Researchers from Perimeter Institute have won both first and third prizes in the 2015 Buchalter Cosmology Prize competition for work that sheds new light on the workings of space and time. 

Jan. 6, 2016 (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada) – For the second consecutive year, Perimeter Institute researchers have taken both first and third prizes in the prestigious Buchalter Cosmology Prize competition.

Flavio Mercati, a postdoctoral researcher and Templeton Frontiers Fellow at Perimeter, along with collaborators Julian Barbour and Tim Koslowski (University of New Brunswick), earned first prize for their work on the arrow of time. In the winning paper, titled “Identification of a Gravitational Arrow of Time (arXiv: 1409.0917),” they argue that the flow of time from past to future can be understood in terms complexity, rather than entropy (as held in the prevailing “past hypothesis”).

“We realized that there is a possible explanation for the arrow of time that doesn’t need special conditions for the origin of the universe,” explained Mercati. “The answer is just sitting in gravity itself.”

The judging committee recognized the work as “an insightful step towards showing that an arrow of time is a natural expectation in cosmology, rather than a feature that requires significant fine-tuning as suggested by current theories.”

Niayesh Afshordi, a Faculty member at Perimeter and the University of Waterloo, along with Elliot Nelson, a postdoctoral researcher at Perimeter, won third prize for a paper that explores a new intersection between particle physics and cosmology.

The winning paper, titled “Cosmological Non-Constant Problem: Cosmological bounds on TeV-scale physics and beyond (arXiv: 1504.00012),” was judged to be “an intriguing proposition that the Planck scale of quantum gravity may soon be accessible by particle accelerators.” It is an important insight that Afshordi and Nelson reached by studying quantum fluctuations in the vacuum energy.

“We are very proud of this research, and have high hopes that it will open exciting new pathways for discovery,” says Afshordi. “Being recognized by the Buchalter Cosmology Prize is an honour.”

Last year, Perimeter’s Lee Smolin shared first place in the inaugural Buchalter Cosmology Prize with Marina Cortes of the University of Edinburgh for their work on causality and time, while third prize was shared by two Perimeter researchers, Luis Lehner and Matthew Johnson (jointly appointed with York University), for their work simulating collisions of bubble universes.

Institut Périmètre de Physique Théorique

L'Institut Périmètre est le plus grand centre de recherche en physique théorique au monde. Fondé en 1999, cet institut indépendant vise à favoriser les percées dans la compréhension fondamentale de notre univers, des plus infimes particules au cosmos tout entier. Les recherches effectuées à l’Institut Périmètre reposent sur l'idée que la science fondamentale fait progresser le savoir humain et catalyse l'innovation, et que la physique théorique d'aujourd'hui est la technologie de demain. Situé dans la région de Waterloo, cet établissement sans but lucratif met de l'avant un partenariat public-privé unique en son genre avec entre autres les gouvernements de l'Ontario et du Canada. Il facilite la recherche de pointe, forme la prochaine génération de pionniers de la science et communique le pouvoir de la physique grâce à des programmes primés d'éducation et de vulgarisation.


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