Acclaimed Physicist Publishes Groundbreaking Research
Nikodem Poplawski, Ph.D., who has been called a “future Einstein” has found a way to address one of the biggest challenges in quantum field theory: a mathematical problem that had long stumped physicists. His work has now been published in a leading journal, and he is looking forward to continuing his research.
October 19, 2020
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
When Nikodem Poplawski, Ph.D., was visiting his home country of Poland in the summer of 2017, he was inspired to research quantum field theory. He began work later that year on a project he now considers to be his favorite during his seven years at the University of New Haven.
Dr. Poplawski, who has been identified as being a “potential future Einstein,” had an idea he wanted to explore that could, he hoped, eliminate a major problem in quantum field theory. The theory assumes that objects interact with each other by exchanging virtual particles. Though these particles cannot be observed, scientists have proved their existence. The problem was that when trying to calculate the probabilities of interactions, scientists found the calculations often yielded infinite results. Although physicists developed mathematical tricks to yield the necessary finite results to their equations, they needed something more concrete and reliable.
After focusing his research over the last 10 years on relativity and cosmology – how black holes can make new universes, Dr. Poplawski wondered if spacetime torsion, a concept he explored in his cosmology research, could provide the answer.
“I have found that spacetime torsion, which generates gravitational repulsion that eliminates the singularity problem in black holes and provides a mechanism for black holes to create new universes, can also make finite the calculations in quantum field theory,” said Dr. Poplawski, a distinguished lecturer in physics at the University.
Torsion plays an important role in quantum field theory and general relativity, two critical and foundational theories in physics. After using torsion to prove that it prevents black holes from collapsing under their own gravity to a point of infinite density, Dr. Poplawski has shown that torsion discretizes – converts a continuous space into an equivalent discrete space – momentum, so that virtual particles can only support certain levels of momentum. This yielded the necessary finite numbers.
“I decided that my goal as a physicist is to eliminate infinity problems in theoretical physics,” he said. “I was surprised that torsion can fix two problems at once and make physics finite, with finite predictions that can be experimentally tested.”
"I was surprised that torsion can fix two problems at once and make physics finite, with finite predictions that can be experimentally tested."Nikodem Poplawski, Ph.D.
Planning to continue his research, Dr. Poplawski hopes to extend his work on treating quantum electrodynamics, which studies how electric currents and magnetic fields interact, to the theory of weak and strong interactions.
“I hope that my work can replace various mathematical and computation tricks that are currently used to overcome infinities in quantum field theory,” he said. “I showed that torsion eliminates infinities in a natural, physical way, which was what the great physicist Paul Dirac imagined.”