Marina Cortês

Cosmology

I am a cosmologist at the Institute for Astrophysics and Space Sciences at the University of Lisbon.


Marina in 2023, Image credit: Kat Pascoal Lopes Photography

Marina Cortês is an astrophysicist who challenges conventional notions as to the nature of time. She is particularly concerned with the issue of how the direction (arrow) of time, so obvious to us in our lives, can emerge from physical laws in which time can be reversed without consequence. Her research work has already won the inaugural Buchalter Cosmology Prize awarded in the USA.

Cortês has more than 15 years experience in cosmology. She worked in three continents, including Berkeley National Lab, and UC Berkeley, the Perimeter Institute in Canada, and the Royal Observatory of Edinburgh in the UK. She is now research faculty at the Institute for Astrophysics and Space Sciences in Lisbon, Portugal. She has worked both in large observational collaborations such as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and from a purely theoretical perspective.

Her work has influenced our understanding of the Universe’s youngest stages, the mystery of its present acceleration, and especially the fundamental nature of time itself. Her 2013 Phys. Rev. Letters article `Anomalies in an Open Universe’ was selected as Special Highlight by the American Physical Society, an honour given only to less than 1% of all publications in this already exclusive journal. In 2015 her article `The Universe as Unique Events’ was awarded the USD 10,000 Inaugural Buchalter Cosmology Prize, jointly with Lee Smolin.



Biocosmology

Marina Cortês is currently founding a new scientific field, Biocosmology. It is the first bridge connecting cosmology and biology, scientific areas which were previously disconnected though lack of a common mathematical framework and tools, between the two up till now.

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.

Biocosmology creates the extension of the multiple-award-winning research programme on the irreversibility of time, founded by her and Lee Smolin – see here. Together they have been challenging the understanding of time in physics since 2012.

First introduced at the Google SciFoo meetings in May 2021, 6 mins introduction to biocosmology here:

SciFOO Lightning talks – Google, Nature, Digital Science, O’Reilly – 6 mins video introduction

Now, together with:

she is extending her previous program of “Foundational Time Irreversibility’’ to approach quantum biology and the brain.


The scientific press release took place on April 21st, 2022. The three accompanying scientific papers are in our webpage: Biocosmology

  1. Biocosmology: Towards the birth of a new science
    Authors: Marina CortêsStuart A. KauffmanAndrew R. LiddleLee Smolin
    arXiv:2204.09378  [pdf]  
    Abstract: Cosmologists wish to explain how our Universe, in all its complexity, could ever have come about. For that, we assess the number of states in our Universe now. This plays the role of entropy in thermodynamics of the Universe, and reveals the magnitude of the problem of initial conditions to be solved. The usual budgeting accounts for gravity, thermal motions, and finally the vacuum energy whose en…
  2. Biocosmology: Biology from a cosmological perspective
    Authors: Marina CortêsStuart A. KauffmanAndrew R. LiddleLee Smolin
    arXiv:2204.09379  [pdf]  
    Abstract: The Universe contains everything that exists, including life. And all that exists, including life, obeys universal physical laws. Do those laws then give adequate foundations for a complete explanation of biological phenomena? We discuss whether and how cosmology and physics must be modified to be able to address certain questions which arise at their intersection with biology. We show that a univ…
  3. The TAP equation: evaluating combinatorial innovation in Biocosmology
    Authors: Marina CortêsStuart A. KauffmanAndrew R. LiddleLee Smolin
    arXiv:2204.14115  [pdf
    Abstract: We investigate solutions to the TAP equation, a phenomenological implementation of the Theory of the Adjacent Possible. Several implementations of TAP are studied, with potential applications in a range of topics including economics, social sciences, environmental change, evolutionary biological systems, and the nature of physical laws. The generic behaviour is an extended plateau followed by a sh…

Press:
Together with the scientific articles a non-technical news piece was published in coordination with the Institute of Arts and Ideas, together with Ed McGovern.

Press release article for the Institute of Ideas (IAI) written in collaboration with Ed McGovern, Head of programming at IAI.

Shape of History

She is also premiering in the Hollywood production The Shape of History

Executive Producer: George A. Colburn, Filmmaker: Dean Love

Trailer

This trilogy of groundbreaking documentary programs will take us on a journey through cosmic history to explore our evolving understanding of our universe – and humankind’s place within it.

“Humans are of nature not above nature’’

Shape of History is a radical paradigm shift for the replacing of the human species to its natural place as only one of the many elements in the fantastic circle of life.

Organization:

Stuart Kauffman
MacArthur Prize, Author, Royal Society of Canada Fellow

George Colburn
Executive Producer

Chris Shaws
Filmmaker, Producer

Dean Love
Producer

Paul Marcus
Advancement


Past Career

Marina Cortês has more than 15 years experience in cosmology. She worked in three continents, including National Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley, the Perimeter Institute in Canada, and the Royal Observatory of Edinburgh in the UK, before taking up her current position at the Institute for Astrophysics and Space Sciences in Lisbon, Portugal. She has worked both in large observational collaborations such as the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and from a purely theoretical perspective.

Her work has influenced our understanding of the Universe’s youngest stages, the mystery of its present acceleration, and especially the fundamental nature of time itself. Her 2013 Phys. Rev. Letters article `Anomalies in an Open Universe’ was selected as Special Highlight by the American Physical Society, an honour given only to less than 1% of all publications in this already exclusive journal. In 2015 her article `The Universe as Unique Events’ was awarded the USD 10,000 Inaugural Buchalter Cosmology Prize, jointly with Lee Smolin.


Seminars at Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, CANADA

Marina Cortês at Perimeter Institute


Time in Cosmology

Unconference at Perimeter Institute, 2016

A global meeting that brought the world’s top experts on the millenia old puzzle of “Time’’. The event took place at Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (Canada).

The uniqueness of this event was described in this Quanta Magazine article by Dan Falk The invitation-only meeting brought together leading intellectuals from all continents on theoretical physics, cosmology, biologists, philosophers, musicians and even visual artists. The conference featured a live interactive performance involving 100 metronomes, `Time is the Essence’.

Organisers:

-Marina Cortês (Institute for Astrophysics and Space Sciences, Portugal)
-Roberto Mangabeira Unger (Harvard Law)
-Lee Smolin (Perimeter Institute)

Welcome and Opening Remarks by Cortês, M., Smolin, L. & Turok, N. (2016).

Abstract, Participants and Seminars here


Inaugural Buchalter Cosmology Prize: first place – 2014

Marina Cortês and Lee Smolin, worth US$10,000

Anúncio Prémio Publico 6 Janeiro de 2015 ( Portuguese Press)


Article on Open Inflation selected for special highlight
by Phys Rev Letters

Viewpoint on her work:

Is the Lopsided Universe an Open Universe? by Marc Kamionkowski (Johns Hopkins University, USA)

Press about Cosmology


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