Roundtable Discussion Questions

  1. How will physics address its gender imbalance and gender discrimination problems?
  2. Suppose that quantum mechanics (or QFT), like Newtonian physics and other past theories, turns out to have a limited domain of applicability, beyond which it is replaced by a deeper theory. What is your best guess as to what physical parameter will delimit the boundary between quantum mechanics and its successor? Is it a length scale, an energy or energy density, a number of degrees of freedom, or something else?
  3. Could dark matter and dark energy be a misunderstood observational/observer effect? Or a symptom of modified gravity?
  4. Is quantum information really the future? Will we ever get a working quantum computer?
  5. In view of the fact that the standard model has remained unchanged for twenty five years, what directions should we be looking in (in terms of experiment and new ideas) in order to go beyond it?
  6. What are the lessons of quantum foundations for quantum gravity?
  7. What might replace the cosmic singularity in a correct physical picture of the big bang? Will it be the emergence of time? Or a bounce? Or a conformal match?
  8. What plausible empirical discovery could be made in the next 10 years that you would find most profound/world-view changing?
  9. To what extent does the existence of topological order in condensed matter systems favor/disfavor different interpretations of quantum mechanics? For example, does it falsify spontaneous collapse of wave functions (such as in GRW theory)?
  10. If SUSY fails to show up at the LHC, will it be reasonable to continue to use it as a basis for particle phenomenology? Might it be necessary to completely re-formulate SUSY as a fundamental principle in nature?
  11. Has theoretical physics moved too far away from experiments? Is the field entering a crisis and, if so, what should we do about it?
  12. After almost 20 years of AdS-CFT, what have we learned?
  13. Is avoiding fine-tuning a useful criterion for looking for new physics?
  14. What is the cosmological constant problem trying to tell us? Is it, as Weinberg suggested, analogous to the ultraviolet catastrophe which led to the development of quantum theory, or is it merely a fine-tuning problem?
  15. What possible developments, theoretical or experimental, would convince you of the correctness or otherwise of each of the current approaches to quantum gravity?
  16. What are the most important anomalies across all fields that do not fit within our standard physical model?
  17. Some physicists are trying to create “artificial life” from non-living materials. What criteria would artificial “lifeforms” have to satisfy in order for you to consider them to be “life”? And do you think this goal can be reached?
  18. Is today's physics driving the math, or is today's math driving the physics? Explain.
  19. How can cosmology help create or shape a theory of quantum gravity?
  20. What are the strategies to overcome the strong coupling problems that are prevalent in physics?
  21. How do we confront unsatisfying theories that work too well, for example, GR, QM, the SM, and LCDM?
  22. Is current research in theoretical physics sufficiently diverse or should there be more variety?