Applications are now closed.


Young Researchers Competition
in Honor of John Archibald Wheeler

$10,000 First Prize
Seven $5,000 Second Prizes

Deadline for Application: January 31, 2002

Click here for a PDF version of this announcement for printing purposes.

Description of Competition

Fifteen young research scientists born on or after January 1, 1970 will be selected in an open competition worldwide to participate in the Science & Ultimate Reality symposium and book project celebrating the vision of John Archibald Wheeler.

This entire project and competition are focused on the future of innovative research into the nature of "quantum reality" and related challenges and are inspired by Wheeler's "Really Big Questions" ("RBQs"):

  • Why the quantum?
  • How come existence?
  • It from bit?
  • A "participatory universe"?
  • What makes "meaning"?

Space for display of posters also will be provided throughout the duration of the conference, Symposium attendees will include distinguished research physicists from around the world focusing on challenges for the coming decades in areas related to deep exploration of the nature and meaning of quantum reality.

Application, Screening, and Judging Process

Each submission should consist of the following components: (1) an abstract of 500 words or less related to one or more of the four conference themes (see below); (2) tables, diagrams, and equations, as well as any necessary references, all to be encompassed in three additional pages or less; and (3) a biosketch of 500 words or less, including date of birth, and preferably with Web links to any professional publications or preprints that would assist those involved in the evaluation and selection process. All parts are to be sent electronically and may be in PDF (preferred), postscript, jpg, or plain-text format. (Note that the content of all presentations, in any format, will be saved and subsequently made available archivally.)

Screening committees will pare the number of submitted abstracts to no more than 45 and then narrow the field down to the 15 who will be invited to make presentations at the conference. Based on the short presentations and the submitted materials, appointed judges from among the expert symposium attendees will evaluate the research and award eight prizes, seven of $5,000 each and a first-place prize of $10,000, at the luncheon on Monday, March 18. The eight winners will be invited to submit short chapters for possible inclusion in a special section of the post-conference book that will include 30 chapters by distinguished scientists. The book is expected to convey the spirit of John Wheeler's style of bold adventure into the quest for deep physical understanding of existence. (To reiterate, full expenses will be paid for all 15 presenters.)

Topical Areas and Judging Criteria

Winners will be selected on the basis of outstanding merit. Candidates should not apply unless their work is innovative and substantively engaged with the ideas raised by Wheeler's questions related to quantum reality. Submissions should relate to one or more of the following program themes on which the symposium and book are based:

I: Quantum Reality (Theory)

II: Quantum Reality (Experiment)

III: "Big Ideas" in Cosmology

IV: Emergence, Life, & Related Topics

The judging criteria are:

1. Relevance to Wheeler's "RBQs" related to the deep nature of reality

2. Depth, innovativeness, and persuasiveness of the research

3. Record of accomplishment of the applicant

The Organizing Committee thanks you on behalf of the Program Oversight and Program Development Committees

Young Researchers Finalists
(pdf file)

The initial phase of the Young Researchers Competition has been concluded, and we will be treated to fifteen outstanding presentations on Sunday afternoon, March 17. Sixty-four applications were received representing twelve countries, and fifteen young researchers have been invited to attend the symposium -- ten men and five women coming from eight different countries, with nearly half of them giving reports on experimental work. Their names, affiliations, and project titles are now posted on the Web site.

Winners of The Young Researchers Competition
in Physics Announced

Two Physicists Share $15,000 First Prize for Papers in Quantum Gravity

Raphael Bousso, from the University of California, Santa Barbara and Fotini Markopoulou-Kalamara, from the University of Waterloo, Canada shared the top prize. Both work in the area of quantum gravity. They were among 15 finalists, ten men and five women, between the ages of 24 and 32, from eight countries. Six other young physicists, from four different countries, were selected as second place winners, each receiving $5,000. Full Story

Organizing Committee

Charles Harper, Executive Director, John Templeton Foundation:
William Grassie, Executive Director, Metanexus Institute:
Kenneth Ford, Program Consultant:
Pamela Bond, Program Consultant: