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Welcome to the Center for Fundamental Theory!

The primary goal of the Center for Fundamental Theory is to foster research and education of the highest quality in the fields of general relativity, non-commutative geometry, loop quantum gravity and string theory and related areas of astrophysics and astronomy, mathematical physics geometry and philosophy of science.

Monumental achievements of the 20th century physics, namely, Einstein's theory of relativity and quantum physics have been phenomenally successful in explaining the universe at large distance scales and at microscopic levels, respectively. However, the reconciliation of Einstein's general theory of relativity with quantum mechanics within a consistent framework has been the most important challenge facing theoretical physics for decades. String theory and loop quantum gravity are the two best known theories that try to reconcile Einstein's theory with quantum mechanics. Loop quantum gravity focuses on the interplay between gravity and geometry with emphasis on background independence. String theory is more ambitious in its scope and tries to unify all known forces in a consistent theory including gravity. In recent years important cosmological questions have been addressed within the framework of both loop quantum gravity and string theory that has led to exciting new developments.

These different approaches to quantum gravity and to quantum cosmology all attempt to achieve an understanding of the universe at a fundamental level, but they have traditionally been separate from each other both by their concepts and methods. Our center is one of the few places in the world where these two fields as well as non- commutative geometry are represented. Thus it is ideally suited to promote a conversion of ideas and methods.

As can easily be gleaned from the web pages of the other two centers, CPGA and CTOC, of the Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos (IGC) we are at the forefront of a new era in which important new data has begun to pour in from major experiments in which members of those two centers are deeply involved. These experiments may provide answers to some of the most important outstanding questions in cosmology, astrophysics and gravitational waves. Through synergistic interactions within IGC our Center hopes to contribute to the understanding of how theoretical physics research in cosmology, quantum gravity and string theory can be related to observation.


  • The Center for Fundamental Theory is organizing a three-day workshop on "Non-Associativity in Physics and Related Mathematical Structures," May 1-3, 2014 on Penn State's University Park campus. The workshop will bring together physicists and mathematicians whose work involves non-associative structures. Additional details will be provided closer to the workshop date. For more information, please see the workshop website.
  • A workshop on "Black Holes in Supergravity, Higher-Spin Gravity and String Theory" will be held in the Mitchell Institute at Texas A&M University during the period April 14-16, 2014. This is the third in a series of workshops, rotating between Penn State, the Albert Einstein Institute in Golm, Cambridge University, Imperial College and Texas A&M University. Members of the contact group for these workshops are Murat Gunaydin, Hermann Nicolai, Malcolm Perry, Chris Pope and Kelly Stelle.
  • Ping Xu, professor of mathematics and member of the Center for Fundamental Theory, has been named an Eberly College of Science Distinguished Senior Scholar. Read article....

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