4pm - 5pm

Wednesday 16 December 2020

The relational interpretation of quantum mechanics

An intuitive and compelling interpretation of quantum mechanics from one of the world’s best-known figures in theoretical physics, Carlo Rovelli.


back to all events

This event has passed

This seminar is by invitation only. A Zoom link will be sent to participants before the event.


  • Carlo Rovelli


Quantum theory can be interpreted as a theory about sparse relative events (or "facts"). From this perspective the wave function is only a mathematical tool to keep track of past events and compute the probability of future ones.  There is no need for a special role for observers or measurements.

The "price" for this reading of quantum theory is that events are sparse and relative, in the following sense. They only happen whenever two systems interact, and their happening affects only the probabilities of other events relative to these same systems. Hence the cat can be aware of being alive, and Wigner's friend can see his own measurement outcome, without compromising the possibility that the external observer sees interference effects between these happening and alternative ones.


Carlo Rovelli

Carlo Rovelli is a theoretical physicist known for his work on quantum gravity and on the foundations of physics. He was born in Italy and has worked in Italy, in the US, in France and in Canada. He currently directs the quantum gravity group of the Centre de Physique Théorique at the University of Aix-Marseille.

In the last decade, he has written several popular science books, including "Seven Brief Lessons on Physics" and "The Order of Time", that have been translated into more than 40 languages. Last year, Foreign Policy Magazine included him among the 100 most influential global thinkers.

Related information

Take a look at our Quantum Foundations Centre website to find out more about what we're researching.