Emergence of physical laws

01.07.2019 - 30.06.2020

The emergence of laws, i.e. the appearance of novel physical models at different complexity scales is a

ubiquitous, yet poorly understood, fact of nature. From quantum field theories to atomic physics, from

quantum mechanics to thermodynamics, from atomic physics to chemistry, science always finds the

emergence of new effective theories and models at different scales. Logical consistency dictates that these

new emergent laws are a natural consequence of the more fine grained microdynamics. And exactly these

transitions are still under-researched and central questions remain open: When does a microscopic theory

allow for emergent laws? Why does it seem to happen only at particular sizes/coarse grainings? Can we

predict this emergence from the microdynamics? Is it unique or just a consequence of the questions we

ask/the measurements we do?

This project wants to explore this daunting task via a two-fold approach. In a bottom up approach we want

to understand the mathematical structure behind any such transition. Understanding physical laws as

algorithmic and operational procedures allows a rigorous mathematical treatment and the development of

toy models to understand the ultimate structure behind emergent laws. A top-down approach, analysing data

from quantum many-body experiments will provide guidance through a physically motivated and relevant

question that provides the ideal test-bed for the general mathematical ideas.





  • Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften (ÖAW) Ausschreibungskennung ESQ Discovery Programm


  • Quantum Physics and Quantum Technologies