News archive 2009
£1.5m to study symmetries of the universe15 Dec 2008, PR 267/08
A group in the King’s College London Department of Mathematics have been awarded £1.5 million to better understand nature at its deepest level and, in particular, to find a single consistent theory of physics.
The Theoretical Physics group, led by Professor Peter West FRS, has consistently, for three decades, found some of the key results in supersymmetry and string theory which are generally considered to be the most promising route to a fundamental quantum theory of nature that is capable of describing all of the known physics that is observed in the universe. That is, they are essential elements of a single consistent theory which describes the four forces of nature: electromagnetism, the nuclear weak, nuclear strong and gravity.
Such a theory would account, as a matter of principle, for all physical phenomenon from the largest distances in the universes to those much smaller than the size of the nucleus of the atom. One of the main aims of the multinational Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiment that began this year at CERN in Geneva is the hope that supersymmetry will be observed some 40 years after it was proposed.
This award from the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is an increase on one the group previously held, and comes at a competitive time with fewer awards being made by the Council due to the well-publicised financial problems that it faces.
Professor West comments: ‘We try to carry out research which is particularly original and can potentially lead to new directions which might provide the building blocks for research in the future despite the unpredictable nature and rather long timescales which such work can involve. As such we are delighted to win this award which recognises the past achievements of the group as well as our future programme of research.'
Pioneered at King’s
In granting this money the STFC commented: ‘The continuing very high quality of theory research at King’s College London was noted by the Panel and justified an increase in the overall level of support in this round.... an additional two years of funding [has been] granted for the influential research in M2 branes and related work which was pioneered at King’s College London.’
Professor West explains: ‘This work by Theoretical Physics group member Dr Neil Lambert on M2 branes solved one of the outstanding problems in our understanding of branes, object of dimensions greater than one which are needed for the consistency.
‘It was recently described as “a mini revolution which would launch a thousand papers” by John Schwarz, one of the founders of superstring theory; and by David Gross, 2004 Physics Nobel laureate, as “beautiful …..and would generate many new applications”.'
The grant also provides funds for a postdoctoral fellow to work for the next two years with Professor West on a project that began in 2001. The project aims to determine the symmetries of nature at its deepest level in the belief that these symmetries are so very large that they will essentially determine the form of the single consistent theory of physics. Funds are also provided for postdoctoral fellows in the future to work on subjects of interest to the group.
The Theoretical Physics group comprises seven permanent staff. In addition to the post-doctoral fellows the award will also fund travel, computing, a substantial fraction of the group's salaries, and administrative support. Five of the seven members of the group have held prestigious senior or advanced fellowships in order to devote themselves full time to research. http://www.kcl.ac.uk/schools/pse/maths/research/thphys/
[Image: Predicted elementary particle scattering at LHC, CERN]
Notes to editors
Department of Mathematics
Mathematics has been studied at King's throughout its history and the first Professor of Mathematics was appointed in 1830. Since then the Department of Mathematics has established a record of accomplishments in central areas of pure mathematics and applied mathematics. It received a rating of 5 in both pure and applied mathematics in the most recent Research Assessment Exercise 2001. http://www.kcl.ac.uk/schools/pse/maths/
King’s College London
King’s College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (Times Higher Education 2008) and the fourth oldest in England. A research-led university based in the heart of London, King’s has 19,700 students from more than 150 countries, and 5,400 employees. King’s has an outstanding reputation for providing world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. The College is in the top group of UK universities for research earnings and has an overall annual income of approximately £450 million. An investment of £500 million has been made in the redevelopment of its estate.
King’s has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, social sciences, the health sciences, natural sciences and engineering, and has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA. It is the largest centre for the education of healthcare professionals in Europe and is home to five Medical Research Council Centres – a total unsurpassed by any other university.
The Science and Technology Facilities Council
The STFC is a science-driven organisation. They make it possible for a broad range of scientists to do the highest quality research tackling some of the most fundamental scientific questions. It is an independent, non-departmental public body of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS). http://www.stfc.ac.uk/
Melanie Gardner, Senior Public Relations Officer,
Public Relations Department, King’s College London.
Tel: 020 7848 3073; email firstname.lastname@example.org
King’s and Somerset House join forces
Time Magazine Top Ten
New interaction for Breast Cancer Gene
Booker prize winning novelist at King’s
New lung function genes discovered
Honorary recognition for King’s
King’s student in The X Factor final
Report 2008 out now
King’s study aims to cut bullying amongst NHS staff
Next steps for Academic Health Sciences Centre
This information is provided by the Public Relations Department
Tel: 020-7848 3202 Fax: 020-7848 3739 Email: email@example.com