Experimental Tests of Quantum Reality

  • TWCF Number:


  • Project Duration:

    October 1, 2013 - September 30, 2016

  • Core Funding Area:

    Big Questions

  • Region:


  • Amount Awarded:


Director: Professor Andrew Briggs

Institution: University of Oxford

The project investigates what aspects of reality are amenable to experimental investigation. The guiding question is: “How can foundational questions about the nature of quantum reality be investigated by scientific method?” Within the scope of this overall question, we specifically seek to answer three questions formulated at the conference about experiments to probe the foundations of quantum physics:

1. What experiments can probe macroscopic superpositions, including tests of Leggett-Garg inequalities?

2. What experiments are useful for large complex systems, including technological and biological?

3. How can the progressive collapse of the wave function be experimentally monitored?

We seek to assess the answers to these questions in regard to their ultimate theo-philosophical significance. The project involves devising and implementing experiments which enable aspects of the nature of quantum reality, relevant to the measurement being made, to be investigated practically. Our three chosen systems for the experiments are molecular devices, spin chains or lattices such as order-disorder ferroelectrics or simple ferromagnets, and ion traps.

Each experiment will be preceded by a rigorous evaluation of the quantum coherence required for the hypothesis to be tested. In order to apply the progress on the three questions to philosophical and theological beliefs, there will be a further sub-project on experimental metaphysics, which will address the question: how can metaphysical beliefs be informed by empirical investigations? The results of the research will be presented at international conferences, and will be published through internationally peer- reviewed scholarly journals, preferably with open access. The project will concentrate on the relation between theory, experiment, and philosophy, since this is where greatest advances are currently being made. There are important questions in the relation to theology, for example in the nature and properties of information. Foundational work undertaken in this project, if it is successful, could lead to new questions and avenues of enquiry into the nature of informational and physical reality and the relation between them, including questions of how information (including spiritual information) is accessible to physical beings, and how the divine might be instantiated physically (e.g. in the Christian doctrine of incarnation).


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