Professor Neil Lambert
Title: Professor in Theoretical Physics
Telephone: +44 020 7848 2860
Office: S4.07, Strand Building, Strand Campus
Office Hours (current students)
Neil Lambert's career at King's started as a newborn in the College's Labour and Delivery Department, Denmark Hill. Following a lengthy study leave that took him to the University of Toronto, where he graduated with a BSc in Mathematics and Physics in 1992, he returned to the UK and pursued Graduate studies in Cambridge. Here he completed a PhD in String Theory and Branes under the guidance of Paul Townsend in 1996. His first post-doctoral position was back at King's in the Theoretical Physics Group. Since then he has had post-doctoral positions at the ENS in Paris and Rutgers University in the USA.
From 2000-2005 he held a PPARC Advanced Fellowship at King's, after which he was appointed to a Lectureship and then was elected to a Chair in 2009. From 2010-2013 he was a staff physicist at CERN.
Neil is currently an editor for Physics Letters B (PLB).
Neil's research is primarily concerned with supersymmetry, string theory and M-theory. A basic glossary of some of the terms used is available.
String theory and M theory
String theory is generally (but certainly not universally) 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 we observe in our universe. However to date the fundamental principles that define string theory are not really known. Rather there exist five different perturbative descriptions, which are valid in ten dimensional spacetime; that is five sets of rules that tell us how to compute physical quantities order by order in some expansion parameter. It is now widely believed that there is a single underlying eleven dimensional theory, known as M-theory, that unifies these various perturbative descriptions and will, once it is better understood, provide a complete definition of what string theory is.
Supersymmetric and non-supersymmetric branes
A major theme of his work has been the study of supersymmetric branes. These are extended objects that have radically changed our understanding of string theory and M-theory. In addition the study of branes provides a beautiful connection between geometry and quantum field theory. He has also studied non-supersymmetric and sometimes unstable branes. The lack of supersymmetry makes the study of these branes more difficult however their dynamics are very interesting. The unstable branes will decay quite violently and lose all their energy into so-called closed string modes such as the graviton but also its massive cousins found in string theory. In general there is a lack of understanding of such inherently time-dependent processes in string theory and progress here promises to teach us a great deal about the fundamental degrees of freedom in string theory.
Most recently Neil has been interested in the description of multiple M2-branes in M-theory. His work here led to dramatic change in our knowledge of M2-branes, as mentioned in this article. It was even mentioned in Ian McEwan's book Solar. In particular we now have infinitely many new examples of highly supersymmetric three-dimensional conformal gauge theories (so-called Chern-Simons theories) which can be identified with the low energy descriptions of multiple M2-branes. These theories provide the first glimpses of microscopic states in M-theory that are not contained in the supergravity approximation. Going forward Neil is currently trying to see what we can learn of microscopic M-theory from M2-branes and in particular what could be said of multiple M5-branes - a notoriously difficult problem in M-theory.
Research Profile and Publications
Other published papers