Prof. David Kagan of the Physics Department is selected for the 2015-2016 Faculty Federation Scholar of the Year

A faculty of the Physics department bags the Faculty Scholar of the Year award.

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David Kagan joined the physics faculty at UMass-Dartmouth in the fall of 2012 after finishing a postdoctoral position at Columbia University. He received his PhD in theoretical physics from the University of Cambridge in 2007. His research interests include string theory, a deeply theoretical and specialized area of physics, as well as studies into the philosophical underpinnings of quantum theory. 

David’s manuscript describing a new interpretation of quantum theory (now expanded from 73 to 89-pages and currently under revision before being submitted to Annals of Physics for publication) titled “The Minimal Modal Interpretation of Quantum Theory” is positioned to have a major impact on how physicists interpret the foundational concepts in quantum theory. It offers a new way to understand concepts as fundamental as the quantum wave-function, density matrices, quantum measurement, etc. This new interpretation significantly improves on the original interpretations offered by the founders of quantum theory (formulated by theorists such as Erwin Schrödinger and Niels Bohr amongst others) and further developed by giants including Hugh Everett and David Bohm. This manuscript attempts to address the concerns that have been raised about the earlier interpretations such as the Many-World’s interpretation, the Copenhagen interpretation and the Ensemble interpretation, amongst others.

David’s new manuscript has already received many very positive reviews from key players in the field. In fact, David had an extended invited visit to the Perimeter Institute (Waterloo, Canada) in 2014, where he presented his work to the Institute members including Dr. Lee Smolin, one of the most creative thinkers in the field of quantum theory and founder of a promising approach to quantum gravitation. Dr. Smolin gave David constructive feedback on his new interpretation and was very strongly supportive of the new approach developed by David and his colleague. 

David’s work on string theory builds on his efforts as a post-doctoral research at Columbia University. This work involves the application of quantum effects to string theory, in particular investigating how quantum tunneling impacts the stability of the enormous number of solutions to the string theory equations. Each of these solutions “describes” a different universe, each with different physical constants, often referred to as a multiverse. David’s work in this area suggests that many of these solutions have large instabilities which grow rapidly. This implies that all but a tiny fraction of the solutions will undergo rapid decay, and, consequently, the landscape of viable solutions to the string theory equations is much smaller than initially proposed.  


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