The nature of reality has confounded thinkers for millennia. Notions about reality have tended to reside with speculative philosophy and in science fiction. Today there are more questions about existence than ever before, including questions that science is addressing, such as: Is space real? Is time an illusion? Do we live in one of a multitude of parallel universes? Are we disembodied ‘brains in vats’ or sentient software programs running on some advanced super-computer?
Concepts of physical reality will be considered in this lecture in order to surmise if twenty-first century science will be able to enlighten us about the nature of reality or whether the issue of reality must remain only in the domain of metaphysics.
Dr Peter J Riggs is a physicist and philosopher of science in the Department of Quantum Science at The Australian National University. He is a leading Australian researcher on the nature of time and the foundations of physics. Dr Riggs’s publications include the books: Quantum Causality: Conceptual Issues in the Causal Theory of Quantum Mechanics (2009) and Whys and Ways of Science (1992).