The quantum mechanics of spacetime

7 Dec 2022

5.00pm - 6.00pm

Richmond Building, Lecture Theatre 1, Portland Street, Portsmouth, PO1 3DE


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Quantum mechanics and general relativity are apparently at odds: we do not know how to quantise gravity and we do not know where the problem lies as both theories have their own issues. For example, we do not know exactly what gravity really is and we do not really know how to describe measurements in quantum mechanics.

A good starting point would be experimental evidence that gravity or equivalently curved spacetime, does actually interact with quantum mechanics in a way that requires a quantum theory in the first place. As things stand today, we do not have any evidence for this. I will tell my own personal journey in this fascinating area of research at the overlap between these two grand theories. This journey has led to new technologies that can freeze light in motion and see behind corners, methods for creating black holes in the lab and more recently, the discovery that photons could possibly shed some light on the quantum mechanics of spacetime by going back to an experiment performed by Michelson in 1925.


Daniele Faccio is a Royal Academy Chair in Emerging Technologies, Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and Cavaliere dell'Ordine della Stella d'Italia (Knight of the Order of the Star of Italy). He joined the University of Glasgow in 2017 as Professor in Quantum Technologies where he leads the Extreme-Light group and is Director of Research for the School of Physics and Astronomy. He is also adjunct professor at the University of Arizona, Tucson (USA) and fellow of the Optical Society of America. Previously he was at Heriot-Watt University and University of Insubria (Italy). He has been visiting scientist at MIT (USA), Marie-Curie fellow at ICFO, Barcelona (Spain) and EU-ERC fellow 2012-2017. He was awarded the Philip Leverhulme Prize in Physics in 2015, the Royal Society of Edinburgh Senior Public Engagement medal and the Royal Society Wolfson Merit Award in 2017. He worked in the optical telecommunications industry for four years before obtaining his PhD in Physics in 2007 at the University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis (France). His research, funded by the UK research council EPSRC, DSTL, The Leverhulme Trust, the EU Quantum Flagship program and the Royal Academy of Engineering, focuses on the physics of light, on how we harness light to answer fundamental questions and on how we harness light to improve society.---

A public talk organised by the School of Maths and Physics, Portsmouth & District Physical Society and Quantum Science and Technology Hub

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