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The Problems of Physics$
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Anthony Leggett

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199211241

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199211241.001.0001

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Skeletons in the cupboard

Skeletons in the cupboard

(p.144) 5 Skeletons in the cupboard
The Problems of Physics

A. J. Leggett

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses three fundamental questions which the majority of the physics community believes are not worthy of attention and a minority believes are crucial and in urgent need of attention. The first concerns the “anthropic principle”: to what extent is it an “explanation” of basic physical data, such as the dimensionality of space-time, the values of the fundamental constants, etc., to observe that were they appreciably different, human life and consciousness could not have evolved to the point of asking the question? The second has to do with the “arrow of time”: how is the everyday sense of the “flow” of time from past to future consistent with the invariance of the laws of physics under time reversal? The third problem is how to incorporate the occurrence of definite outcomes within the framework of quantum mechanics (the “quantum measurement problem”).

Keywords:   anthropic principle, arrow of time, statistical mechanics, quantum measurement problem, interference, hidden-variable theories, Bell's theorem, irreversibility, many-worlds interpretation

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