Public Release: 

University of Cincinnati conference draws top names in physics

University of Cincinnati

Could the key to solving the questions of the universe be dangling on a string? The world's most elite physicists will examine this and many other questions in theoretical and mathematical physics at the University of Cincinnati's International Symposium on Quantum Theory and Symmetries. Hundreds of scholars from around the world are expected to attend the symposium Sept. 10-14.

The most basic explanation of string theory is that it's a mathematical approach to what's holding together the universe - it suggests that a description of particles as mathematical loops - "strings" - may hold the key to a quantum theory of gravity. The theory has been making waves since the mid-1980s and was the subject of a New York Times news article just this week.

"This conference is bringing some of the top names in the field to UC, a tremendous opportunity for both our faculty and our students," says Howard Jackson, UC vice president for Advanced Studies and Research.

Professor Ed Witten of the prestigious Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J. and son of UC Professor Emeritus of Physics Louis Witten, will discuss his pioneering research on string theory in a presentation at 8:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 12, in Room 4400 Aronoff, located in the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning.

Professor Ed Witten is the recipient of the highest scientific award for mathematicians - the Fields Medal - also billed as the Nobel Prize of mathematics. Witten, who's been called the modern age Isaac Newton by his peers, is one of the world's most regarded contributors to the field of string theory. One of the physicists who worked on the latest string theory and related M theory research out of Stanford University, Shamit Kachru, will present at noon Friday, also in Room 4400 Aronoff.

"The University of Cincinnati physics department has been growing in prestige and research funding in recent years, attracting world renowned researchers and supporting promising young new faculty," says Jackson. "Hosting an international conference of this caliber represents another high point for the department and the university as a whole."

Other presentations in Room 4400 Aronoff include:

9:15 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 10 - Lee Smolin, quantum gravity theorist and one of the founding members of the Perimeter Institute in Canada, will present on loop quantum gravity, another direction in research in quantum gravity. Smolin grew up in Cincinnati and is a graduate of Walnut Hills High School.

8:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 11 - Thomas Appelquist, Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics at Yale and the 1997 recipient of the J.J. Saukurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics from the American Physical Society

10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 12 - Peter van Nieuwenhuizen, distinguished professor at Stony Brook University/State University of New York (SUNY) and one of the inventors of the theory of supergravity

8:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 13 - Nicolai Reshetikhin, a distinguished mathematician from University of California, Berkeley and founder of the theory of quantum groups

9:15 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 13 - Roman Jackiw, Jerrold Zacharias Professor of Physics, M.I.T., is a past recipient of the Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics.

9:15 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 14 - Michael Dine, mathematical physics professor, University of California at Santa Cruz, will hold a session on string theory. Dine also was a former student of Walnut Hills High School.

11:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 14 - Michael Douglas, professor, Rutgers University, will discuss theoretical high energy physics.

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