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“Once you have eliminated the impossible,” the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes famously opined, “whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” That adage forms the foundational principle of “constructor theory”—a candidate “theory of everything” first sketched out by David Deutsch, a quantum physicist at the University of Oxford, in 2012. His aim was to find a framework that could encompass all physical theories by determining a set of overarching “meta-laws” that describe what can happen in the universe and what is forbidden. In a May 23 paper posted to the physics preprint server, arXiv, constructor theory claims its first success toward that goal by unifying the two separate theories that are currently used to describe information processing in macroscopic, classical systems as well as in subatomic, quantum objects.

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