Barak Shoshany

Barak Shoshany's picture

Areas of Research:
Email: bshoshany@perimeterinstitute.ca

My research in simple terms: I use math to try to understand what spacetime is made of, and what it looks like when you zoom in all the way.

Barak Shoshany is a PhD student in the quantum gravity group at Perimeter Institute, under the supervision of faculty member Laurent Freidel. He graduated from the Perimeter Scholars International program with an MSc in theoretical physics. Before coming to Perimeter Institute he obtained a BSc in mathematics & physics from Tel Aviv University (Israel) and did summer internships at Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel) and CERN (Switzerland).

Research Interests

"There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly how to quantize gravity, the universe will instantly disappear and be replaced by a universe in which quantizing gravity is even harder. There is another theory which states that this has already happened." (Paraphrased from "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe" by Douglas Adams.)

Barak's research involves one of the oldest and hardest unsolved problems in physics: the quest for a theory of quantum gravity, which is the unification of quantum mechanics and general relativity. Finding the correct theory of quantum gravity is crucial for a full understanding of many of the most fundamental concepts in physics such as black holes, the origin of the universe, and spacetime itself.

Specifically, Barak is currently working on one of the most promising candidates for a theory of quantum gravity, called loop quantum gravity. He is particularly interested in studying various aspects of the discrete quantum geometry of spacetime predicted by the theory.

Barak is also studying exotic solutions to Einstein's equations of general relativity which allow faster-than-light travel and/or travel back in time, such as wormholes and warp drives. These solutions give rise to many interesting questions in the fundamentals of general relativity and challenge our understanding of causality.

In addition to research, Barak is also interested in science communication and outreach, in particular debunking myths and misconceptions.

Publications

Recent or upcoming research papers:

  • Laurent Freidel, Florian Girelli, Barak Shoshany, Loop Quantum Gravity on the Edge: The 3+1-Dimensional Case (in preparation)
  • Barak Shoshany, 3+1-Dimensional Piecewise-Flat Geometries and the Loop Quantum Gravity Constraints (in preparation)
  • Barak Shoshany, Loop Quantum Gravity on the Edge: The Dual Polarization (in preparation)
  • Laurent Freidel, Florian Girelli, Barak Shoshany, Loop Quantum Gravity on the Edge (in preparation)

Seminars

  • "Is Time Travel Possible?", Perimeter Institute (Canada), August 2018. (video) (slides)
  • "The Geometry of Spacetime in Loop Quantum Gravity", Tel Aviv University and Weizmann Institute (Israel), April 2018. (slides)
  • "Interpreting the Geometry of a Quantum State of Spacetime", PI Day, Perimeter Institute (Canada), March 2018. (video)
  • "Loop Gravity and Piecewise-Flat Geometry", Quantum Gravity Day, Perimeter Institute (Canada), November 2017. (video)

Lecture Notes

Teaching and Mentoring

  • Research project supervisor, PSI Winter School, January 2018. Project: "Can the running of Newton's constant in the asymptotic safety approach to quantum gravity save spacetime?".
  • Mentor and tutor, ISSYP, July 2015, July 2016, July 2017, July 2018.
  • Teaching assistant, PSI Quantum Field Theory 2, November 2015, November 2017.
  • Teaching assistant, PSI String Theory, February 2016, February 2017.
  • Teaching assistant, PSI Explorations in Cosmology, April 2016.
  • Private tutor, mathematics and physics (high school, undergraduate and graduate level), 2008-present.
  • Private tutor, music (piano, guitar, composition and music theory), 2003-2014.

Outreach Activities

  • PI/UWaterloo undergraduate mentoring event, September 2018.
  • Keynote talk to Canadian and international physics teachers, EinsteinPlus workshop, July 2018.
  • "Researcher Speed Dating", PI researchers explaining their work to physics teachers, EinsteinPlus workshop, July 2015, July 2016, July 2017, July 2018.
  • "LAUNCH Day", Q&A and hands-on physics demonstrations to grade 6-8 students, May 2018.
  • Q&A with Canadian physics teachers, Teacher Network Initiative, December 2017.
  • Open Doors Day at PI, September 2016, September 2017.
  • Q&A with physics teachers, EinsteinPlus workshop, July 2016.
  • Q&A on cosmology with high school students, May 2015.
  • Lecture on fractals and chaos theory at Huron Heights high school in Kitchener, October 2014.
  • "Ask a Scientist" events at Perimeter Institute in conjunction with monthly public lectures, 2014-present.
  • Top Writer on the popular Q&A website Quora (answered more than 1000 math and physics questions), January 2013 - March 2016.

Physics Parodies with Jacob Barnett (on Facebook)

Other Interests & Hobbies

  • In the past, Barak has studied music composition at both Rimon School of Music and the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance (Israel). Some of his compositions are available for listening on SoundCloud and YouTube.
  • Since August 2018, Barak is serving as the conductor for the PI Orchestra.
  • Barak has been running a Dungeons and Dragons campaign at PI since May 2016.

Other Links

  • Barak has been featured in videos (1 2) and articles (1) created at Perimeter Institute for promotional and/or outreach purposes.
  • Listen to Barak's musical compositions on SoundCloud.
  • Follow Barak's public posts on Facebook.
  • Read Barak's answers to physics & math questions on Quora.
  • Watch Barak's videos on YouTube.
  • To download Barak's old notes for Tel Aviv University courses (in Hebrew only), please click here.
  • For Barak's D&D campaign, please click here.