Eugenio Bianchi Awarded Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship

Perimeter Postdoctoral Researcher Eugenio Bianchi has been awarded a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship. The awards are given annually to elite postdoctoral researchers from across Canada and around the world. The program awards 70 new fellowships per year, each valued at $70,000 annually, for up to two years.

The objective of the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships Program is to attract and retain world-class postdoctoral talent, develop their leadership potential, and position them for success as the research leaders of tomorrow. Bianchi works in the field of quantum gravity, which seeks to unify Einstein’s theory of relativity with quantum mechanics. Recently, he achieved an important result: taking a loop quantum gravity approach, he re-derived a famous equation for the entropy of black holes from first principles. A formula for the entropy of a black hole may seem like an obscure result, but it’s actually an important signpost on the road to quantum gravity. The equation – which is called the Bekenstein-Hawking formula − is one of the very few in physics that contains constants from both quantum mechanics and Einstein’s gravitation. This tantalizing intersection between the two great physics theories of the 20th century has long fascinated researchers who are struggling to unify them into a 21st century theory of quantum gravity. Loop quantum gravity, or LQG, is one of several competing theories proposed by these quantum gravity researchers. Among other things, LQG predicts that at a very small scale, spacetime is made of discrete chunks which cannot be further divided – in much the same way that Lego blocks only come in multiples of the same length. LQG researchers have always calculated the entropy of black holes by counting the number of different ways a black hole’s horizon can be “built” out of such spacetime blocks. This build-and-count approach gave only a partial match for the Bekenstein-Hawking formula – but even this partial match was considered a triumph. Bianchi was able to take this work one step further. Using a new formalism called spinfoams, he was able to study the energy and temperature of each of the spacetime blocks, and assign each an entropy. His resulting calculation for the total entropy of a black hole was a perfect match for the Bekenstein-Hawking formula. Bianchi’s work has received significant attention in the scientific community and is now being further developed in collaboration with research groups internationally.

Further Exploration:

  • E. Bianchi, “Entropy of Non-Extremal Black Holes From Loop Quantum Gravity,” arXiv: 1204:5122.
  • Watch Bianchi’s talk, “Black Hole Entropy from Loop Quantum Gravity”: PIRSA: 12050053.

About Perimeter Institute

Perimeter Institute is the world’s largest research hub devoted to theoretical physics. The independent Institute was founded in 1999 to foster breakthroughs in the fundamental understanding of our universe, from the smallest particles to the entire cosmos. Research at Perimeter is motivated by the understanding that fundamental science advances human knowledge and catalyzes innovation, and that today’s theoretical physics is tomorrow’s technology. Located in the Region of Waterloo, the not-for-profit Institute is a unique public-private endeavour, including the Governments of Ontario and Canada, that enables cutting-edge research, trains the next generation of scientific pioneers, and shares the power of physics through award-winning educational outreach and public engagement.

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