For every research project that Nadav undertakes he chooses a form to represent it, which is related to the research in some way. He then makes a series of pieces in that shape and writes the formulas, graphs and words that arise during the research on it. His ceramics also chart the research process itself. Early versions use draft calculations which may ultimately prove to be wrong, and are made of course stoneware with rough writing and uneven glaze. Works showing the final results of published research are made in fine porcelain and use more delicate decoration techniques, like cobalt slip inlay and overglaze gold lustre.
Nadav’s research focuses on string theory and supersymmetric field theories, specialising in dualities, exactly soluble models and Wilson loops. Most questions in string theory involve studying the behaviour of extended objects, that is objects which may be more like strings than ball shaped as we imagine traditional particles, in ten dimensional space. However, we only really know about four of these dimensions – space and time, no one really knows what the other six are - it’s assumed that they are very, very small, smaller than the size of the atom, or in fact the nucleus. So with current resolutions they can’t be seen. Therefore there are three large dimensions, six microscopic ones and one time direction. This is a radical generalisation of a particle in our usual space, whose classical dynamics were described by Newton many years ago. Strings and other objects arising in string theory are not point-like, which makes them more complicated. In addition string theory incorporates quantum mechanics and Einsteins’s general relativity. In such situations it is quite rare to be able to find exact solutions to all but the simplest problems. Nadav’s focus has been to identify more and more complicated problems that can still be solved exactly, develop the tools needed to solve them, and do exactly that.
One particular object that he studies, is known as a Wilson loop. It can be defined for any curve in space and can be evaluated by the usual tools of quantum field theory and in some contexts also by strings. In regular physical theories, Wilson loops measure the potential between charged particles, like the nucleus and an electron. In many interesting circumstances Wilson loops can be evaluated precisely, and Nadav has pioneered many of these calculations.
These theories and questions may not be directly related to our real world, but with continual study of theoretical models we gain and insight on the allowed possibilities in all models which helps to understand reality.