Scheme: Wolfson Research Merit Awards
Organisation: University of Durham
Dates: Oct 2011-Sep 2016
Summary: My research is in gravity and cosmology, and in particular investigating traces of exotic underlying physics in our everyday world. We are used to the notion of space being three dimensional - we can move sideways, back and forth, up and down. Einstein tells us that we should also view time as another dimension, but we now believe that there are other, hidden, dimensions, which give us different directions in which to move. Since our models of matter, being tested so successfully at the Large Hadron Collider, do not see these extra dimensions, the only way in which we can test them is by the force of gravity - the force that keeps us on the earth, and the earth moving around the sun.
Gravity is a weak force, but an important one. We can see its effect in the universe around us, but soon we will be able to test it far more carefully. Just like water (or electromagnetism) gravity can have waves in which it is actually the space and time that are undulating. In the USA, the LIGO experiment to see waves in the spacetime around us has just seen the first gravitational wave! The experiment saw a dramatic merger of two black holes, and we expect exciting new observations over the following months. They may be able to test the predications of General Relativity, and will certainly probe regions of incredibly strong gravitational fields where the effect of higher dimensions might be important.
The idea that we can have extra dimensions is not new, in fact, it was first suggested nearly a century ago (and popularised in Dr Who!) however, only recently have we been able to see how to make them fit with our models of nature. My work is helping to elucidate the role of these extra dimensions, and to see how we can use them to explain our universe better.
Scheme: University Research Fellowship
Dates: Oct 1995-Sep 2003
Summary: This project summary is not available for publication.