Foundations of Physics

, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 371–379

Consistent Histories in Quantum Cosmology


DOI: 10.1007/s10701-010-9422-6

Cite this article as:
Craig, D. & Singh, P. Found Phys (2011) 41: 371. doi:10.1007/s10701-010-9422-6


We illustrate the crucial role played by decoherence (consistency of quantum histories) in extracting consistent quantum probabilities for alternative histories in quantum cosmology. Specifically, within a Wheeler-DeWitt quantization of a flat Friedmann-Robertson-Walker cosmological model sourced with a free massless scalar field, we calculate the probability that the universe is singular in the sense that it assumes zero volume. Classical solutions of this model are a disjoint set of expanding and contracting singular branches. A naive assessment of the behavior of quantum states which are superpositions of expanding and contracting universes suggests that a “quantum bounce” is possible i.e. that the wave function of the universe may remain peaked on a non-singular classical solution throughout its history. However, a more careful consistent histories analysis shows that for arbitrary states in the physical Hilbert space the probability of this Wheeler-DeWitt quantum universe encountering the big bang/crunch singularity is equal to unity. A quantum Wheeler-DeWitt universe is inevitably singular, and a “quantum bounce” is thus not possible in these models.


Quantum cosmologyMinisuperspaceDecoherenceConsistent histories

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhysicsLe Moyne CollegeSyracuseUSA
  2. 2.Perimeter Institute for Theoretical PhysicsWaterlooCanada