Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 10-24-2014


Physics is traditionally conceived of as a set of laws that universally governs the behavior of physical systems. These laws, however they are decreed, are believed to govern the behavior of not only everything in the universe, but the form of the universe itself. However, this traditional concept of physics as a universal governance is at odds with our modern theories of quantum mechanics and relativity, which place the observer and information in a central role. In this talk, I aim to rethink the foundations and attempt to build physics from the bottom up based on a very simple foundational idea that all one can possibly know is that things influence one another. I will demonstrate that a great deal of physics can be derived in this context from symmetries alone. For example, one can show that there is a unique consistent quantified description of a network of influence events, which is given by the mathematics of relativistic space-time and results in forces. In addition, making inferences about influence events leads to the relativistic quantum mechanics of fermions. As a result, many ‘fundamental’ concepts in physics and their relationships to one another can be derived from a more fundamental picture based on influence.


Presented to the Physics Department at Kenyon College on 24 Oct 2014.