Constructing a Theory of Life

The rise of quantum mechanics, which governs the microscopic world of atoms and particles, has made the effect of humans on the physical world increasingly difficult to ignore. Under its strange laws, the act of observing a specific quantum system mysteriously affects how it behaves. This is not just a mathematical quirk, but something that’s constantly seen in experiments. But why should the presence of a human consciousness looking at a quantum system have such a profound effect on its behavior? That’s one question that Sara Imari Walker is trying to address. Walker believes it is time to take observers seriously — and that understanding information lies at the heart of the matter. (Her thoughts are outlined in her award-winning FQXi essay, “The Descent of Math.”) To develop her ideas, she needed a ‘meta theory’ that can encompass all physical theories, and in which the roles of the observer and information can be illuminated. Enter constructor theory.

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