25th anniversary of Ashtekar's landmark paper is honored at conference

August 01, 2011

Penn State University Professor of Physics Abhay Ashtekar, holder of the Eberly family chair in physics and director of the Penn State Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos, was honored at the Loops 11 Conference "Celebrating 25 years of Loop Quantum Gravity," in May of 2011 on the main campus of the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas in Madrid, Spain. The conference was scheduled to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Ashetekar's publication of a landmark scientific paper that sparked the loop quantum gravity revolution within the field of spacetime physics. The celebration featured an exhibit with loop quantum gravity-inspired art by Italian artist Luca Pozzi. During the conference, Ashtekar gave two major public lectures on loop quantum gravity.

Thanks to Ashtekar's groundbreaking work, loop quantum gravity -- a quantum theory of spacetime -- has become an approach to the unification of general relativity and quantum physics that is being pursued in dozens of research groups worldwide. Ashtekar has continued to play a seminal role in the development of this field, as well as its sub-field -- loop quantum cosmology. Ashtekar also has made contributions to quantum-field theory, gauge theories, general relativity, and quantum gravity. In addition, he has proposed theories concerning the interface between geometry and physics.

Renowned as one of the most-cited researchers in the field of relativity, Ashtekar has given plenary lectures at over 110 international conferences. His previous awards and recognitions include honorary doctoral degrees from the Université de la Méditerranée in Aix-Marseille, France in 2010 and from the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany in 2005. In addition, in 2004, he received a Forschungspreis Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Germany. He has written or co-written over 200 scientific papers and 7 scientific books, and he has served on the editorial boards of all the major journals in his field.

Ashtekar is a Fellow of the American Association for Advancement of Science and the American Physical Society. He is one of only 51 Honorary Fellows of the Indian Academy of Sciences drawn from the community of scientists living outside of India. He has held the Krammers Visiting Chair in Theoretical Physics at the University of Utrecht, Netherlands; a Senior Visiting Fellowship of the British Science and Engineering Research Council; and the Sir C. V. Raman Chair of the Indian Academy of Science. In addition, he holds a visiting professorship at the Beijing Normal University and at the Inter-University Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Pune, India.

Ashtekar's research also has been described widely in popular and semi-popular media, sometimes as cover stories. Publications and media outlets that have reported on his research include Nature, Science, the Economist, U.S. News and World Report, the New York Times, the New Scientist, Fox News, MSNBC, and many other international publications and news sources. In addition, Ashtekar was featured in the 2008 German documentary Kosmos, which was prepared in celebration of German physicist Max Planck's 150th birthday. He also was featured prominently in a documentary shown at the year-long Berlin Einstein Exhibit in 2005.

Before joining the faculty at Penn State, Ashtekar held positions as professor, distinguished professor, and the Erastus Franklin Holden professor of physics at Syracuse University from 1984 to 1993. Previously, he was professor and chair of gravitation at the University of Paris VI in France. He earned a doctoral degree in physics at the University of Chicago in 1974 and a bachelor's degree with honors in physics and mathematics at the University of Bombay, India, in 1969.

  • Abhay Ashtekar, holder of the Eberly family chair in physics and director of the Penn State Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated January 09, 2015