"SCIENCE AND ULTIMATE REALITY," a meeting about forefront theoretical and experimental physics, was held at Princeton 15-18 March in honor of John Wheeler's 90th birthday and his many contributions to quantum mechanics, cosmology, and information science. Such a meeting is especially timely because these fields have enjoyed a burst of fruitful research in recent years. New experiments demonstrating nonlocality, the idea that an event in one place can affect an event at another place more quickly than it would take a light pulse to pass from the one place to the other, and the pursuit of robust systems which could perform extended "quantum computing," have energized the study of quantum reality. In the celestial realm the advent of automated redshift surveys of the galaxies and compilation of sharp maps of the cosmic microwave background are making possible an era of "high precision cosmology." Full Story


In initiating this major new research sponsorship initiative, the Science & Ultimate Reality program honors John Wheeler by supporting reports on advanced research in areas close to a number of his most passionate interests. Topics of particular appeal will seek to address comprehensive challenges, for example those exemplified by Wheeler's much discussed question, "Why the quantum?," as well as by his research agenda on information and reality, "It from bit?" Wheeler himself has emphasized his enthusiasm for work that addresses the mega-question, as he puts it, "How come existence?"

Science & Ultimate Reality has two primary components: (1) a major book project with a very generous financial basis from Sir John Templeton consisting of honoraria of $10,000 each for 30 book chapters and (2) a symposium to be held in the Harrison/Merrill Lynch Conference Center in the Princeton area, Friday evening to Monday afternoon, March 15-18, 2002 (beginning with check-in for overnight attendees on Friday, March 15, at 4:00 PM). The program is not focused on reviewing science's past accomplishments. Nor is it focused primarily on cutting-edge discussion of key current issues of contemporary fascination. Instead, it seeks to provide a relatively unusual forum in which to encourage and stimulate open-ended innovative creativity in beginning to frame new and novel approaches toward cracking major unsolved mega-issues over the next few decades. Participants will take particular care to consider the unusual nature of this necessarily risky and diffuse mandate. While our ultimate intention is to give major support for serious research, we also want to plan a near-term project that is high-level, innovative, distinctive, and fun—a unique event with a future focus and the involvement of important young innovators.