Kavli Institute For Theoretical Physics
The KITP Public Lecture Series

Do I have to draw you a diagram? A tale of quantum gravity

sponsored by Friends of KITP

Almost all theoretical physicists believe that quantum field theories based on Einstein’s general relativity must necessarily be ill-defined. In technical parlance this is known as the “ultraviolet problem” of quantum gravity. But, is there really a problem? New insights and calculations based on the concept that gravity can be expressed in terms of two copies of standard particle theories suggest that quantum gravity may be much, much tamer. It may even be what is called “ultraviolet finite”. The relationship between gravity and gauge theories (which I will explain) also offers the hope of simplifying Einstein’s theory, as will be illustrated using black holes.

About the Speaker

Zvi Bern studied at MIT and UC Berkeley, and traveled the globe as a postdoc before joining the UCLA Physics Department, where he is currently Professor of Physics. He has won numerous awards, including the 2014 Sakurai Prize from the American Physical Society, shared with Lance Dixon and David Kosower. He’d like to find out how particles scatter off each other by bypassing complexities inherent in Feynman diagrams. This has applications to the LHC at CERN, and, on the more theoretical side, to supersymmetric gauge and gravity theories. Bern first got into physics by striving to be like his older brother, who was learning electrical engineering. But because he didn’t really understand electronics, he decided to read about physics to help with the fundamentals. He never became a radio engineer, but, as a consolation prize, he did get to understand quantum field theory.