AEI represented at meeting of the best physicists

Prof. Dr. Hermann Nicolai and Prof. Dr. Niklas Beisert have been invited to the 25th Solvay-Conference for Physics in Brussels

October 17, 2011

A particular honour has been accorded Prof. Dr. Hermann Nicolai, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute/AEI), and Prof. Dr. Niklas Beisert, until recently at the AEI and today at the ETH Zurich: They have been invited to the 25th Solvay Conference for Physics, which will take place from 19 to 22 October 2011 in Brussels. For 100 years, the Solvay Conferences has been bringing together the best scientists of their era to discuss fundamental problems in physics. This year the theme of the conference is the “Theory of Quantum World”. Scientists cannot register to attend Solvay Conferences; they are invited by an international committee which is also made up of a number of Nobel Prize laureates. The invitation to a Solvay Conference is thus a very special honour for the scientific achievements of the invited scientists and their institutions.

“The invitation to a Solvay Conference is a significant acknowledgement of our research work at the AEI. We are one of the very few institutes in the world where the two central approaches to the unification of quantum theory and gravity - string theory and loop quantum gravity – are pursued. At the same time, the search for a unified theory of natural forces continues. After the completion of general relativity, Albert Einstein worked on just such a theory until his death in 1955. Therefore, I am particularly excited about a lively exchange of ideas with my esteemed colleagues,” says Hermann Nicolai, who is also the recipient of the renowned Einstein Medal.

The first Solvay Conference for Physics was held in Brussels in 1911. The German physicist and chemist Walther Nernst, Nobel Prize laureate in Chemistry 1920, persuaded the Belgian industrialist Ernest Solvay in 1910 to provide support for an international meeting of physicists on the highest scientific level. The first Solvay Conference focussed on the “Theory of Radiation and Quanta”; it was attended by, among others, the important personages Max Planck and Albert Einstein, the two namesakes of the AEI. The success of the conference motivated patron Ernest Solvay to fund further conferences. Initially, the number of participants was limited to 25. However, with the growth of scientific research, the number of those attending also grew; 72 will attend this year’s Solvay Conference. The sessions, as they are called, of the Solvay Conference 2011 will deal with, among other topics, “Quantum Gravity and String Theory”, “Quanta and Condensed Matter”, and “Particles and Fields”.

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