Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (MCMP)

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Foundational Problems of Black Holes and Gravitational Radiation (20 - 21 October 2018)


Idea and Motivation

The attempt to understand black holes, gravitational radiation, and the relations between them occupies a central role in the foundations of physics. The physics of black holes points to profound connections among general relativity, quantum field theory, and thermodynamics, with potentially revolutionary consequences for our understanding of the nature of spacetime itself. Gravitational radiation is a deep and fascinating astrophysical phenomenon, and one which raises profound questions for the metaphysics and epistemology of spacetime. The two topics go naturally together, both because of the stunning recent successes in gravitational-wave detection, which confirmed the existence of coalescing black hole systems, and because gravitational radiation is expected to generically accompany all non-trivial black hole phenomena. There are numerous philosophical questions raised by black holes and gravitational radiation, which have only recently started to attract the attention of philosophers.

By bringing together top researchers from the diverse fields of physics, philosophy, history, and sociology, we seek to create an atmosphere in which major advances in understanding can be made by the cross-pollination that discussion across traditional disciplinary boundaries can create. We aim to engender collaboration and interaction among philosophers and scientists so that insights from different disciplines may be shared and inspire workers in all relevant fields to find new approaches to both discipline-specific and interdisciplinary problems.


Day 1 (20 October 2018)

09:30 - 10:00 Registration & Coffee
10:00 - 11:15 Dieter Lüst: "Quantum Aspects of Black Holes"
11:15 - 11:30 Coffee Break
11:30 - 12:45 Peter Galison: "Portrait of a Black Hole"
12:45 - 14:15 Lunch Break
14:15 - 15:30 Eva Hackmann: "The Concept of Time in Strong Gravitational Fields"
15:30 - 16:45 Christian Wüthrich: "Black Holes and Membranes"
16:45 - 17:15 Coffee Break
17:15 - 18:30 Harry Collins: "How Gravitational Waves Affect a Sociologist"
19:30 - 22:00 Conference Dinner

Day 2 (21 October 2018)

09:30 - 10:00 Registration & Coffee
10:00 - 11:15 Beatrice Bonga: "Surprising Consequences of a Positive Cosmological Constant"
11:15 - 11:30 Coffee Break
11:30 - 12:45 Carina Prunkl: "The Role of Information in Black Hole Thermodynamics"
12:45 - 14:15 Lunch Break
14:15 - 15:30 Daniel Holz: "LIGO's Black Holes"
15:30 - 16:45 Francesca Vidotto: "White Is the New Black"
16:45 - 17:15 Coffee Break
17:15 - 18:30 Radin Dardashti: "Testing Black Holes from Afar"


The conference is organized by the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (LMU Munich). The MCMP is very grateful to the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for financial support. In addition the conference is partly funded by Dr. Erik Curiels DFG Research Grant "Gravitation, Quantum Theory, and Thermodynamics: The Crossroads of Physics and Philosophy".

Photo Credits

Header background: By NASA/JPL-Caltech [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons, "Black Holes - Monsters in Space". Public domain (desaturated from original). Source: Wikimedia Commons.