Biocosmology: evolving state space and simulating the Adjacent Possible 


  • Call:

    PT-CERN Call 2021/2

  • Academic Year:


  • Domain:

    Astroparticle Physics

  • Supervisor:

    Andrew Liddle

  • Co-Supervisor:

    Marina Cortês

  • Institution:

    FCUL (Universidade de Lisboa)

  • Host Institution:

    IA - Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço

  • Abstract:

    Project supervisors Marina Cortês and Andrew Liddle are founding a new scientific discipline that we call Biocosmology. In an ongoing collaboration with Stuart Kauffman (Seattle) and Lee Smolin (Perimeter Institute, Canada), we are proposing a new way of viewing physical laws, particularly emergent phenomena, that can permit incorporation of biological systems into cosmological models. It is the first bridge connecting cosmology and biology, scientific areas which were previously disconnected though lack of a common mathematical framework and tools. Biocosmology allows us to see life through the lens of black holes, dark energy, and dark matter. It is the first quantification, ever, of the value of our planet before the vastness of the cosmos. We will be submitting three papers to initiate this topic at the start of 2022 [1,2,3]. These papers open numerous avenues for further development, and tie in with renewed interest in emergent phenomena across a range of sciences. This includes challenges to the longstanding reliance on reductionist approaches. One of the main principles in our initial work is to allow for the possible evolution of the physical state space of the Universe, as it and its contained biospheres develop. This PhD project has the goal of investigating the consequences of such evolution both from a mathematical point of view through simulations, and from a physical point of view by connecting to ideas of information and entropy, particularly in connection with cosmic horizons. In parallel the student will develop models of fundamental time irreversibility using Cortês and Smolin’s Energetic Causal Set (ECS) framework [4], to create an emergent space-time model that may connect to and underpin these ideas; this particular collaboration is already underway.