Our Knowledge of Reality Through Fundamental Physical Constants

Project Overview

We know the values of the most fundamental physical constants to upwards of 10 significant figures — these high precision measurements constitute the most impressive epistemic achievement in the history of science.  Yet what exactly do physical constants tell us about the world?  On the one hand, knowledge of constants supports counterfactual reasoning, so it outstrips mere description of the observable phenomena; on the other, measurement of constants has improved monotonically across changes in high level theory, so it must be in some sense independent of abstract theory. This project aims to articulate the exact knowledge provided by high precision measurement of the physical constants, a knowledge of physical regularities and counterfactuals that falls somewhere in the grey area between observation and theory.

 

Project Events

An initial, Eidyn-supported, workshop Physical Constants between Observation and Theory will occur at the University of Edinburgh in autumn 2019 (exact date TBC). 

 

Project team: 
  • Alistair Isaac (Edinburgh)
  • Teru Miyake (NTU, Singapore)
  • Eran Tal (McGill, Canada)
  • George Smith (Tufts, USA)