March to the Gods

Most Intelligent City Afterall
More top physicists coming to Waterloo
Lana Sheridan – Staff Reporter

Paul Collier

marchtogods

Waterloo is well on its way to becoming the world’s top location for theoretical physics. The Perimeter Institute announced this week the addition of nine new Distinguished Research Chairs to join the first PI Distinguished Research Chair, Prof. Stephen Hawking. The individuals named to these positions represent some of the leading luminaries in astrophysics, quantum gravity, string theory, particle physics, and quantum information.

Dr. Neil Turok, the director of the Perimeter Institute and a much-acclaimed cosmologist, was quoted in the press release saying: “We are delighted to welcome these eminent scientists to Distinguished Research Chairs at PI. Their research spans many of the most exciting areas in theoretical physics. Their presence will spark new scientific collaborations and provide invaluable guidance to us, as well as inspiring the budding young researchers on our new Perimeter Scholars International program. As past experience shows, when complementary insights are brought to bear and critical mass is reached, major advances are possible.”

The PI Distinguished Research Chairs are three-year appointments. During that time the researchers will spend three months a year here in Waterloo, working in the Perimeter Institute where they can collaborate with each other and other resident researchers. This will also allow them to interact with, and in some cases teach, students in the new Perimeter Scholars International program, a Masters level course in theoretical physics.

And just who are these elite physicists? Stephen Hawking requires no introduction. He is now a household name, thanks in part to the publication of his best-selling book “A Brief History of Time.” Appointed the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge (the position occupied by Sir Isaac Newton), he is particularly noted for his work on black hole radiation, which now bears the name Hawking Radiation. Also joining Perimeter will be Yakir Aharonov, who has done important work on quantum mechanical effects, notably the Aharonov-Bohm effect; Nima Arkani-Hamed, of the Institute of Advanced Study, who has constructed theories on emergent dimensions and proposed experiments for the Large Hadron Collider at CERN; Neta Bahcall, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Astrophysics at Princeton and an observational cosmologist with work on dark matter and the structure of the universe; Juan Ignacio Cirac, the director of the Theory Division of the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics, whose work is in quantum information and characterizing quantum phenomena; Gia Dvali, the Silver Professor at NYU and a member of CERN, doing work in particle physics, the early universe, and string theory; Subir Sachdev of Harvard, who literally wrote the book on quantum phase transitions and done much research in condensed matter physics; Ashoke Sen from the Harish-Chandra Research Institute, a noted string theorist who proposed the Sen Conjecture; Leonard Susskind, the Felix Bloch Professor of Theoretical Physics at Stanford, a founder of string theory, who has also worked in cosmology; and, Xiao-Gang Wen, the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics at MIT, a researcher who has contributed in many areas including high-temperature superconductivity, condensed matter, and the nature of space-time. All told, this is a remarkably impressive list.

Dr. Turok said that the Perimeter Institute hopes to one day expand this new initiative to reach as many as 40 Distinguished Research Chairs. This is a tall order, but if the talent attracted to PI thus far is any indication, they seem very capable of finding and involving many of the most accomplished theoretical physicists the world over. Furthermore, the compound effect of having such a large number of respected physicists in one place is bound to be an attractive incentive for more people to work at Perimeter as resident researchers and graduate students. All of this should make Waterloo the home of some of the best theoretical physics research in the world.

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Posted on 9,31,Sunday, in DAVID J GREGORY, March to the Gods and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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