M-theory, Cosmology and Quantum Field Theory

Lead Research Organisation: Imperial College London
Department Name: Dept of Physics

Abstract

The research programme of the Theoretical Physics Group at Imperial College London is focused on the interrelated fundamental problems of quantum gravity, quantum field theory and cosmology. Our approaches to the problems of quantum gravity derive principally from superstring theory and supergravity and from the hypothesised parent theory of both these approaches known as M-theory. One important target of our work will be the relations between string theory and non-perturbative Yang-Mills gauge theory which can be derived using duality relations and exactly integrable quantum field theory models. In particular, we hope to obtain exact information about the quantum string theory spectrum and the relations between string theory and important Yang-Mills gauge theory phenomena such as confinement. The relations between string theory and Yang-Mills gauge theories have developed to the point where concrete physical predictions can be made about strong interaction physics in systems such as quark-gluon plasmas, which may be explored at the LHC collider at CERN. A second major target of our research will be to analyse the many vacuum states of string theory by extending our work on explicit solutions to the associated supergravity field equations. Infinite classes of such solutions with unbroken supersymmetry have been found, and we intend to extend this understanding to the spectral properties of the theory near these vacua. Another feature of string and supergravity theories which we shall investigate is the large class of duality symmetries they display, and how these lead to new kinds of global solutions where spacetime geometry and quantum fields are interrelated, known collectively as generalised geometry. We also have extensive expertise in the application of numerical techniques to the study of string and supergravity solutions, and we will further develop these and also apply them to the properties of black holes. In the area of cosmology and related aspects of quantum field theory, key clues to the structure of the big bang origin of the universe are to be found in the non-Gaussian corrections to the cosmic microwave background. This is an important indication about the origin of density perturbations in the early universe and of the formation of galactic structures. We have established participation both in observational programmes such as Planck, Spider and BPol, and also in the analysis of this data. On the other hand, fully developed models are needed of the evolution of quantum fields in the early universe and their effect on the evolution of early universe structure. So, in parallel with the analysis of observational microwave background data, we will pursue computational modelling of early-universe field dynamics and structure formation. There is a deep synergy between the broad strands of our research, with work on the non-perturbative aspects of Yang-Mills gauge theories informing both supergravity and superstring theory on the one hand and the study of high-temperature fields in the early universe and the computational modelling of early-universe density fluctuations on the other. Much of our work revolves around the problems of gravity and Yang-Mills gauge theories, both at a fundamental level and also in cosmology.

Publications

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Afshordi Niayesh (2016) Critical geometry of a thermal big bang in PHYSICAL REVIEW D

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Alday L (2011) On strong-coupling correlation functions of circular Wilson loops and local operators in Journal of Physics A: Mathematical and Theoretical

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Alday L. F. (2011) Correlation function of null polygonal Wilson loops with local operators in JOURNAL OF HIGH ENERGY PHYSICS

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Anastasiou A (2018) Are all supergravity theories Yang-Mills squared? in Nuclear Physics B

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Anastasiou A (2014) Yang-Mills origin of gravitational symmetries. in Physical review letters

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Anastasiou A. (2014) A magic pyramid of supergravities in JOURNAL OF HIGH ENERGY PHYSICS

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Anastasiou A. (2017) Twin supergravities from Yang-Mills theory squared in PHYSICAL REVIEW D

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Anastasiou A. (2014) An octonionic formulation of the M-theory algebra in JOURNAL OF HIGH ENERGY PHYSICS

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Andrianov, Alexander A. And Bender, Carl M. And Jones, Hugh F. And Smilga, Andrei And Znojil, Miloslav (2009) Proceedings, 7th Workshop on Quantum Physics with Non-Hermitian Operators (PHHQP VII) in SIGMA

 
Description The research area is blue skies theoretical research into the fundamental structure of matter and spacetime.
Significant results were obtained in two broad projects. The first was string/M-theory and applications to quantum
field theory. String theory is a promising approach to unifying all the forces of nature. It has a rich mathematical
structure and applications to condensed matter and geometry were also explored. The second main project was
cosmology and quantum field theory. In this project the principal objective was to seek ways of testing innovative particle physics
and quantum gravity theories against astrophysical data, such as the cosmic microwave background.
Exploitation Route The results continue to have a significant impact on the academic community and there are potential long term technological
applications.
Sectors Education,Energy

 
Description The research was focused on probing theoretical questions related to fundamental physics. Scientific breakthroughs in such endeavours invariably led to technological advances, but the precise nature of these and the timescales are unpredictable and can be long. Two specific aspects of the impact of the research are firstly, progress on the integration of science into the wider culture, made possible by our public communication and secondly, the training of young researchers. The positive impact on the economy is the production of highly trained individuals with the skills necessary to contribute at the highest level to modern businesses and industries. One RA moved into the financial sector after working on the project.
First Year Of Impact 2008
Sector Education,Energy,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic

 
Description Consolidated Grant
Amount £1,514,430 (GBP)
Funding ID STFC/J000353/1 
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2011 
End 09/2014
 
Description 14-10 Club Royal Institution 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 100 people attended

outreach
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Arts Club Talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talk on The Higgs boson: what is it and why it matters?

Outreach
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description BBC Today Programme (Radio), physics, hippies and creativity 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Talking on physics, hippies and creativity

Outreach
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description CNBC news talking about the Higgs boson 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Talking about the Higgs boson

Outreach
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Channel 4 News, talking about M-theory 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact interviewed on M theory

outreach
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Contributor in ``BBC Horizon - Is Everything We Know About The Universe Wrong?'', aired March 2010. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Contributor in ``BBC Horizon -
Is Everything We Know About The Universe Wrong?'', aired March 2010.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Contributor to "Through the wormhole with Morgan Freeman'', aired July 2011. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Contributor to "Through the wormhole with Morgan Freeman'', aired July 2011.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description I was the host in ``Joao Magueijo's Big Bang'', a Discovery, Science Channel documentary, first aired Feb. 2008.\\ 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact I was the host in ``Joao Magueijo's Big Bang'', a Discovery,
Science Channel documentary, first aired Feb. 2008.\\
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
 
Description ITV News, talking about the Higgs boson 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Talking about the Higgs boson

outreach
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Keynote speaker at LUSO 2012, UCL, June 2012. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Keynote speaker at LUSO 2012, UCL, June 2012.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Main interviewee in Quirks \& Quarks (CBC radio one) March 2010: The mystery of Ettore Majorana. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Main interviewee in Quirks \& Quarks (CBC radio one) March 2010:
The mystery of Ettore Majorana.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Presentation at the public Conference in Memoriam of Abdus Salam 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation on the relation between Professor Abdus Salam and prominent Israeli scientists, despite international estrangement between Israel and Islamic countries.

Further contacts with the Ahmadi Islamic community in London and with Israeli academics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
 
Description Public lecture at Bogazici University, Istanbul 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Public lecture at Bogazici University, Etiler, Istanbul, Turkey

Further contact with Turkish colleagues and some involvement with scientific policy questions in Turkey.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Public lecture at CBPF, Rio de Janeiro 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Public lecture at CBPF, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Further contact with Brazilian scientists.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Public lecture in Varanasi, India 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Public lecture at BHU University, Varanasi, India.

Further contact with Indian colleagues at BHU and other universities in India.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description SKY News, talking about the Higgs boson 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Talking about the Higgs boson

Outreach
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description School visits (Finland) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Talks at secondary schools in Helsinki area in Finland

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Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2011,2014
 
Description School visits: All Saints Putney 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact 30 students involved

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Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008,2009,2010,2011
 
Description Secondary school visits (South East England) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Several visits to secondary schools in Canterbury, London, Bishop's Stortford, Wokingham, Reading and High Wycombe, including talks on cosmology and particle physics to students, and a Science Fair stand.

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Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2011,2012,2013,2014,2015
 
Description Series of radio (4), TV (2), and press (8) interviews for the launch of the Portuguese translation of ``A Brilliant Darkness'', Sept. 2011. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Series of radio (4), TV (2), and press (8) interviews for the
launch of the Portuguese translation of ``A Brilliant Darkness'',
Sept. 2011.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description talkaoke 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Type Of Presentation Workshop Facilitator
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact http://thepeoplespeak.org.uk
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://thepeoplespeak.org.uk