This award provides research travel support for Professor Wafic Sabra at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon.
The most pressing question in theoretical physics has been the reconciliation of the laws of quantum mechanics which govern the microscopic world of the very small with the theory of general relativity which governs the physics of gravity. Another pressing question concerns the incorporation of gravity with the other fundamental forces of nature into a unified theory. Einstein general relativity is sufficient to understand most gravitational phenomena, but quantum-mechanical corrections to this theory become important in the study of the early universe and the physics of black holes. Professor Sabra will study the properties of the theories that might emerge from such a unified theory at lower energies. This work might therefore have relevance for studies of black holes, particle physics, and cosmology. The interdisciplinary nature of this research makes it potentially valuable to both physicists and mathematicians. This grant will also help to support theoretical physics at the American University of Beirut, a leading University promoting the American liberal-arts system in Lebanon and the Middle East. It will also encourage students there to actively engage in high-energy physics research, still an underdeveloped field in this part of the world.
More specifically, Professor Sabra will conduct research in the construction of Lorentzian and Euclidean supergravity theories and the study and analysis of their supersymmetric and non-supersymmetric gravitational solutions. In the classification of supersymmetric solutions, i.e., solutions admitting Killing spinors, he will use the powerful method of spinorial geometry. He will also classify gravitational instantons and study their connections with integrable models, Einstein--Weyl structures and black holes in higher dimensions. He will also explore the interpretation of Euclidean supergravity solutions in terms of string and M-theory.