post-doctoral fellowships, speaker series, meetings, and publications. Follow the project on, where some activities are already advertised; more information will follow soon.

Beyond Spacetime at Pitt 2020-21

The Center for Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh invites applications for Fellowships supporting visits in the Center for a term or an academic year during the year 2020-2021.  For details, visit the Center Website, and see:

Postdoctoral Fellowship<>
Visiting Fellowship<>

The Center is pleased to announce that Nick Huggett will be the Senior Visiting Fellow for the academic year September 2020 – April 2021.  We encourage applications for Postdoctoral and Visiting Fellowships from scholars whose research intersects with Professor Huggett’s.

CFP: Conference on the Foundations of Cosmology and Quantum Gravity

Call for Papers: Conference on the Foundations of Cosmology and Quantum Gravity 

At New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) on January 19-21, 2020. 

The conference is being jointly sponsored by the NYUAD Institute and two generous grants from the Templeton Foundation—one supporting the ‘Beyond Spacetime’ project based at Illinois-Chicago and Geneva, and the other supporting the `New Directions in Philosophy of Cosmology’ based at UC-Irvine and Western University.


Robert Brandenberger (Physics, McGill University)

Karen Crowther (Philosophy, University of Oslo)

Richard Dawid (Philosophy, Stockholm University)

Daniele Oriti (Physics, Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics)

Mairi Sakellariadou (Physics, Kings College London)

Chris Smeenk (Philosophy, Western University)

The problem of reconciling general relativity with quantum theory remains a persistent problem in theoretical physics. Competing approaches make salient deep conceptual disagreements that engage physicists, mathematicians, and philosophers alike. These disputes are particularly pressing in the cosmological context, both because the interaction between gravitational and quantum effects are likely to be pronounced in the early universe and because cosmology offers an arena in which one might conceivably adjudicate between competing approaches. Moreover, the ‘ingredient theories’ of modern and quantum cosmology: general relativity, statistical mechanics and quantum mechanics — possess their own unique conceptual difficulties and puzzles. In general relativity, for example, there are significant questions about how to understand the nature of spacetime singularities, and in quantum theory there are persistent questions about how to understand measurements, observers, and the phenomenon of decoherence when the framework is extended to the universe as a whole. How do these issues interact and inform each other in the development of quantum gravity, and what new conceptual puzzles does quantum gravity engender?

This conference explores the relationship between modern cosmology and theorizing about quantum gravity—in short, the foundations of quantum cosmology—with the aim of assessing recent proposals and exploring new directions for research. 

We anticipate bringing together philosophers and physicists whose work is at the forefront of foundational issues in these fields. We solicit papers on any topic in the philosophical foundations of cosmology and quantum gravity. We are particularly interested in work that addresses foundational issues involved in the interaction of quantum gravity with modern cosmology and astrophysics including blackholes.

Please submit an extended abstract of around 500 words, together with the title of the talk. The abstract should be anonymized for blind refereeing. Advanced PhD students or recent PhDs are particularly invited to submit abstracts, as are women and underrepresented minorities. All sessions will be videoed for public distribution after the meeting.  Accommodation and most meals will be covered for all selected speakers. In addition an honorarium of at least $600 if coming from Europe (or comparable distance) and at least $1200 if coming from North America (or comparable distance) will be provided for. (Contributing speakers will be responsible for their own travel costs.)

Deadline: 20th Oct 2019, with decisions being communicated by the second week of November.

Abstracts should be submitted to:

Organizing Committee:

Kevin Coffey (New York University Abu Dhabi)

Nick Huggett (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Joshua Norton (University of California, Irvine) 

Chris Smeenk (Western University)

Francesca Vidotto (Western University)

Jim Weatherall (University of California, Irvine)

Christian Wüthrich (University of Geneva) 

Please direct correspondence to: and

Support for this conference is provided by the John Templeton Foundation and the NYUAD Institute. 

New Video: String Theory Lecture Series

We have just posted a course of six lectures, explaining the basic formal and conceptual framework of string theory, suitable for those with a basic understanding of quantum mechanics and spacetime theory — those with a general familiarity with philosophy of physics, say. They were filmed last year at the University of São Paulo, with an audience of mostly physics undergraduates. You can find them here. Enjoy!

Happy new year – and a new video

Happy new year from the project – it will be a few weeks before we get going with speakers (, but we will be publishing some new videos: to start off, a lecture that I gave at the University of Washington in the Fall on the emergence of space in string theory, now in our BST-POP playlist: Enjoy.

de Haro speaks at UIC

Please join us for an essay prize winning talk at UIC on Wednesday – 1430 of University Hall, at 11.15am (or via Skype in Geneva): full details above.

• Wednesday 14 November 2018 at UIC – Sebastian de Haro (Amsterdam): On Theoretical Equivalence and Duality

Abstract: Theoretical equivalence and duality are two closely related notions: but their interconnection has so far not been well understood. In this paper I explicate the contribution of a recent schema for duality to discussions of theoretical equivalence and physical equivalence. I argue that duality suggests a construal of theoretical equivalence for the physical sciences. The construal is in terms of the isomorphism of models, as defined by the Schema. I illustrate the construal in various formulations of Maxwell’s electromagnetic theory, and in electric-magnetic duality. In terms of technical difficulty, this talk rates 3/5