Athanasios (Thanasis) Chatzistavrakidis

Research Associate

Division of Theoretical Physics,

Ruđer Bošković Institute

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Research Interests

My research interests concentrate at the interface of theoretical and mathematical physics. Here you can find a gentle exposition of my motivations and current research topics.

The main motivation stems from the efforts to understand how gravity and quantum mechanics befriend each other. Gravity is accurately described by Einstein's General Theory of Relativity, which has been tested with stellar success in a plethora of physical settings. On the other hand, quantum field theory and its prodigious Standard Model of Particle Physics have impressively shaped our understanding of the microcosmos of elementary particles, light and matter. However, a complete physical theory which accounts for gravity and quantum mechanics simultaneously is still lacking. The search for such a theory of Quantum Gravity is arguably one of the greatest intellectual challenges for mankind in the 21st century

Regardless of the big mystery of Quantum Gravity, the amazing progress inherited by us from 20th century physics generates motivation to further explore already established and tested theories and frameworks, especially if one agrees that our goal as scientists is not just "some collection of answers" (to borrow a phrase of Thurston in the context of mathematics), but rather a profound understanding of Nature. Specifically, the almost miraculous success of Quantum Field Theory and Gauge Theories suggests that we should explore them further and understand them better, both in the direction of their general mathematical structure and in the direction of coming up with new classes of such theories that can have physical consequences.

In more technical terms, here is a non-exhaustive list of topics that have kept me busy in the last few years:

  • Topological Field Theory & Sigma Models in any dimension (usually 2, 3 and 4), the Batalin-Vilkovisky quantization formalism and higher geometric structures, such as Courant/L-infinity algebroids and QP manifolds.

  • New physical applications of graded geometry, including gauge theories for mixed-symmetry tensor fields, higher derivative interactions, dualities between gauge theories and higher global and local symmetries. Recently I got interested in applying such ideas in theoretical condensed matter physics, such as fracton order and subdimensional particles.

  • Topics in classical gravity and geometry, such as topological terms in gravitoelectromagnetism, geodetic effects, gravitational waves, Newton-Cartan gravity with torsion &c.

In earlier years, I also worked on string compactifications in the G-structure formalism, gauge theories with fuzzy extra dimensions, matrix models and their applications in particle physics model building, cosmological applications of axions, &c.

General Interests

I am interested in creative writing, especially short stories, occasionally with a touch of physics and mathematics in them.
If you want to know more, ask me!

I also enjoy reading international literature, mostly fiction. Although I used to read a lot, I have slowed down recently, but I hope to catch up. I'm also fascinated by Greek poetry.

Basketball is the sport I like the most, both watching and playing.