The unification of quantum theory and Einstein's General Relativity into a consistent theory of quantum gravity, possibly unifying gravity with the other forces as well, remains the greatest challenge of contemporary theoretical physics. In this talk I will give an introductory and comparative survey of the main approaches currently available.
Prof Hermann Nicolai has been a Director of the prestigious Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Potsdam (also known as the Albert Einstein Institute) since 1997, and is Head of the Division of Quantum Gravity and Unified Theories. Research in this division is focused on one of the biggest challenges in modern theoretical physics, namely the unification of Einstein’s theory of general relativity with quantum mechanics into a theory of quantum gravity.
Professor Nicolai produced early ground breaking results in N=8 supergravity theory, a progenitor of superstring theory. He is an internationally renowned expert in supergravity theory.
Professor Nicolai’s research and leadership was recognized in 2010 with the Einstein Medal, awarded by the Albert Einstein Society, Bern, Switzerland, “to deserving individuals for outstanding scientific findings, works, or publications related to Albert Einstein”. He was also a recipient of the 2012 Gay-Lussac Humboldt Prize, awarded to researchers who have made outstanding contributions in science, particularly involving collaboration between France and Germany.