JILA and the University of Colorado Boulder Lead Pioneering Quantum Gravity Research with Heising-Simons Foundation Grant

Submitted by kennac on Tue, 02/27/2024 - 3:23 pm

The Heising-Simons Foundation is Awarding $3 Million for Informing Gravity Theory, including to three JILA and University of Colorado Boulder researchers. 

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Heising-Simons Foundation

The Heising-Simons Foundation's Science program has announced a generous grant of $3 million over three years, aimed at bolstering theoretical and experimental research efforts to bridge the realms of Atomic, Molecular, and Optical (AMO) physics with quantum gravity theories.

This funding initiative underscores a concerted effort to leverage AMO physics' platforms and techniques to not only probe simple models of quantum gravity but also to aid in the construction of more sophisticated models that better describe our universe.

Among the recipients, a notable grant was awarded to a multi-investigator collaboration spearheaded by the University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder) and JILA, a joint institute of CU Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). 

This distinguished team comprises leading experts in their respective fields, including Ana Maria Rey, JILA and NIST Fellow and a CU Boulder Professor Adjoint, known for her work in atomic physics; JILA Fellow and CU Boulder professor Adam Kaufman and JILA and NIST Fellow and CU Boulder professor Dr. James Thompson, both recognized for their pioneering experimental work using tweezer arrays and optical cavities, respectively. Additionally, Dr. Andrew Lucas, Assistant Professor at CU Boulder, and Dr. Chris Akers, Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, experts in holography and quantum gravity, are also included in this team of researchers. 

The CU Boulder and JILA collaboration is dedicated to addressing two pivotal questions that stand at the forefront of contemporary physics research: firstly, identifying models that are not only practical for experimental implementation but also capable of giving rise to quantum emergent spacetime, and secondly, devising methodologies to verify such emergent spacetime within experimental settings unambiguously. These inquiries are critical for advancing our understanding of the universe at the most fundamental level, potentially unlocking new paradigms in physics.

A Look Beyond Colorado

The Heising-Simons Foundation's initiative extends beyond CU Boulder and JILA, with four additional grants awarded to Dr. Brian Swingle at Brandeis University, Dr. Soonwon Choi at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Manuel Endres at the California Institute of Technology, and Dr. Monika Schleier-Smith at Stanford University. Their projects, encompassing research on information dynamics in black holes, the fundamental bounds on quantum dynamics from gravity, and the emergence of geometry from entanglement, represent a broad and ambitious effort to unravel the mysteries of quantum gravity and its implications for our understanding of the cosmos.

This collaborative and multi-faceted approach to exploring the intersection of AMO physics and quantum gravity theories heralds a new era of scientific inquiry, poised to yield insights into some of the most profound and complex questions in physics today.

Through the support of the Heising-Simons Foundation and the collective expertise of the researchers involved, these projects significantly advance our grasp of the universe's foundational principles, marking a pivotal step forward in the ongoing quest to unify the theories of the very large and the very small.

Written by Kenna Hughes-Castleberry, JILA Science Communicator