What is constructor theory?

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Physics is a hugely successful branch of science, but there are some things it has trouble getting a handle on. It is a bit hazy on some of the things we learn about in the physics classroom, such as temperature, heat and work. It has trouble linking up with the science that describes life, and it can't define one of the most important features of life, namely information. When it comes to things like consciousness and the ability of conscious beings to make free choices, the fundamental laws of physics don't offer any clues at all.

This is why physicists from the University of Oxford have developed a new framework for looking at the physical world, called constructor theory. In these articles we explore the theory and look at some of the problems it may be able to help with.

Understanding information — Information is supremely powerful, yet it can't be described by traditional physics. Here is how constructor may be able to help.

Life, choice and other problems — This article explores some of the questions physics as we know it has trouble getting to grips with.

Life, choice, other problems...and some answers — This article explores how constructor theory may be able to provide answers to the questions posed above.

What is constructor theory: The podcast — Here is Chiara Marletto describing constructor theory in her own words.

Background reading

Freedom and physics — This article takes a closer look at the relationship between the concept and free will and the fundamental laws of physics.

Maths in a minute: Cellular automata — This article describes the fascinating objects that are cellular automata in just a few paragraphs.

Cellular automata — This article explores cellular automata and the fascinating patterns they can form in more detail.

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The following article, originally published on the FQXi community website, also explores constructor theory and its potential applications.

Constructing a theory of life — An all-encompassing framework of physics could help to explain the evolution of consciousness, intelligence, and free will.