Associate Professor

ALLAN ADAMS, Assistant Professor of Physics

Name: Allan Wilfred Adams III

Title(s): Associate Professor of Physics

Email: awa@MIT.EDU

Phone: (617) 253-4866

Assistant: Joyce Berggren (617) 253-4827


Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts Avenue, Bldg. 6-405
Cambridge, MA 02139

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Area of Physics:

Theoretical Particle Physics - String Theory

Research Interests

Allan Adams's research in theoretical physics focuses on string theory both as a model of quantum gravity and as a strong-coupling description of non-gravitational systems.

Like water, string theory enjoys many distinct phases in which the low-energy phenomena take qualitatively different forms. In its most familiar phases, string theory reduces to a perturbative theory of quantum gravity. These phases are useful for studying, for example, the resolution of singularities in classical gravity, or the set of possibilities for the geometry and fields of spacetime. Along these lines, Adams is particularly interested in microscopic quantization of flux vacua, and in the search for constraints on low-energy physics derived from consistency of the stringy UV completion.

In other phases, when the gravitational interactions become strong and a smooth spacetime geometry ceases to be a good approximation, a more convenient description of string theory may be given in terms of a weakly-coupled non-gravitational quantum field theory. Remarkably,  these two descriptions—with and without gravity—appear to be completely equivalent, with one remaining weakly-coupled when its dual is strongly interacting. This equivalence, known as gauge-gravity duality, allows us to study strongly-coupled string and quantum field theories by studying perturbative features of their weakly-coupled duals. Gauge-gravity duals have already led to interesting predictions for the quark-gluon plasma studied at RHIC. A major focus of Adams's present research is to use such dualities to find weakly-coupled descriptions of strongly-interacting condensed matter systems which can be realized in the lab.

Biographical Sketch

Allan Adams has been an Assistant Professor at MIT since 2008. He earned his A.B. in physics from Harvard University in 1998, his M.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2000, and his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 2003. After earning his Ph.D., Adams spent three years at Harvard as a Junior Fellow. In 2006, he came to MIT as a Principal Research Scientist before joining the faculty in 2008.

Selected Publications

Last updated on February 13, 2014 12:35 PM