Convergence Profile: Mae Hwee Teo

Mae Hwee Teo graduated from the University of Illinois and worked at Fermilab before attending PSI, and will pursue her PhD at Stanford.

PI: Scientific discoveries often happen where two or more fields intersect. What is your favourite scientific intersection,and why?
MT: Currently, I'm most curious about holography and the insights it might offer about black hole physics. Fluids in real life exhibit phenomena such as phase transitions; such phenomena have also been found for their analogous black holes in the bulk of spacetime. Thus studying one system (fluid or black hole) can give us insights into the workings of its dual system. I am by no means familiar with this whole subfield of holography - I've only learnt a bit about it though my PSI classes and research. I just find it pretty cool and interesting.
 
PI: Breakthroughs often happen at the broken places. What's the most exciting broken place for you?
MT: I'd say the most jarring inconsistency in physics shows up as the black hole information paradox. If this paradox were resolved, we would have made a giant leap in our understanding of how two giant pillars in physics, general relativity and quantum mechanics, work with each other in the extreme limit.
 
PI: "I am a physicist because..."
MT: ... I believe that trying to understand nature is a noble pursuit, and it is hard to turn down the opportunity to do so. You almost feel like it's a religious experience when you understand something so deep and fundamental, and you see these connections and symmetries in nature that you never thought were there.
 
PI: When historians look back at this moment in science, is there something you think they'll see as obvious, or that this time will be noted for?
MT: I suspect dark matter would be discovered within our lifetime, and people born in the far future would take its existence for granted, not unlike how we learn about atoms in school.
 
 

"I believe that trying to understand nature is a noble pursuit, and it is hard to turn down the opportunity to do so."

- Mae Hwee Teo