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Exploring particular issue themes, articles will be created by contributors via invitation, commission and open submission from subscribers.

‘QBism’: quantum mechanics is not a description of objective reality – it reveals a world of genuine free will

Ruediger Schack is a Professor at the Department of Mathematics at Royal Holloway, University of London. He obtained his Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics at the University of Munich in 1991 and held postdoctoral positions at the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, the University of Southern California, the University of New Mexico, and Queen Mary and Westfield College before joining Royal Holloway in 1995. His research interests are quantum information theory, quantum cryptography and quantum Bayesianism.

Cosmological models are built on a simple, century-old idea – but new observations demand a radical rethink

David L Wiltshire is a Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand. His research interests are in general relativity, cosmology and quantum gravity.
He began his career working on higher-dimensional gravity, brane worlds and black holes as a PhD student in the Cambridge relativity group in the mid 1980s. He has subsequently explored a large range of ideas on topics including quantum cosmology, gravastars and dark energy. Since the mid 2000s his research has focused on the averaging problem and backreaction in inhomogeneous cosmology. By revisiting the foundational principles of general relativity, he has developed the “timescape cosmology”, a phenomenological viable alternative to the standard cosmology, without dark energy.

David is on the editorial board of Classical and Quantum Gravity, an IUPAP representative on the committee of the International Society on General Relativity and Gravitation (ISGRG), President of the New Zealand Institute of Physics, and a member of the Foundational Questions Institute (FQXi). He is also a past President of the Australasian Society for General Relativity and Gravitation.

Eoin O Colgain is Assistant Lecturer in Physical Sciences, Atlantic Technological University.

How our unconscious visual biases change the way we perceive objects

Beverley Pickard-Jones is a Lecturer in Psychology at Bangor University.
“My primary research revolves around the exploration of priors in visual perception across different age groups. By employing visual illusions as investigative tools, I seek to contribute to a deeper understanding the intricate workings of perception and cognition. I also research pedagogy in higher education and am particularly interested in how to harness the power of technology to augment learning.”

Good things come in threes

Florian Coulmas is Professor of Japanese Society and Sociolinguistics at the IN-EAST Institute of East Asian Studies at Duisburg-Essen University. He has published numerous books, including ‘An Introduction to Multilingualism’ (OUP, 2017) and ‘Writing and Society: A Introduction’ (Cambridge University Press, 2013). In 2016, he was awarded the Meyer-Struckmann-Prize for Research in Arts and Social Sciences. For the past three decades he has served as Associate Editor of the ‘International Journal of the Sociology of Languages’, during which time he has observed the steadily increasing use of the concept of identity in both general and scholarly publications. His book, ‘Identity: A Very Short Introduction’, was published in February 2019.

How to test if we’re living in a computer simulation

Dr Melvin M. Vopson is an Associate Professor of Physics at the University of Portsmouth. His previous appointments include two postdoctoral fellowships at the University of York, senior R&D scientist at Seagate Technology (a world leading high-tech company) and over six years as Higher Research Scientist at the National Physical Laboratory.
Melvin’s major scientific contributions are in the fields of solid state caloric effects, thin film growth technologies, multiferroic materials and their applications, optical techniques of characterisation of solids, development of novel metrologies and innovations based on ferroic materials, theoretical studies of non-equilibrium phenomena, fundamental physics, and information physics.
Melvin developed new optical techniques for the characterization of solids, novel metrologies for multiferroic materials, a non-equilibrium theory of polarization reversal in ferroelectrics, and novel technologies for digital memories, including the discovery of a 4-state anti-ferroelectric memory effect, the discovery of the multicaloric effect in multiferroic materials, the discovery of the mass-energy-information equivalence principle, or the 5th state of matter, and the discovery of the second law of infodynamics.

Quantum physics: our study suggests objective reality doesn’t exist

Alessandro Fedrizzi is Professor of Physics, Heriot-Watt University.
“My research focuses on the development of photonic quantum technology and its application to experimental quantum information processing—from foundational research to quantum communication, computation and metrology. Quantum technology is now on the brink of delivering devices that can surpass the capabilities of their classical counterparts. Photonics plays a key role in this quantum revolution, providing a scalable quantum processing platform in its own right, but also due to its unique ability to coherently connect other physical architectures. My goal is to drive all facets of this development, from improving primary photonic capabilities to creating scalable hybrid quantum systems.”

Dr Massimiliano Proietti received his Ph.D. in physics under the supervision of Prof. Alessandro Fedrizzi at the Heriot-Watt University in 2020. His technical expertise covers technologies including ultra-bright single-photon sources at telecom wavelength, single-photon detectors, polarisation-entanglement sources, multipartite entanglement and the design of photonic graph states for quantum networking and computation. He worked on topics such as quantum metrology and sensing, multi-party quantum key distribution and quantum foundations, leading to a number of high-impact publications in these areas.

What are the best conditions for life? Exploring the multiverse can help us find out

Geraint Lewis is Professor of Astrophysics, University of Sydney. He undertakes a broad spectrum of research. On the largest scales, his program involves looking at the influence of dark energy and dark matter on the evolution and ultimate fate of the Universe.
Another aspect of his research uses the phenomenon of gravitational lensing to probe the nature and distribution of the pervasive dark matter, and employing individual stars to magnify the hearts of quasars, the most luminous objects in the Universe.
Closer to home, Geraint’s research focuses upon Galactic cannibalism, where small dwarf galaxies are torn apart by the much more massive Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxy. Using telescopes from around the world, including the 10-m Keck telescope in Hawaii, he has mapped the tell-tale signs of tidal disruption and destruction, providing important clues to how large galaxies have grown over time.

How we created the first map of an insect brain – and what it means for our understanding of the human brain

Michael Wilding is a Group Leader at the Francis Crick Institute in London, UK.
“I generated and analysed the first synaptic wiring diagram, or connectome, of an entire insect brain. Using this brain map and linked experimental tools, my group aims to understand how brain-wide computations generate social behaviours and how these computations go awry after social isolation or in disease.”

How could the Big Bang arise from nothing?

Alastair Wilson is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Birmingham, working on metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of science and philosophy of physics. His doctoral thesis was on the metaphysics of Everettian (many-worlds) quantum mechanics, and this line of thought culminated in his book The Nature of Contingency: Quantum Physics as Modal Realism (OUP, 2020). More recently he has worked on explanation and dependence in physics and metaphysics as part of his ERC-funded project FraMEPhys, on metaphysical explanation in physics. He has also worked on laws of nature, chance, properties, causation, counterfactuals, and the epistemology of disagreement and of self-locating beliefs. He was President of the Society for the Metaphysics of Science in 2017-18 and Honorary Secretary of the British Society for the Philosophy of Science in 2018-19. He remains on the SMS and BSPS committees, and is also a member of the climate task force of the Philosophy of Science Association and a Trustee of the Philosophy of Physics Association. He is PhilPapers editor for the categories ‘Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics’ and ‘Theories of Modality’, and a Managing Editor of the open-access journal Ergo.

Are near-death experiences hallucinations? Experts explain the science behind this puzzling phenomenon

Neil Dagnall is a Reader in Applied Cognitive Psychology, Manchester Metropolitan University.
“I am a cognitive and parapsychological researcher (Anomalous Psychology, Cognitive Psychology & Experimental Methods). I work closely with Andrew Parker, Kenneth Drinkwater, and Andrew Denovan. We are undertaking several projects centering on memory (eye movements), belief in the paranormal, mental toughness and anomalous throught processes.”

Ken Drinkwater is a Senior Lecturer and Researcher in Cognitive and Parapsychology, Manchester Metropolitan University.
“I completed my undergraduate BSc (2001 – Main study: Memory and Part set cuing effects) and a postgraduate MSc (2007 – 2 Main studies: 1. I.Q. Assessment of adults with learning disabilities, and the usefulness of the Ravens Progressive Matrices as a predictor of ability and 2. Focus groups (with Adults who have Learning Disabilities) in developing an accessible leaflet for clinical psychology at Oldham NHS penning care and at Manchester Metropolitan University.”