The Quantum Pontiff

Perimeter Distinguished Research Chairs

In addition to the distinguished Dr. Hawking, the Perimeter institute lands nine very impressive distinguished research chairs, including some familiar quantum names.

The presser:

Nine Leading Researchers Join Stephen Hawking as Distinguished Research Chairs at Perimeter Institute in Ontario, Canada

WATERLOO, Ontario, Canada, February 9, 2009 – Dr. Neil Turok, Director of Canada’s Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (PI), is pleased to announce the appointment of nine more outstanding international scientists to the positions of PI Distinguished Research Chairs.

The new Chairs include Yakir Aharonov of Chapman University, Nima Arkani-Hamed of the Institute for Advanced Study, Neta Bahcall of Princeton University, Juan Ignacio Cirac of the Max Planck Institute, Gia Dvali of CERN and NYU, Subir Sachdev of Harvard University, Ashoke Sen of the Harish-Chandra Research Institute, Leonard Susskind of Stanford University and Xiao-Gang Wen of MIT. They will join Perimeter Institute’s first Distinguished Research Chair, Prof. Stephen Hawking, in spending extended research visits at PI each year. The appointments are for three years. As PI grows, it plans to reach a steady state of 40 Distinguished Research Chairs.

In making the announcement, Dr. Turok stated, “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.”

In addition to building its team of resident scientists in Waterloo, Ontario, PI is becoming a second research home to many leading scientists from around the world. Each new Distinguished Research Chair will become part of PI’s research community while retaining their permanent positions at their home institutions. Below are details on each of the new Distinguished Research Chairs.

Yakir Aharonov is a professor of theoretical physics at Chapman University and Professor Emeritus at Tel Aviv University. He has made seminal contributions in quantum mechanics, relativistic quantum field theories and interpretations of quantum mechanics. In 1998, he received the prestigious Wolf Prize for his 1959 co-discovery of the Aharonov-Bohm effect. Prof. Aharonov is also a PSI Patron.

Nima Arkani-Hamed of the Institute for Advanced Study, is a leading particle physicist who has previously been a long-term visitor at PI, and is a member of the PSI faculty. Prof. Arkani-Hamed has developed theories on emergent extra dimensions, “little Higgs theories” and recently proposed new models that can be tested using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Switzerland. You can view his past PI Public Lecture, “Fundamental Physics in 2010″, on the Perimeter Institute website.

Neta Bahcall is the Eugene Higgins Professor of Astrophysics at Princeton University. She is an observational cosmologist who has pioneered quantitative approaches to the understanding of astronomical data. These methods have enabled her to achieve key insights into such fundamental questions as the large-scale structure, mass, and fate of the universe, galaxy formation, the nature of quasars, and dark matter.

Juan Ignacio Cirac, Director of the Theory Division of the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics in Germany, is a leading quantum information theorist whose group recently received the 2009 Carl Zeiss Research Award. His research aims to characterize quantum phenomena, and to develop a new theory of information based on quantum mechanics, work which may ultimately contribute to the development of quantum computers.

Gia Dvali is the Silver Professor of Physics at New York University’s Center for Cosmology and Particle Physics and a member of the Theory Division at CERN, in Geneva. Prof. Dvali investigates fundamental questions at the intersection between particle physics and cosmology, including quantum gravity, and the very early universe. He has put forward ideas on large extra dimensions, large-distance modification of gravity and brane inflation in string theory, and suggested experimentally-testable explanations for the quantum stability of the weak interaction scale. Prof. Dvali’s PI research talk, “Cosmology and Gravity at Largest Observable Distances”, is available on PI’s website.

Subir Sachdev of Harvard University has made prolific contributions to quantum condensed matter physics, including research on quantum phase transitions and their application to correlated electron materials like high temperature superconductors. In recent years, Sachdev has exploited a remarkable connection between the electronic properties of materials near a quantum phase transition and the quantum theory of black holes. His 1999 book, Quantum Phase Transitions, has been described as “required reading for any budding theorist.”

Ashoke Sen, of the Harish-Chandra Research Institute in Allahabad, India, is a pioneering string theorist whose many contributions include the famous Sen Conjecture about open string tachyon condensation on unstable D-branes, as well as numerous insights about string dualities, and entropy in black holes.

Leonard Susskind is the Felix Bloch Professor of theoretical physics at Stanford University. Regarded as one of the fathers of string theory, Professor Susskind has also made seminal contributions to particle physics, black hole theory, and cosmology. His current research centers upon questions in theoretical particle physics, gravitational physics and quantum cosmology. Dr. Susskind has been an Associate Member of PI. He has also taken part in two PI Public Lectures, “The Black Hole Wars” and “The Physics of Information”.

Xiao-Gang Wen is the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics in the department of Physics at MIT, and is also a member of the PSI faculty. He has proposed new topological phases of matter in condensed matter physics, and explored their applications, from fractional quantum Hall effects, to high temperature superconductivity, the emergence of photons and electrons, and the nature of space-time. These are elucidated in his recent book, Quantum Field Theory of Many-Body Systems.