Nima Arkani-Hamed is a theorist with wide-ranging interests in fundamental physics, from high-energy physics, quantum field theory and string theory to cosmology and collider physics. He was educated at Toronto (BSc 1993) and Berkeley (PhD 1997), did post-doctoral work at Stanford (1997-1999), and was a professor of physics at Berkeley (1999-2001) and Harvard (2001-2008) before joining the Institute for Advanced Study in 2008. In 2012 he was an inaugural recipient of the Fundamental Physics Prize.

Research Interests

My work has been driven by two of the central mysteries in fundamental physics. (1) The union of quantum mechanics and gravity suggests that the notion of spacetime is approximate and must be replaced by more primitive principles, and there are related indications of fundamental limitations to quantum mechanics in both the early and late universe. These clues hint that both space-time and quantum mechanics will come to be thought of as emerging from more basic physical and mathematical ideas. I have been studying these issues in the context of scattering amplitudes in gauge theories and gravity, which give a theoretical playground where aspects of these questions can be sharply posed, while connecting directly to the experimental program of collider physics. (2) Meanwhile, we do not have a good answer to an incredibly simple question: why is the universe big, with big things in it? Indeed the existence of our macroscopic universe appears to be wildly incompatible with increasingly violent quantum fluctuations at short distances. Long-held theoretical prejudices centered about this mystery have been shattered by the two great experimental discoveries of the accelerating universe, and a Higgs particle unaccompanied by other new physics at the Large Hadron Collider. Over ten years ago I pursued a different approach to these problems that amongst
other things (successfully) predicted the mass of the Higgs particle to lie in a narrow range, and I continue to pursue this and other new approaches to the deceptively simple question - "why is there a macroscopic universe?".

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Section 13: Physics