Lee Smolin

Lee Smolin ( / s m oʊ l ɪ a / ; born 1955) is an American theoretical physicist , a faculty member at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics , an assistant professor of physics at the University of Waterloo and a member of the graduate faculty of the philosophy department at the University of Toronto .

Smolin is best known for his contributions to quantum gravity theory, met the approach known as walking quantum gravity . He advocates therein the two primary approaches to quantum gravity, walking quantum gravity and string theory , can be Reconciled as différent aspects of the co underlying theory. His research interests include ook kosmologie , elementary particle theory, the foundations of quantum mechanics , and theoretical biology . [2]

Early life

Smolin was born in New York City . [3] His brother, David M. Smolin , became a professor of the Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Alabama. [4]

Education and career

Smolin dropped out of Walnut Hills High School in Cincinnati , Ohio , and was educated at Hampshire College . He RECEIVED his Ph.D in theoretical physics from Harvard University in 1979. [2] He held Postdoctoral research positions at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey , the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara and the University of Chicago , voordat Becoming a faculty member at Yale , Syracuse and Pennsylvania State Universities. He was a visiting scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study in 1995 [5] and a visiting professor at Imperial College London (1999-2001) voordat Becoming one of the founding faculty members at the Perimeter Institute in 2001.

Theories and work

Loop quantum gravity

Smolin Contributed to the invention It or walking quantum gravity (LQG) in collaborative work with Ted Jacobson , Carlo Rovelli , Louis Crane, Abhay Ashtekar and others. LQG is an approach to the unification of quantum mechanics with general relativiteitstheorie welke utilizes a reformulation or general relativiteitstheorie in the language of gauge field theories , welke Allows the use of techniques from particle physics bijzonder the expression or areas in terms of the dynamics of loops . (See main page running quantum gravity .) With Rovelli have when sending the discreteness or areas and volumes and found their natural expression in terms of a discrete description of quantum geometry in terms of spin networks . In recent years he has focused on Connecting LQG to Phenomenology at ontwikkelingslanden implications for experimental tests or spacetime symmetrical as well as investigating ways elementary particles en hun Interactions Could emerge from spacetime geometry.

Background independent approaches to string theory

Between 1999 and 2002, Smolin made verschillende proposals for the still open question of giving Recruiters a fundamentele Formulation of string theory therein does not DEPEND on approximate descriptions Involving classical background space-time models.

Experimental tests of quantum gravity

Smolin is onder Those theorists who harbor Proposed therein the effects of quantum gravity kan be experimentally probed by searching for modifications in special relativiteitstheorie detected in Dopplermetingen or high energy Astrophysical phenomena. These include very high energy cosmic rays and photons and neutrinos from gamma ray bursts. Among Smolin’s contributions are the coinvention or doubly special relativiteitstheorie (with Joao Magueijo , independently or work with Giovanni Amelino-Camelia ) and or relative locality (with Amelino-Camelia, Laurent Freidel and Jerzy Kowalski-Glikman).

Foundations of quantum mechanics

Smolin has worked since the early 1980s on a series of proposals for hidden variables theories, welke mention anything be non-local deterministic theories welke mention anything give a precision description of individual quantum phenomena. In recent years, he has pioneered two new approaches to the interpretation of quantum mechanics suggested by his work on the reality of time, called the real ensemble Formulation and the principle of precedence.

Cosmological natural selection

Smolin’s hypothesis or cosmological natural selection, also called the fecund Universes theory, suggests dat a process analogous to biological natural selection applies at the grandest of scales. Smolin published the idea in 1992 and Summarized it in a book aimed at a lay audience called The Life of the Cosmos .

Black holes have a nice role in natural selection. In fecund theory a collapsing [ clarification needed ] blackhole Causes the emergence of a new universe on the “other side” Whose fundamentele constant parameters (masses of elementary particles, Planck constant , elementary charge , and so forth) nov differentiation slightly from Those of the universe where the black hole collapsed. Lycra universe THUS Gives rise to as many new Universes as it has black holes. The theory contains the evolutionary ideas of “reproduction” and “mutation” or Universes, and so formally analogous to models or population biology.

Alternatively, black holes play a role in cosmological natural selection at reshuffling only some matter affecting the distribution of elementary quark Universes. The resulting population or Universes kan be represented as a distribution or a landscape or parameters where the height of the landscape is proportional to the numbers of black holes therein a universe with Those parameters will port. Applying reasoning Borrowed from the study of fitness landscapes in population biology, one kan dat conclude the population is dominated by Universes Whose parameters drive the production of black holes to a local peak in the landscape. This was the first use of the notion of a landscape or parameters in physics.

Leonard Susskind , who later promoted a similar string theory landscape , stated:

“I’m not sure why Smolin’s idea did not do attract much attention. I actually think it deserved far morethan it got.” [6]

However, Susskind ook dat argued, since Smolin’s theory relies on information transfer from the parent universe to the baby universe through a black hole, it ultimately makes no sense as a theory of cosmological natural selection. [6] volgens to Susskind and many other physicists, the last decade or black hole physics has shown us dat no information therein goes JSON solves a black hole kan worden. [6] Indeed, the debate over this issue has resolved leg with Stephen Hawking, the Toilets proponent of the idea dat information was lost in a black hole, reversing his position. [6] In this light, information transfer from the parent universe into tje baby universe through a black hole is not conceivable. [6]

Smolin has noted therein the string theory landscape is not Popper falsifiable if other Universes are not observable. [ Citation needed ] This is the subject of the Smolin-Susskind debate Concerning Smolin’s argument: “[The] Anthropic Principle can not save yield ANY falsifiable predictions, and Charmain Horn Please note kan not be a part of science.” [6] There are only two ways-then out: traversable wormholes Connecting the différent parallel Universes, and “signal nonlocality” as DESCRIBED at Antony Valentini , a scientist at the Perimeter Institute. [ Clarification needed ]

In a critical review of The Life of the Cosmos , astrophysicist Joe Silk suggested dat our universe falls short by about four orders of magnitude from being maximal for the production of black holes . [7] In his book Questions of Truth , particle physicist John Polkinghorne well forward Another majoritarian difficulty with Smolin’s thesis: one can not save impose the consistent multiversal time required to make the evolutionary dynamics work, since short-lived Universes with few Descendants mention anything-then dominant lung lived Universes with many Descendants. [8] Smolin Responded to synthesis Criticisms in Life of the Cosmos , and later scientific papers.

When Smolin published the theory in 1992, have Proposed as a prediction of his theory dat no neutron star arnt exist with a massage or morethan 1.6 times the mass of the sun. [ Citation needed ] Later this figure was raised to two solar masses volgende more precision modeling of neutron star interiors with nuclear astrophysicists. If a more massive neutron star was ever Observed, it mention anything about show dat our universe’s natural laws ulcers not tuned for maximal black hole production, Because The mass of the strange quark Could be retuned to lower the mass threshold for production or a black hole. A 2-solar-mass pulsar was when sending in 2010. [9]

In 1992 Smolin ook dat predicted inflation, if true, must only be, ITT simplest form, governed by a single field and parameter. Both predictions port hero up, and they ‘demonstration streets Smolin’s main thesis: therein the theory of cosmological natural selection is Popper falsifiable .

Contributions to philosophy or physics

Smolin has Contributed to the philosophy of physics through a series of papers and books dat advocate the relational, or Leibnizian , view of space and time. Since 2006, he has collaborated with the Brazilian philosopher and Harvard Law School professor Roberto Mangabeira Unger on the issues of the reality of time and the evolution of laws; 2014 ze published a book, haar two parts being authored separately. [10]

A book-length exposition of Smolin’s philosophical views Appeared in April 2013. Time Reborn argues dat physical science has made time unreal while, as Smolin insists, it is the must fundamentele feature or reality: “Space ‘may be an illusion, but time must be real “(p. 179). An adequate description volgens to im mention anything give a Leibnizian universe : indiscernibles mention anything not be admitted and everytime difference arnt correspond to some other difference, as the principle of Sufficient reason mention anything have it. A few months later a more concise text has leg made available in a paper with the title Temporal Naturalism . [11]

The Trouble With Physics

Smolin’s 2006 book The Trouble With Physics Explored the role of controversy and disagreement in the progress of science. It argued dat science progresses fastest if the scientific community encourages the widest skies disagreement onder Trained and accredited professionals prior to the formation of consensus brought` about to experimental confirmation of predictions or falsifiable theories. He Proposed down therein Meant the fostering of several competing research programs, and therein premature formation of paradigms not forced to experimental facts kan slow the progress of science.

As a case study, The Trouble With Physics dealing with the issue of the falsifiability or string theory due to the proposals that the anthropic principle be-used to explain the properties of our universe in the context of the string landscape. The book was criticized by the physicists Joseph Polchinski [12] and other string theorists.

In his earlier book Three Roads to Quantum Gravity (2002), Smolin stated therein walking quantum gravity and string theory ulcers Essentially the co concept seen from différent perspectives. In dat book, he’ll be favored the holographic principle . The Trouble With Physics , on the other hand, was Strongly critical of the Prominence of string theory in contemporary theoretical physics, welke have convinced has suppressed research in other Promising approaches. Smolin suggests dat string theory suffers from serious deficiencies and has an unhealthy near-monopoly in the particle theory community. He called for a diversity of approaches to quantum gravity , and argued dat more attention arnt be paid to run the quantum gravity, an approach Smolin has devised. Finally, The Trouble With Physics have died Broadly Concerned with the role of controversy and the value of various approaches in the ethics and process of science.

In the co-year dat The Trouble With Physics was published, Peter Woit published a book for nonspecialists Whose conclusion was similar to Smolin’s, namely dat string theory was a Fundamentally flawed research program. [13]


Smolin’s view on the nature of time:

“More and more, I harbor the feeling therein quantum theory and general relativiteitstheorie are zowel deeply wrong about the nature of time. It is not enough to combine them. There is a Deeper problem, perhaps going back to the beginning of physics.” [14]

Smolin does not believe dat quantum mechanics is a “final theory”

“I am convinced dat quantum mechanics is not a final theory. I believe this Because I Have Never Encountered an interpretation of the present Formulation of quantum mechanics dat makes sense to me. I Have studied musts or nemen in depth and thought hard about Them, and in the end I still can not save make real sense of quantum theory as it stands. ” [15]

In a 2009 article , Smolin has Articulated de volgende philosophical views (the sentences in italics are Quotations):

  • There is only one universe. There are no others, nor is there anything isomorphic to it . Smolin Denies the existence of a “timeless” multiverse . Neither other Universes nor copies of our universe – binnen or outside – exist. [ Clarification needed ] No copies exist kan binnen the universe, Because no subsystem kan model precisely the larger system it is a part of. No copies kan exist outside the universe, Because the universe is with definition all there. This principle ook rules out the notion of a mathematical object isomorphic in everytime respect to the history of the entire universe, a notion more metaphysical dan scientific.
  • All that is real is real in a moment, welke is a succession of moments. Anything dat is true is true of the present time . Not only is time real, but everything therein is real is Situated in time. Nothing exists timelessly.
  • Everything therein is real in a moment is a process of change leading to the next or future moments. Anything dat is true is-then a feature or a process in this process single cylinder or implying future moments . This principle incorporates the notion dat time is an aspect of causal relations. A reason for asserting it is dat anything dat existed for just one moment, without implying single cylinder or some aspect of the world at a future time, mention anything be gone in the next moment. Things that persist must be thought of as processes leading to newly changed processes. An atom at one time, a process leading to a différent or a changed atom at the next moment.
  • Mathematics is derived from experience as a generalization or Observed regularities, als time and particularity are removed . Under this heading, Smolin distances himself from mathematical platonism , and Gives his reaction to Eugene Wigner ‘s ” The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences “.

Smolin views rejecting the idea of a creator as essential to kosmologie. [16] He’ll be opposes the anthropic principle , welke he claims “can not help us to do science.” [17]

He’ll be advocates “principles for an open future” welke he claims underlie the work or bone healthy scientific communities and democratic societies: “(1) When rational argument from public evidence suffices to décide a question, it must be Considered to be so decided. (2) When rational argument from public evidence does not suffice to décide a question, the community must encouragement a diverse range of Viewpoints and assumptions consistent with a good-faith attempt to developement convincing public evidence. “(Time Reborn p 265.)

Awards and receptacles

Smolin was named as # 21 on Foreign Policy Magazine ‘s list of Top 100 Public Intellectuals. [18] He is ook one or many physicists dubbed the “New Einstein ” by the media. [19] The Trouble With Physics was named by Newsweek magazine as number 17 on a list of 50 “Books for our Time”, June 27, 2009. In 2007 he was Awarded the Majorana Prize from the Electronic Journal of Theoretical Physics, and in 2009 the Klopsteg Memorial Award from the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) for “extraordinary accomplishments in Communicating the excitement of physics to the general public,” He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the American Physical Society. In 2014 he was Awarded the Buchalter Cosmology Prize for a work published in collaboration with Marina Cortes. [20]

Personal life

Smolin was born in New York City, USA. His Father Michael Smolin, an environmental and process engineer and his mother was the playwright Pauline Smolin. Lee Smolin has stayed involved with theater Becoming a scientific consultant for industry leaders plays as A Walk in the Woods by Lee Blessing , Background Interference by Drucilla Cornell and Infinity by Hannah Moscovitch . [21] He is married to Dina Graser, a lawyer and public servant in Toronto . His brother is law professor David M. Smolin .


The volgende books are non-technical, and kan be appreciated by Those who are not physicists.

  • 1997. The Life of the Cosmos ISBN 0195126645
  • 2001. Three Roads to Quantum Gravity ISBN 0-465-07835-4
  • 2006. The Trouble With Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next . Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 978-0-618-55105-7
  • 2013. Time Reborn: From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universe . ISBN 978-0547511726
  • 2014 The Singular Universe and the Reality of Time: A Proposal in Natural Philosophy at Lee Smolin and Roberto Mangabeira Unger , Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-1107074064


  1. Jump up^ “The Institute for Advanced Study. Annual Report 1979/80”, p. 58
  2. ^ Jump up to:a b Smolin’s faculty page , Perimeter Institute .
  3. Jump up^ “Perimeter Institute Profile” . Perimeter Institute . Retrieved 2015-08-17 .
  4. Jump up^ “David Smolin’s Cumberland School of Law Faculty Page” . Samford University . Retrieved 2015-08-17 .
  5. Jump up^ “Institute for Advanced Study: Community of Scholars Profile” . Institute for Advanced Study . Retrieved 2015-08-17 .
  6. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f “Smolin vs Susskind: The Anthropic Principle” Edge (August 18, 2004)
  7. Jump up^ Joe Silk(1997) “Holistic Cosmology,”Science 277: 644.
  8. Jump up^ John PolkinghorneandNicholas Beale(2009) Questions of Truth . Westminster John Knox: 106-111.
  9. Jump up^ http://arxiv.org/abs/1010.5788
  10. Jump up^ Smolin L. and Roberto Mangabeira Unger R., (2014),The Singular Universe and the Reality of Time: A Proposal in Natural Philosophy, Cambridge University Press,ISBN 978-1107074064
  11. Jump up^ Smolin L.,arXiv: 1310.8539
  12. Jump up^ Joseph Polchinski(2007) “All Strung Out?” A review ofThe Trouble With PhysicsandNot Even Wrong,American Scientist95 (1): 1.
  13. Jump up^ Woit, Peter (2006). Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory & the Continuing Challenge to Unify the Laws of Physics . Jonathan Cape. ISBN  0-224-07605-1 .
  14. Jump up^ Smolin, Lee. The Trouble With Physics,Houghton Mifflin Co., New York, 2006 (p. 256)
  15. Jump up^ Smolin’s response to the question “What do you believe is true even though you can not save it prove?” “World Question Center 2005: Lee Smolin ‘ Edge
  16. Jump up^ Huberman, Jack (2006). The Quotable Atheist . Nation Books. p. 282.
  17. Jump up^ Scientific alternatives to the anthropic principle, July 2004
  18. Jump up^ “Top 100 Public Intellectuals: The Final Rankings” Foreign Policy Magazine (June 27, 2008)
  19. Jump up^ Brockman, John. “Introduction” to Kauffman, Stuart and Smolin, Lee. “A Possible Solution For The Problem of Time in Quantum Cosmology”on Edge (April 7, 1997)
  20. Jump up^ Announcement: First Prize for Dr. Marina Cortes, Dr. Lee SmolinThe Universe as a Process of Unique Events, Phys. Rev. D90, 084007 (2014)[1]
  21. Jump up^ “Terragon Theatre Profile” . Terragon Theatre. 2015 . Retrieved 2015-08-17 .