Dr Peter Riggs

Dr Peter Riggs
Visiting Fellow
Department of Quantum Science


Peter J. Riggs is a leading Australian researcher on the foundations of physics, the nature of time, and methodology of science. He also is an enthusiastic science communicator whose public lectures on physics and its implications have proved extremely popular.

Research interests

  • The nature of time and space
  • Foundations of quantum physics
  • Fundamentals of energy and energy processes
  • Special Relativity
  • Methodology and philosophy of science


Quantum Causality: Conceptual Issues in the Causal Theory of Quantum Mechanics.  Dordrecht: Springer, 2009.

Natural Kinds, Laws of Nature and Scientific Methodology (edited collection). Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic, 1996.

Whys and Ways of Science: Introducing Philosophical and Sociological Theories of Science.  Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1992.

Recent publications

'Interstellar Journeys in Human Lifetimes: Numerical Computations', Physics Education 52 (May 2017): 033001.

'A Comparison of Kinetic Energy and Momentum in Special Relativity and Classical Mechanics', The Physics Teacher 54 (February 2016): 559-561.               ** Listed in: The Best of The Physics Teacher 2015-2016 **    <https://www.aapt.org/Resources/Best-of-TPT-2015-2016.cfm>.

'Contemporary Concepts of Time in Western Science and Philosophy' in McGrath, A. and Jebb, M.-A. (eds), Long History, Deep Time (ANU Press, Canberra, 2015).  Available here.

'A Proposed Experimental Test of Quantum Theory using the Techniques of Atom Optics', arXiv:1411.0464 [quant-ph] (2014).  Available at:  <http://arxiv.org/abs/1411.0464>

'Why a Spaceship Cannot Reach the Speed of Light from the Perspective of the Spaceship's Rest Frame',  Latin-American Journal of Physics Education 7 (4) (Dec. 2013): 604-608.  Available at:  <http://www.lajpe.org/dec13/13-LAJPE_846_Peter_Riggs.pdf>

'Momentum Probabilities for a Single Quantum Particle in Three-Dimensional Regular ‘Infinite’ Wells: One Way of Promoting Understanding of Probability Densities',  European Journal of Physics Education 4 (4) (Oct. 2013): 1-13.  Available at: <http://www.eu-journal.org/index.php/EJPE/article/view/98>.

'What Do We Feel When We ‘Feel’ Time ‘Passing’?',  Journal of Consciousness Exploration & Research 3 (9) (Oct. 2012): 1064-1073.

'Motion with Non-Constant Gravitational Acceleration',  Latin-American Journal of Physics Education 5 (3) (Sept. 2011): 544-547.  Available at:  <http://www.lajpe.org/sep11/LAJPE_566_Peter_Riggs_preprint_corr_f.pdf>

'Colliding Ice Comets and the Reality of Energy',  Physics Essays 23 (4) (Dec. 2010): 621-624.

'Energy Content of Quantum Systems and the Alleged Collapse of the Wavefunction',  arXiv:0910.2834v1 [quant-ph] (2009).  Available at:  <http://arxiv.org/abs/0910.2834>

'Reflections on the deBroglie-Bohm Quantum Potential',  Erkenntnis 68 (1) (Jan. 2008): 21-39.

'Nowness and Loss of Meaning in Tensed Propositions',  KronoScope: Journal for the Study of Time 7 (1) (2007): 79-83. 


ANU Public Lectures - Topics in Physics & Natural Philosophy

The ANU Public Lectures series offers a forum in which ideas, theories and recent developments in physics and their philosophical implications are communicated to a general audience. These lectures on Physics and Natural Philosophy do not assume any prior knowledge and are specifically designed and presented for the public.

Next Scheduled Public Lecture:

  • TBA 2018.  



Attendance is free but bookings are essential at: TBA


Previous Public Lectures:

  • February 2018.  Why Does the Cosmos Exist?

Why is there anything at all? This is the riddle of existence. Its answer has traditionally been sought through religion and myth. In this lecture, modern physics will be considered in order to see if it might enlighten us about why anything exists or whether the answer to the riddle of existence can only be found from metaphysics or religion.

  • September 2017.  How Old is the Sphinx? What the Evidence Reveals.

Recent physical evidence points to the Great Sphinx at the Giza Plateau being much older than what academic egyptologists would have us believe. This lecture considered the existing physical evidence and the theories that have been proposed to explain this evidence.

  • April 2017.  Time Travel: What's the Current Status?

The laws of physics do not rule out time travel — indeed, several physical mechanisms for travel to the past have been proposed over the last few decades. This lecture reviewed the proposed methods of time travel to see whether they remain viable, and what some consequences of time travel might be.

  • February 2017.  Does Science Support the Claims of Religion?

Public statements are regularly being made that science shows religious claims are true. This lecture considered the issue of whether recent contentions concerning scientific support for religious claims are well-founded or not.

  • September 2016. Let the Quantum Be !  or
                                 How we learnt to accept uncertainty and love weirdness.

What is the 'quantum'? Is nature fundamentally uncertain? Can a cat in a box be both alive and dead at the same time? Is an electron in two places at once? What is 'spooky' action-at-a-distance? This lecture considered what quantum science tells us about the world and some of its more weird implications.

  • March 2016. The Future of Physical Science

An expert panel drawn from three different areas within the ANU College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences took on the task of trying to navigate the issues of the exponential growth of physical science and where it might take us over the next hundred years.

  • October 2015. Why Are We Constrained to Live in the Present Moment?

Time holds us captive in the Present Moment. Although the Present seems to forever 'move forward', we always remain trapped in it. What is the Present? What factors affect the way we perceive the Present and time in general? Would it be possible to escape the Present? This talk covered relevant aspects of our experience of the Present and explore whether science can explain why we are prisoners of time.

  • May 2015. What is Reality: Physics or Metaphysics?

The nature of reality has confounded thinkers for millennia.  Concepts of physical reality were considered in this lecture in order to surmise if twenty-first century science will be able to enlighten us about the nature of reality.

  • May 2014. The Big Bang: Was It the Origin of Everything?

The cosmological Big Bang Theory is our current best physical explanation of the evolution of the universe.  Recently, a significant number of cosmologists have voiced serious concerns about the theory and the Big Bang itself.  This lecture examined the nature of the Big Bang and what alternative ideas are on offer.

  • August 2013. Time Travel: Its Implications for Physics and Philosophy

The idea of time travel is familiar from science fiction. However, there is a serious side to the issue of time travel for the laws of physics do not rule it out.  Implications for both physical science and our view of reality were explored in this talk.

  • October 2012.  The Nature of Time

We exist in a temporal universe. On a day-to-day basis, time is a concept familiar to us for it affects all aspects of everybody’s life. Despite this, and the fact that the laws of physics incorporate time as an essential feature, time itself remains a mystery. The significance of gaining an understanding about time goes to the core of human existence, perception, and our desire to understand ourselves and the universe that we inhabit. This lecture covered characteristics of time as revealed by science and modern viewpoints on the nature of time.


ANU Vice-Chancellor’s College Visiting Artist Fellows Scheme 2017

Art and Time

The Vice-Chancellor’s Visiting Artist Fellows Scheme is a five year endeavour that aims to promote collaborative research between disciplines in the ANU.  In 2017, Dr Ella Whateley from the ANU School of Art and Design will work with Dr Riggs to explore how abstract painting might contribute to an enquiry into the perception of time.

When dialing an ANU extension from outside the university:
  • (02) 612 XXXXX (within Australia)
  • +61 2 612 XXXXX (outside Australia)
Where XXXXX is the 5 digit extension number you are after.
Anti-Spam notice: The email addresses from this directory are made available to support the academic and business activities of ANU. These email addresses are not published as an invitation to receive unsolicited commercial messages or 'spam' and we do not consent to receipt of such materials. Any messages that are received which contravenes this policy is strictly prohibited, and is also a breach of the Spam Act 2003. The University reserves the right to recover all costs incurred in the event of breach of this policy.

Updated:  17 August 2017/ Responsible Officer:  Director, RSPE/ Page Contact:  Physics Webmaster