In December 2018, we held a one-day symposium to celebrate the life and career of late KITP Permanent Member Joe Polchinski. This included research talks on exciting developments in several major areas strongly impacted by Joe’s work: the landscape of cosmological string solutions, conceptual issues in black hole physics, and the renormalization group structure of quantum fields including applications to condensed matter. The afternoon contained a series of reminiscences from friends and colleagues, displaying Joe’s intense effect on colleagues as an extraordinary physicist and human being. Highlights included former student Ahmed Almheiri’s affectionate imitation and numerous accounts of Joe’s exploits in activities ranging from cycling and foozball to the theory of strong interactions and the energetics of string theory. Joe’s own words about quantum gravity research closed the session: “The quest now is to understand ‘What are the atoms of space?’ Well, that’s what we’re doing every day, and that’s where the fun is.” He has left us with wonderful memories and much to pursue in science.
- Robert Leigh, University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign,
and Eva M. Silverstein, Stanford
KITP Newsletter, Fall 2019