Lee Smolin

Lee Smolin profile photo
Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
Please submit all inquiries and correspondence to Dr. Smolin via email ([email protected]). Born in New York City, Lee was educated at Hampshire College and Harvard University. He was formerly a professor at Yale, Syracuse and Penn State Universities and held postdoctoral positions at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, the Institute for Theoretical Physics, Santa Barbara and the Enrico Fermi Institute, the University of Chicago. He has been a visiting professor at Imperial College London and has held various visiting positions at Oxford and Cambridge Universitiies and the Universities of Rome and Trento, and SISSA, in Italy.
If you are interested in pursuing a MSc degree, please apply to the Perimeter Scholars International (PSI) masters program. If you are interested in working with me as a PhD student, please send me an email at [email protected]. Perimeter Institute is committed to diversity within its community and I welcome applications from underrepresented groups.
Lee Smolin is a theoretical physicist who works mainly on the problem of quantum gravity. He also has contributed to cosmology, the foundations of quantum mechanics, astrophysics, theoretical biology, philosophy of science and, recently, economics. In quantum gravity Dr. Smolin was one of the initiators of two research programs: loop quantum gravity and deformed special relativity. He has the last few years been pioneering a new direction based on the hypothesis that time is a fundamental and irreducible aspect of nature, and that the fundamental laws of nature evolve irreversibly. This approach aims to solve both quantum gravity and the problems in the foundations of quantum mechanics, by proposing a theory which is a simultaneous completion of quantum mechanics and general relativity. The theory he is currently constructing is called the causal theory of views: CTV. Among the issues his papers address in the last decade are: -Time asymmetric extensions of general relativity and their implications for cosmology. -The principle of relative locality, a new extension of special relativity applicable to the phenomenology of quantum gravity. -A new approach to quantum foundations based on a new real ensemble interpretation of quantum states and dynamics. -The role of gauge invariance in models of economic markets, such as the Arrow-Debreu model and agent based models. -Quantum gravity phenomenology, in particular the constraints on deforming and breaking lorentz invariance coming from observations of Gamma Ray Bursts from the Fermi space telescope, in collaboration with Giovanni Amelino-Camelia. -The question of whether laws of physics can evolve on a cosmological time scale and related issues in the philosophy of time, in collaboration with Roberto Mangabeira Unger. -An extension of the Plebanski formulation of general relativity which leads to a unification with Yang-Mills and Higgs fields, in collaboration with Garrett Lisi and Simone Speziale. -Derivations of deformed special relativity from semiclassical quantum gravity.
  • Faculty, University of Toronto, 2009-present
  • Adjunct Professor, Department of Physics, University of Waterloo, 2001-present
  • Professor, Pennsylvania State University, Center for Gravitational Physics and Geometry, 1993-2001
  • Associate Professor to Professor, Syracuse University, 1988-1993
  • Assistant Professor, Yale University, 1984-1988
  • Postdoc, Enrico Fermi Institute, University of Chicago, 1983-1984
  • Member, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, 1981-1983
  • Postdoc, Institute for Theoretical Physics, UCSB Santa Barbara, 1980-1981
  • Member, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, 1979
  • NSERC Discovery grant, Canadian Network for Research and Innovation in Machining Technology, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, 2023-2028
  • Third Most Influential Physicist, Academic Influence, 2022
  • Alliance Grant, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), 2020
  • Co-curator of the Nautilus Time Project, Nautilus magazine, 2018
  • Former member of the Educational Review Committee and current member of the National Advisory Committee, The Walrus, The Walrus, 2018
  • Discovery Grant, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), 2017-2022
  • PROSE Award in the Cosmology and Astronomy Category, Association of American Publishers, 2016
  • One of 100 World Thinkers, Prospect Magazine, 2015
  • Inaugural Buchalter Prize in Cosmology, 1st place, Dr. Ari Buchalter, 2014
  • Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, Governor General of Canada, 2013
  • Delivered the annual "On being Canadian" lecture, The Guelph Lecture, 2013
  • "The Culture of Science Divided Against Itself," Brick Magazine, Issue 88, selected for publication in The Best of Canadian Essays, Biblioasis, 2012
  • Elected Fellow, Royal Society of Canada, 2010
  • Klopsteg Memorial Award, American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), 2009
  • List of 100 Most Influential Public Intellectuals, Prospect and Foreign Policy Magazines, 2008
  • Majorana Prize, Electronic Journal of Theoretical Physics, 2007
  • Elected Fellow, American Physical Society, 2007
  • Smolin, L. (2023). TEMPORAL NATURALISM. In Unknown Book (pp. 1-49). World Scientific Publishing. doi:10.1142/9781800613737_0001
  • Smolin, L. (2023). VIEWS, VARIETY, AND CELESTIAL SPHERES. In Unknown Book (pp. 239-268). World Scientific Publishing. doi:10.1142/9781800613775_0009
  • Smolin, L. (2023). The path integral formulation of energetic causal set models of the universe. arxiv:2303.15546v1
  • Banburski, A., Lanier, J., Shyam, V., Smolin, L., & Yargic, Y. (2022). Non-local Field Theory from Matrix Models. doi:10.48550/arxiv.2206.13458
  • Cortês, M., Kauffman, S. A., Liddle, A. R., & Smolin, L. (2022). The TAP equation: evaluating combinatorial innovation in Biocosmology. arxiv:2204.14115v2
  • Cortês, M., Kauffman, S. A., Liddle, A. R., & Smolin, L. (2022). Biocosmology: Towards the birth of a new science. arxiv:2204.09378v2
  • Cortês, M., Kauffman, S. A., Liddle, A. R., & Smolin, L. (2022). Biocosmology: Biology from a cosmological perspective. arxiv:2204.09379v2
  • Smolin, L. (2022). Views, variety and celestial spheres. arxiv:2202.00594v1
  • Yargic, Y., Lanier, J., Smolin, L., & Wecker, D. (2022). A Cubic Matrix Action for the Standard Model and Beyond. doi:10.48550/arxiv.2201.04183
  • Penney, M. D., Yargic, Y., Smolin, L., Thommes, E. W., Anand, M., & Bauch, C. T. (n.d.). “Hot-spotting” to improve vaccine allocation by harnessing digital contact tracing technology: An application of percolation theory. PLOS ONE, 16(9), e0256889. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0256889
  • Smolin, L. (2021). Views, variety and quantum mechanics. arxiv:2105.03539v1
  • Smolin, L., & Verde, C. (2021). The quantum mechanics of the present. arxiv:2104.09945v1
  • Smolin, L. (2021). Reply to Silberstein,. International Journal of Quantum Foundations, 7(2), 21-27.
  • Smolin, L. (2021). Reply to Silberstein. International Journal of Quantum Foundations, 7(2), 21-27.
  • Alexander, S., Cunningham, W. J., Lanier, J., Smolin, L., Stanojevic, S., Toomey, M. W., & Wecker, D. (2021). The Autodidactic Universe. doi:10.48550/arxiv.2104.03902
  • Penney, M., Yargic, Y., Smolin, L., Thommes, E., Anand, M., & Bauch, C. (n.d.). Vaccine Prioritisation Using Bluetooth Exposure Notification Apps. doi:10.21203/rs.3.rs-124492/v1
  • Panel Discussion - QFT vs beyond-QFT approaches (Buoninfante, Rejzner, Smolin, Vieira), Puzzles in the Quantum Gravity Landscape: viewpoints from different approaches, 2023/10/24, PIRSA:23100008
  • Quantum cosmology from first principles: second thoughts, Colloquium, 2023/10/11, PIRSA:23100057
  • The emergence of spacetime is governed by a quantum Mach's principle, Quantum Spacetime in the Cosmos: From Conception to Reality, 2023/05/12, PIRSA:23050136
  • Why is Chern-Simons theory the language of quantum gravity, Brown workshop on Cosmology, Brown, 2022/05/08
  • Views, Variety and Quantum Mechanics, Golden Webinar, 2021/08/21
  • Views, variety and the quantum, International Conference on Advances in Pilot Wave Theory + HQA2021, Zoom, 2021/07/29
  • The emergence of quantum mechanics and space, from a fundamental, active time, Quantizing Time, 2021/06/15, PIRSA:21060098
  • Seminar, Conference on Networks, Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences, Toronto, Canada, 2021/05/13
  • Laws of nature, Arizona Beyond Centre, 2021/05/12
  • The dynamics of diversity, Colloquium, 2021/03/17, PIRSA:21030005