UCI News

Late theorist's notes may help resolve physics issue

The dusty boxes that line the walls of Jeff Barrett's UC Irvine office mark a high point in his academic…

November 25, 2009

The dusty boxes that line the walls of Jeff Barrett’s UC Irvine office mark a high point in his academic career. Their contents: pages and pages of notes, most more than 50 years old, penned by late quantum theorist Hugh Everett III. With $160,000 from the National Science Foundation, Barrett (pictured) and colleagues are combing through, scanning and preserving documents they hope will shed light on one of physics’ most debated puzzles, which Everett believed he had solved as a graduate student. “Everett liked to debunk commonly held beliefs,” says Barrett, logic & philosophy of science professor and author of “The Quantum Mechanics of Minds and Worlds,” a book about Everett’s work. “He often was the first to say, ‘It can’t work like that,’ and then he’d try to provide evidence showing he was right.