Stimulus Funds Go to the Important Work of the Berkeley Center for Theoretical Physics (BCTP)
We are very pleased that the National Science Foundation (NSF) has seen fit to award several members of the Berkeley Center for Theoretical Physics $1.5 million dollars over the next three years for their important and ongoing work in fundamental theoretical physics.
A reflection of the collaborative mission of the BCTP, this project fosters fundamental theoretical research by synthesizing previously disconnected areas of general relativity and cosmology, quantum gravity, quantum field theory, string theory, condensed matter physics and even pure mathematics. Answers to questions such as “What is the Universe made of? What are matter, energy, space and time?” are closer than ever, now that research fields are overlapping and filling in the blanks left by one another.
Led by Professor Petr Horava, the Principal Investigators have constructed a research project that is uniquely positioned to take advantage of their diverse expertise, tied together by the overlap in interests and focus on the same fundamental questions. Mina Aganagic is one of the leading experts in topological string theory. Her work will focus on applications of topological string methods and string dualities to novel mechanisms of supersymmetry breaking and in string phenomenology. She will further pursue the study of black hole entropy from the perspective of topological strings. Raphael Bousso has done seminal work on holography and geometric entropy bounds, co-discovered the landscape of string-theory vacua, and proposed a solution to the cosmological constant problem. Petr Horava participated in a number of turning-point discoveries in string theory, such as orientifolds, D-branes and M-theory. He will apply methods of non-equilibrium field theory to quantum gravity and string theory, study quantum gravity with anistropic scaling, and further develop the interface with condensed matter physics. Yasunori Nomura has contributed significantly to our understanding of physics beyond the standard model; he pioneered grand unification in higher dimensions and proposed novel TeV scale theories. He will work on theoretical particle physics and cosmology relevant to experiments coming in the next decades, particularly at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland.
The impact of this research extends beyond the greater understanding of our Universe to include practical and vital matters such as the training of graduate students and postdocs--our next generation of scientists. The PIs and their students will continue to bring their findings to the general public and to high school students. They will work to enhance the award-winning Particle Adventure website (http://www.particleadventure.org/) beyond the standard model and string theory, and they will continue to bring current scientific research to under-privileged areas of the world via lectures series and educational activities.
The NSF grant that gives funding to these top-notch researchers belies not only the importance of their work but also the remarkable framework provided by the Berkeley Center for Theoretical Physics which demonstrates that science is a collaborative endeavor.