The development during the present century is characterized by two theoretical systems essentially independent of each other: the theory of relativity and the quantum theory. The two systems do not directly contradict each other; but they seem little adapted to fusion into one unified theory. For the time being we have to admit that we do not possess any general theoretical basis for physics which can be regarded as its logical foundation. If, then, it is true that the axiomatic basis of theoretical physics cannot be extracted from experience but must be freely invented, can we ever hope to find the right way? I answer without hesitation that there is, in my opinion, a right way, and that we are capable of finding it. I hold it true that pure thought can grasp reality, as the ancients dreamed. :
"Fotini received her Ph.D. from Imperial College (1998). Dr. Markopoulou-Kalamara is a broadly talented researcher who recently shared First Prize in the Young Researchers competition at the Ultimate Reality Symposium in Princeton, New Jersey. Previous postdoctoral positions were held at the Albert Einstein Institute, Imperial College London, and Penn State University."
PRINCETON, NJ -- March 21, 2002: Two researchers have won an international competition for young physicists, sharing a $15,000 first prize, it was announced Thursday following the Science & Ultimate Reality symposium honoring one of America’s greatest living physicists, John Archibald Wheeler, now in his 91st year. Raphael Bousso, from the University of California, Santa Barbara and Fotini Markopoulou-Kalamara, from the University of Waterloo, Canada shared the top prize. They were among 15 finalists, ten men and five women, between the ages of 24 and 32, from eight countries. The Cosmology Prize of the Peter Gruber Foundation recognizes individuals who have contributed to the fundamental advances in the field of cosmology. The purpose of the Prize is to acknowledge and encourage further exploration in a field that shapes the way the universe is perceived and comprehended
I always thought that if we could look really close, space and space-time would turn out to be not smooth and geometrical, as in Einstein's theory, but 'bumpy' and made up of building blocks," said Dr. Fotini Markopoulou Kalamara. She is part of a group trying to show that space and time are built from mathematical units called spin nets. With a slightly different turn of fate she might not have gone into physics. As an undergraduate she spent a summer at a national physics laboratory in England: "My supervisor there told me many times that I should not go into particle physics, that the era of accelerators and great experiments was all over and it was a dying field," Dr. Markopoulou said. "In fact, he advised me to do biology, which he thought was the science of the future."
In loop quantum Gravity or LQG, reality is built of loops that interact and combine to form so-called spin networks-- first envisioned by English mathematician Roger Penrose in the 1960s as abstract graphs. (Image of Kalamara)