Robbert Dijkgraaf

Contributing Columnist

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There Are No Laws of Physics. There’s Only the Landscape.

Scientists seek a single description of reality. But modern physics allows for many different descriptions, many equivalent to one another, connected through a vast landscape of mathematical possibility.

Emergent reductionism flower
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To Solve the Biggest Mystery in Physics, Join Two Kinds of Law

Reductionism breaks the world into elementary building blocks. Emergence finds the simple laws that arise out of complexity. These two complementary ways of viewing the universe come together in modern theories of quantum gravity.

Illustration: diver searching for new math
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Quantum Questions Inspire New Math

In order to fully understand the quantum world, we may have to develop a new realm of mathematics.

About the author

Robbert Dijkgraaf is director and Leon Levy Professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. He is an author, with Abraham Flexner, of The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge.