Lecturer and principal investigator, Universität Wien
Research Interests : Theoretical and mathematical physics.
My core interest is the theory of fundamental interactions. I grew up scientifically in the „formal high-energy theory“ group at UC Berkeley (advisor: Bruno Zumino), and my research is aimed towards a quantum theory of all fundamental interactions including gravity. More specifically, I'm following and developing an approach known as „Matrix Theory“, focusing on the IKKT model (which is closely related to the BFSS model). This can be viewed as a constructive approach to string theory, which avoids the issue of a „landscape of compactifications“ and the inherent lack of predictivity.
The basic idea of this approach is to recover space-time as a „quantized brane“ solution of the matrix model, and physics from the dynamics of the fluctuations on this solution. For Yang-Mills gauge theories, this works in a very nice and convincing way. The main challenge is to recover gravity. While string theory tends to focus on the 10-D „bulk“ gravity, this doesn't help here. However, gravity might emerge directly on the space-time brane. Once this is understood, its quantization should be provided naturally by the matrix model.
Recently I'm focusing on a very promising class of such space-time solutions, dubbed „covariant quantum spaces“: They naturally lead to the spin 2 fluctuations required for gravity, and seem to have just the right properties. In particular, a recently found cosmological space-time looks very promising. This is work in progress, stay tuned! See also the related press release.
work has been supported by the Austrian Science Fund FWF.
Without that support, it would not be possible for me to
continue this line of research at the University of Vienna.
Apart from this long-term project, I'm also interested in other topics in the context of the theory of elementary particles and fundamental interactions, quantum gravity, string theory, noncommutative geometry, random matrix theory, quantum groups, etc.
Research Project "Squashed Extra Dimensions in Gauge Theory and Matrix Models"
supported by the FWF, P 28590
The focus of this project is to explore the physical
consequences of fuzzy extra dimensions, notably by certain
self-intersecting quantum geometries. This is directly relevant
to the above-mentioned Matrix Theory, but it also arise within
the framework of ordinary Yang-Mills gauge theory.
This has developed towards „covariant quantum spaces“, which allow to reconcile the notions of covariance and quantum space(time), and provide a promising basis for a higher spin extension of quantum gravity.
Members of this research group:
Marcus Sperling (postdoc), Timon Salar Gutleb (Master's
Possible topics for a Master's thesis
(completed) Project "Branes, Gauge Theory and Gravity in Matrix Models"
supported by the FWF, P24713
members of this research group:
Dr. Jochen Zahn (postdoc), Mag. Paul Schreivogel (Ph.D. Student), Clemens Kerschbaumer, Lukas Schneiderbauer (Masters students), Mag. Stefan Andronache, myself
related press release
(completed) project "Matrix Models, Quantum Spaces, and Gravity"
supported by FWF, P21610
members of this research group:
Dr. Daniel Blaschke (postdoc), Mag. Paul Schreivogel (Ph.D. Student), Nikolaj Kuntner (Diploma student), myself
COST network QSPACE
(I'm member of the management committee & leader of the working group on gravity models)
Training school Quantum Structure of Spacetime and Gravity 2016