The symposium's program, cosponsored by the John Templeton Foundation and the Peter Gruber Foundation Cosmology Prize, provides a high-level forum for some of the most visionary and innovative research in physics today. The oversight of the program is provided by a committee of distinguished physicists and chaired by Freeman Dyson, of the Institute of Advanced Study. Using some of Wheeler's provocative ideas as a point of departure - such as, "Why the quantum?", "It from bit", and "How come existence?" - participants will present bold, new conceptual approaches toward defining and understanding the leading-edge questions that will frame physics in the new century.
The program features some of the world's most prominent physicists including: Andreas Albrecht, Raymond Chiao, Freeman Dyson, Marcelo Gleiser, Lucien Hardy, Stuart Kauffman, Robert Laughlin, Andrei Linde, Juan Maldacena, Joao Magueijo, Christopher Monroe, Lisa Randall, Lee Smolin, Aephraim Steinberg, Max Tegmark, Anton Zeilinger, and Wojciech Zurek.
In further tribute to Professor Wheeler, who taught several generations of physicists, the Science & Ultimate Reality symposium will also feature the work of promising young physicists under the age of 32. Fifteen finalists from a Young Researchers Competition will present brief research papers at the symposium where seven second-place prize winners will receive $5,000 each, and a first place winner will receive $10,000. (http://www.templeton.org/ultimate_reality/competition.htm).
Focusing on the Big Picture in Physics
The symposium is part of a larger, long-term philanthropic program being launched by the John Templeton Foundation to develop a set of research sponsorship initiatives in basic science focusing on the questions being posed on the frontiers of physics. This vision holds that the process of scientific exploration of the deep nature of reality has a profound significance for human self-understanding, especially in relation to the conceptualization of "ultimate reality" for the future.
The symposium comprises one element of the Science & Ultimate Reality initiative. Another planned project is the publication of a major book scheduled to be published in 2003, authors will include speakers at the symposium.
Four areas have been identified around which both the symposium and the book will be organized (http://www.templeton.org/ultimate_reality/topical.htm).
Quantum Reality (Theory)
Quantum Reality (Experiment)
Big Ideas in Cosmology
Emergence, Life, & Related Major Topics
"Scientific advances provide an exceptional opportunity to conceptualize reality empirically within the same continuum for ultimate reality by the world's great philosophical thinkers," says Charles Harper, Executive Director of the John Templeton Foundation. "John Wheeler's contribution to elucidating this quest has been characterized by his lifelong dedication to basic scientific research focused on making substantive advances toward a deep, comprehensive, integrated understanding of the nature of reality."
John Wheeler is best known for addressing many of the most fundamental and challenging issues in physics. Several of the large-scale topics he has worked on focus on areas of inquiry at the frontiers of knowledge where physics and philosophy meet. Another key facet of Professor Wheeler's leadership has been his teaching. His legacy flourishes, carried forward by the research performed by several generations of physicists whom he has influenced and inspired. The Physics & Ultimate Reality program celebrates the life and vision of John Wheeler.
About The John Templeton
The Foundation currently funds more than 250 projects, studies, award programs and publications worldwide.
About The Peter Gruber Foundation
The gold medal and $150,000 cash prize is presented annually to a leading cosmologist, astronomer, astrophysicist, or scientific philosopher in recognition of his or her groundbreaking theoretical, analytical, or conceptual discoveries.