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Edward Witten

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Edward Witten is an American theoretical physicist known for his contributions to String theory, Topological quantum field theory, and various areas of mathematics. He is a professor emeritus in the school of natural sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Witten is a researcher in string theory, quantum gravity, supersymmetric quantum field theories, and other areas of mathematical physics. Witten's work has also significantly impacted pure mathematics. In 1990, he became the first physicist to be awarded a Fields Medal by the International Mathematical Union, for his mathematical insights in physics, such as his 1981 proof of the positive energy theorem in general relativity, and his interpretation of the Jones invariants of knots as Feynman integrals. He is considered the practical founder of M-theory.

Witten in 2008

Edward Witten (left) with mathematician Shigefumi Mori, probably at the ICM in 1990, where they received the Fields Medal

Edward Witten (center) with David Gross and Stephen Hawking at Strings 2001 at TIFR in Mumbai, India

String theory

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In physics, string theory is a theoretical framework in which the point-like particles of particle physics are replaced by one-dimensional objects called strings. String theory describes how these strings propagate through space and interact with each other. On distance scales larger than the string scale, a string looks just like an ordinary particle, with its mass, charge, and other properties determined by the vibrational state of the string. In string theory, one of the many vibrational states of the string corresponds to the graviton, a quantum mechanical particle that carries the gravitational force. Thus, string theory is a theory of quantum gravity.

A cross section of a quintic Calabi–Yau manifold

A magnet levitating above a high-temperature superconductor. Today some physicists are working to understand high-temperature superconductivity using the AdS/CFT correspondence.

A graph of the j-function in the complex plane

Leonard Susskind