This project provides partial support for a planning visit by two US scientists, Dr. Sumit Das and Dr. Alfred Shapere, both at the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky to attend a meeting on Holographic Techniques in Cosmology in Luxor, Egypt, February 6-10, 2011. The topics cover applications of holographic duality to outstanding problems in cosmology and gravitation. The topics include: Brane world cosmologies and String Theory models of inflation, resolution of Cosmological Singularities, analog models of cosmology and gravity and their gauge theory duals, thermalization and black hole formation and causal structure of space-time. The foreign collaborator is Dr. Adel Awad at Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt.
Intellectual merit: The two investigators are currently carrying out research funded by the NSF/Physics Division for interdisciplinary work at the border between traditional theoretical high-energy physics and condensed-matter physics. That work is considered to be potentially transformative. They are working on a new topic called the AdS/CFT correspondence. This is a theoretical tool which has developed over the past decade which enables physicists to study theories in new mathematical limits that have been literally beyond the reach of earlier analysis techniques. The two physicists are pioneers in using these techniques in order to build new connections between different subfields of physics, and their recent work has taken them in the direction of connecting string theory and gravity. The workshop/conference in Egypt is squarely aimed at this question, and their presence there will likely assist them in furthering their own research and in developing new collaborations with the physicists there. These physicists are highly reputable, and such collaboration will be very likely to bear significant fruit.
Broader Impacts: The award will help these PI's further their research activities and collaborations with scientists from Egypt and with others participating in the workshop in significant ways.
This project involved participation in an international workshop on holographic methods in cosmology and field theory in Egypt. The workshop participants included internationally known researchers, leading Egyptian physicists, and a number of Egyptian graduate students. During this workshop the PI Das and the co-PI Shapere discussed puzzles involving the physics of the big bang with colleagues Adel Awad and Shaban Khalil and their students at Zewail City of Science in Cairo. These discussions led to a concrete strategy to understand aspects of big bang cosmology using ideas of "time crystals" recently proposed by Shapere and Wilczek, together with an application of "gauge-gravity duality" to cosmology proposed by Awad and Das. This congruence of ideas should give us new insight into the earliest moments of the universe. The establishment of an active collaboration between US and Egyptian scientists is the most important outcome of this project. In addition, the PI and co-PI helped to educate Egyptian graduate students and had extensive discussions with other research faculty. We hope that the contacts and collaborations we have establshed will help to stimulate theoretical physics research in Egypt more broadly, and lead to a vigorous and long-term exchange of ideas between the two countries.