2024 Medal Winners | francais

The 2024 CAP-CRM Prize in Theoretical and Mathematical Physics

is awarded to

Bianca Dittrich

"I am deeply honoured, very happy, and thankful for receiving this prize. I want to thank the CAP and the CRM for this recognition, as well as my remarkable colleagues, students, and collaborators, with whom it has been a joy to work alongside" winner citation

The Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP) and the Centre de recherches mathématiques (CRM) are pleased to announce that the 2024 CAP-CRM Prize in Theoretical and Mathematical Physics is awarded to Bianca Dittrich, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, in recognition of her important contributions to our understanding of the problem of observables in quantum gravity, and for her advancement of spin foam approaches to quantum gravity. announcement

Reconciling our current understanding of gravity with our current understanding of matter as a quantum field theory is one of the deepest challenges in contemporary physics. Bianca Dittrich has made major advances in this field with work that is both technically and mathematically sophisticated and also conceptually brilliant and original.

Dittrich has made remarkable progress towards achieving a new understanding of the most fundamental and elusive ingredients of physics: space and time. She has done so by drawing together disparate mathematical tools and concepts to develop a new framework for defining and testing predictions for quantum gravity.

Dittrich’s vision for quantum gravity is guided by the notion that it is possible to combine the technical insights of quantum gravity with the lessons of quantum field theory. Prior to Dittrich’s work, there was only one rigorous construction of a quantum geometry, which described highly degenerate spacetimes, making extracting long-range physics for any theory with this approach almost impossible. Dittrich broke through this decades-long impasse by questioning the assumption that this was the only possible quantum geometry. By using mathematical tools from topological field theory, she produced a rigorous new construction of quantum geometry that allows for non-degenerate spacetimes.

Recently, Dittrich developed “effective spin foams,” which have brought quantum gravity models within computational reach for the first time, and have so far reproduced results seen in the classical regime. In short, through technical brilliance and deep creativity, Dittrich has made major progress on the grand challenge of unifying general relativity with quantum theory. nominator citation

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