Physicist Georgios Itsios is moving from the University of Athens in Greece to the Humboldt-Universität, where he will be bringing his expertise to the Emmy Noether Independent Junior Research Group on string theory led by Emanuel Malek. The research group’s aim is to use string theory to gain new insights into quantum field theory, which describes interactions between elementary particles and condensed matter. This is carried out using the holographic principle, which states that in space with negative curvature, i.e. anti-de Sitter space, string theory produces a description that is equivalent to that produced by a quantum field theory at the boundary of such space.
How would you explain your research project to someone unfamiliar with the subject?
Some physical systems admit two manifestly different but equivalent descriptions, meaning that exists a "dictionary" between them. This dictionary, which also comes with the name "duality", allows us to translate observables from one description to the other and vice versa. Dualities are powerful when our calculational tools in one of the two descriptions fail to provide answers but we can obtain them from its dual counterpart. A famous example is the so called holographic duality, which states the equivalence between a theory of gravity and a quantum theory in one dimension less. My work focuses on the study of quantum systems with known gravity duals by employing the holographic dictionary.
If your research were a work of art, what would it be?
Music! It is deeply connected to Mathematical Physics and especially String Theory!
Is there an unusual object that forms part of your everyday or professional life?
My coffee mug! It is always on my desk.
Looking at science communication, which research areas do you feel deserve more attention, both generally and in the media?
It is difficult to distinguish one, however nowadays environmental sciences which provide solutions for a more sustainable ecosystem I think they deserve more attention.
Imagine stepping into a time machine and traveling 100 years into the future. How do you think your discipline will have evolved?
Probably algorithms will play a significant role and substitute the human intellect through AI and machine learning.
What advice do you give to students and young researchers?
To learn as many tools as possible and build diversity.
If you could swap jobs with someone just for the day, who would you choose and what would you do?
A Physics teacher at high school and I would introduce the students to the powerful world of Wolfram Mathematica.
If you weren't a researcher, what do you think you would be?
Probably a programmer.
Do you have a specific hobby or talent that you would like to share with us?
To take pictures, compose images and learn new techniques. I find it very relaxing and creative.
What life lessons have you learned through your research?
To be patient and not give up and also that not all problems have solutions.
Which parts of Berlin do you find especially fascinating or inspiring for your research? Is there an element to the city that never fails to amaze you?
The whole city! It is inspiring to know that many of the most important ideas in my research area were born in Berlin.
How did you find the periods of lockdown? Have there been positive aspects that you have been able to take away from the experience?
The periods of lockdown were pretty difficult concerning human interaction due to the physical isolation, however this gave me more free time to invest in improving my daily habits. Definitely my cooking got better!