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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences - Department of Physics

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences | Department of Physics | The Department | News Archive | The Research Training Group 2575 “Rethinking Quantum Field Theory” starts its work

The Research Training Group 2575 “Rethinking Quantum Field Theory” starts its work

Prof. Dr. Jan Plefka from the Department of Physics is the spokesman of the Research Training Group.

The Research Training Group 2575 "Rethinking Quantum Field Theory", funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), has started its work. Due to the pandemic, the hiring of the first two cohorts was delayed until autumn 2020. In October, however, the Research Training Group (RTG) will start with 15 doctoral students from 10 countries and two postdocs. The RTG will deal with pressing theoretical questions and key innovations in quantum field theory that go beyond established methods. "Quantum field theory is a highly developed formalism of theoretical physics for the description of interacting many-body systems. Nevertheless, fundamental questions are still open, especially in relation to gravity, and in recent years fascinating, almost revolutionary innovations have emerged here, which are being further researched within our new graduate school," says the spokesman Prof. Dr. Jan Plefka, head of the Quantum Fields and String Theory group at the Department of Physics. However, the pandemic continues to make work difficult. "Fortunately, we theorists are almost fully operational in the home office with a laptop, paper and pencil, Mathematica and Zoom. What is missing, however, is the spontaneous exchange between us, for example in the common room over coffee or at lunch, where new ideas often arise. Every meeting is now planned." All courses, colloquia and seminars of the RTG will also have to be held virtually in the winter semester 2020/21. It is also currently unclear whether the first retreat in November can be held as planned. "The organization is in full swing. The first conference in particular is very important to us, in order to give everyone involved the opportunity to get to know each other in an informal setting," explains PD Dr. Oliver Bär, the coordinator of the GRK.

The graduate college is supported by 13 principal investigators and includes all working groups in theoretical particle physics at the Institute of Physics. Further cooperation partners are the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics and the Helmholtz Center DESY. "The scientific breadth is what makes the GRK so attractive. It offers young academics many opportunities to think outside the box of their own project," explains deputy spokesman Prof. Dr. Agostino Patella. "It is the stated aim of the RTG to train doctoral candidates comprehensively and broadly, and thus to provide an ideal basis for a career in science."

Quantum field theory as the unification of quantum mechanics and special relativity represents one of the main intellectual achievements of the last century. These theoretical advances, closely connected with experimental observations, led to the standard model of elementary particle physics. With the experimental discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012, we now have an empirically validated and mathematically consistent theory up to the highest energy scales. Nevertheless, a series of terrestrial experiments, as well as the astrophysically proven existence of dark matter and energy, indicate that the Standard Model cannot be the final theory of nature. At the same time, pressing theoretical questions such as the structure of quantum gravity, the hierarchy problem or the discovery of dualities between different quantum field theories force established formulations to be reconsidered. More recently, crucial innovations have been achieved in quantum field theory that have led to a serious rethinking of its basic principles. These include new methods of perturbation theory, dualities and hidden symmetries, the prominent role of effective field theories, modern methods for scattering amplitudes and the gradient flow in lattice field theory. The further development of these methods and concepts of modern quantum field theory – or simply the rethinking quantum field theory - represent the common basis of this graduate school. These demands result in a challenging qualification program that is based on the current state of research.

More Information

Website of the Research Training Group 2575