Physics Colloquium - Quantum Mechanics and Cosmology in Large Universes

Event Date: 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014 - 4:00pm

Event Location: 

  • Broida 1640

Event Contact: 


Sean Carroll, Theoretical Physics, Caltech


Modern physics frequently envisions scenarios in which the universe is very large indeed: large enough that any allowed local situation is likely to exist more than once, perhaps an infinite number of times. Multiple copies of you might exist elsewhere in space, in time, or on other branches of the wave function. I will argue that such duplication is inevitable the Everett (Many-Worlds) formulation of quantum mechanics, and has a beneficial effect: it leads to a simple derivation of the Born Rule for quantum probabilities. Duplication can be a bad thing in cosmology, where it leads to Boltzmann Brains and the cosmological measure problem. I will argue that an improved understanding of quantum fluctuations shows that Boltzmann Brains are not real phenomena, since they don’t correspond to decoherent branches of the wave function.