Dan Oriti wins prestige million-Euro young researcher prize

  1. marcus

    marcus 24,226
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    We know of Daniele Oriti because he has been postdoc in Renate Loll's group in Utrecht (see the Loll SciAm link in my sig) and because we have been following the news about his forthcoming book Approaches to Quantum Gravity: towards a new understanding of space, time, and matter

    Oriti has just won a prestigeous Humbolt foundation prize giving longterm support to independent young researchers able to find their own direction rather than simply work in some establish older-person's program. So Oriti will go to the Albert Einstein Institute outside Berlin (where Bojowald was based until he made faculty at Penn State, and several other prominent QG scientists have connections). I guess he will have support for 5 years at the AEI and money not only for his own needs but possibly to offer postdoc visitorships to other young researchers who can collaborate in the program he sets up.
    Oriti's grant is for 1.4 million Euro.

    I think this is smart policy on the German science establishment part because--in the the US system where the funds are assigned to projects rather than to individuals--young researchers can waste too many good years working on some senior person's pet dead-end. By contrast, here is support direct to the young individual with proven talent+initiative, not indirectly doled via preconceived program.
    It is a policy that Smolin's book Trouble suggested be followed in the US. We might learn something from the Humbolt foundation maybe.

    The last news I heard about Oriti was he was packing up his stuff to move from Utrecht to the Albert Einstein Institute in Gölm.

    There were 8 young researchers awarded the prizes (up to 1.6 million Euro each) and many were in bio and medicine. There was just one out of the eight given to theoretical physics.

    So let's take a closer look at Oriti's kind of QG physics---it is part of the Loop Quantum Gravity/Spinfoam/Group Field Theory cluster. We should look at GFT.

    Yidun Wan, in his most recent BraidMatter-in-spinnetwork paper mentioned a possible link-up in Oriti's direction. We should understand how BraidMatter could connect with GFT ( Oriti's focus.)

    We should also review what is going on with Oriti's book, due out February 2009. The cover photograph is turbulent water, a good metaphor for the dynamic quantum geometry of space that is studied in QG.

    back in 2006 Christine Dantas had an interview with Daniele Oriti at her blog. I don't know if it is still available online. I have the impression that Daniele has also posted some here at PF, but it would be quite a while back.

    In any case our main task should be to introduce Group Field Theory and give some sources. this is an approach that Laurent Freidel and Kirill Krasnov initiated, as I recall, but they did not pursue it so much. Instead, GFT has been developed during the past 3 years mainly by Oriti. It apparently has some kinship both with Spinfoam, one one side, and with Loll's Triangulations QG on the other side.

    For people who read German:
    Spitzenpreis für Nachwuchswissenschaftler
    Dr. Daniele Oriti erhält Sofja Kovalevskaja-Preis in Höhe
    von 1,41 Mio €
    Dr. Daniele Oriti wird von der Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung mit einem Sofja Kovalevskaja-Preis ausgezeichnet. Mit dem Preisgeld in Höhe von knapp 1,41 Millionen Euro wird Oriti am Max-Planck-Institut für Gravitationsphysik (Albert-Einstein-Institut, AEI) ab Dezember 2008 eine Forschungsgruppe aufbauen und daran forschen, neue Einsichten in die Frühzeit des Universums zu gewinnen.

    to build a researchgroup and to conduct research aimed at acquiring new insights into the early universe.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2008
  2. jcsd
  3. marcus

    marcus 24,226
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    I guess the first thing to notice is that Triangulations QG as it stands does not have a bounce, altho bounce is a robust result in LQC.
    We are in a period of convergence where spinfoam, loop, GFT, triangulations etc are coming together and Oriti thinks the GFT formalism can connect both with spinfoam and with triangulations. (also the recent paper by Freidel and Conrady was suggestive along those lines)
    So far, in Loll Triangulations QG, they simulate millions of quantum universes in the computer and they all seem to arise spontaneously starting from a small fluctuation. Part of this is probably the limitations of the Monte Carlo method, with its finite resources. What would you do if you were Oriti? Probably try to find out which approach is right about the early universe: is it Loop cosmology bounce, or is it a little spontaneous fluctuation a là Utrecht?

    We have reached the point of running Quantum Cosmology simulations of various sorts now. Not only Triangulations (although the Utrecht method is the most mature so for) but also we just saw that paper by Igor Khavkine at Christensen's group UWO where they have a Beowulf cluster. LQC is a simplified model reduced down to a small number of variables. It is time to do full simulations with the full version of the various theories.

    We heard in July Renate Loll group just got awarded a new grant for study called "A Reality Check on Quantum Cosmology". This can show how the wind is blowing. I would guess that BOTH Loll in Utrecht and Oriti in Golm will want to be running the early universe in the full theory, whichever theory it is, as a check (in effect) on the LQC bounce finding. this is a critical thing to do right now.

    OK (this is just a guess and could easily be wrong but) let's assume that and let's take a look at what is special about Oriti's Group Field Theory (GFT) quantum gravity formalism.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2008
  4. marcus

    marcus 24,226
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    Group Field Theory source material

    For starters there are the three Oriti video lectures on GFT

    These were back in 2006. I haven't looked at them for 3 years! But as I recall there he is laying out the basics of GFT for a beginning QG class, and saying why it is good.

    If someone checks these out, and has any reactions (good/bad) please let us know.
    Also if anyone knows other good introductory GFT sources, either PDF-only, or audio, or video.

    Naturally there will be a chapter, with some Q/A discussion, in Oriti's book. He is the editor and there are about 20 authors contributing chapters. The book is like 600 pages. But there will certainly be at least one chapter on GFT included. Yes, chapter 17 here:
    the chapter preprint is currently #6 on this list of Oriti's papers
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2008
  5. MTd2

    MTd2 2,010
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    That is not quite true, that is an actualy an equivalent prize in USA:

    "the fellowship is not a reward for past accomplishment, but rather an investment in a person's originality, insight, and potential." The current amount of the award is $500,000, paid in quarterly installments over five years. As of 2007, there have been 756 recipients who have received a total of more than $350 million.


    Wickzek, Witten and Terrance Tao were examples of people who got the grant. That means $100,000 yearly, a good salary, to keep a resercher independently living in USA...

    As for the european prize.



    You can even star your own little research institute! :O
  6. marcus

    marcus 24,226
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    the winners were all aged 28-35

    MTd2 you are right you could start your own research project, and bring in other junior researcher as collaborators. I think that was the idea.
    Instead of working for an older person, you give some 30-yearold with vision a kind of carte blanche---let them write their own ticket and build up a group to do whatever their idea is.

    Maybe its good plan maybe not. Have to see how it works. At least we know the winners are all under 35 years old. (I don't know what fraction of MacArthur fellows are that young.)
  7. marcus

    marcus 24,226
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    Loll: a reality check for quantum cosmology/Oriti: group field theory and early univ.

    The Septemeber Sussex workshop will help us follow what's happening.
    At Sussex there was a 3-way QG show with an unusual balance in the line-up.

    there were at least 6 QEG people (the asymptotic safe, UV fixed point Reuter people)
    there were 3 main Triangulations people plus others
    there at least 2 Loop/Spinfoam people (or more depending on how you count) Freidel and Lewandowski

    At the end of his spinfoam talk, Freidel said Group Field Theory.

    Everybody's slides are available online. Have a look.

    M Reuter (U Mainz) Asymptotic safety in Quantum Einstein Gravity [Transparencies]
    R Percacci (SISSA - Trieste) A particle physicists's view of gravity [Slides]
    C Rahmede (SISSA - Trieste) Old and new results from the Wilsonian approach to gravity [Slides]
    M Niedermaier (U Tours) Can a nontrivial gravitational fixed point be seen in perturbation theory? [Slides]
    J-E Daum (U Mainz) The Effective Potential of the Conformal Factor in Quantum Einstein Gravity [Transparencies]
    A Bonanno (U Catania) QEG: Cosmological implications and black hole phenomenology [Slides] (this talk was QEG, title doesn't make that clear)

    Loll gave a talk on CDT basics earlier
    J Ambjorn (NBI Copenhagen) Non-perturbative quantum deSitter space [Transparencies]
    J Jurkiewicz (U Jagellonia) Numerical simulations of Causal Dynamical Triangulations [Slides]
    J Ryan (Perimeter Institute) Phase space descriptions for simplicial 4d geometries [Slides]

    Loop and Foam (including GFT apparently)
    J Lewandowski (U Warsaw) Loop Quantum Gravity [Slides]
    L Freidel (Perimeter Institute) Semi-classical limit in spin foam model [Slides]
    J Barrett (U Nottignham) Spin foams [Slides] (the topic of this talk may have changed)

    the slides for the two preceding days don't seem to be available, those talks were supposed to be tutorials covering basics:
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2008
  8. dlgoff

    dlgoff 3,158
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    Thought you might want to know.
  9. marcus

    marcus 24,226
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    What a pity! Having that Loll SciAm article with original illustrations online was of real educational value.
    the text is still online at www.sciam.com, but without the graphics. I put the new link in my sig.
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2008
  10. MTd2

    MTd2 2,010
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    Education vs. closed minded copyright. Thankfully, I have no trace of respect ( and I gladly infringe it) for copyright. :p
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