Dr Graeme Segal

BSc, MA, DPhil, FRS
Emeritus Fellow since 2009

I am a geometer and topologist, but for some time my main interest has been in applying these subjects in quantum field theory and string theory – trying to understand the role of the concept of space in fundamental physics.

We organize our perceptions of the world in terms of space and time, and, by analogy, classical physics attributes a ‘space of states’ to every physical system. Quantum theory forces us to see these state-spaces as approximations to less intuitive structures whose geometrical nature we should like to understand better. Quantum field theory shows us how to organize them in terms of conventional space-time, but to understand gravitation – the quantum dynamics of space-time itself – we need to go beyond this hybrid picture. String theory offers us the only hints we have in this direction.