Event Details

Spacetime singularities in gravitational collapse and cosmology

  • 2020-11-04
  • Prof. Dawood Kothawala, Indian Institute of Technology Madras

Einsteins formulation of gravity in terms of geometry of space and time represented a major paradigm shift from the Newtonian framework, famously predicting, among other things, the final fate of extremely collapsed self-gravitating objects as Black Holes, which, in the eloquent words of S. Chandrasekhar, are ... the most perfect macroscopic objects there are in the universe: the only elements in their construction are our concepts of space and time. The next key development in General Relativity came through the so called Singularity theorems, first proved by Roger Penrose in 1965 introducing new, powerful tools in Lorentzian geometry, and subsequently generalized by Hawking and Penrose to study spacetime singularities in gravitational collapse and cosmology. In this talk, after giving an elementary introduction to black holes, I will briefly describe the mathematical essence of the singularity theorems, and what they imply for fundamental physics of black holes as well as the origin of our universe. It is a testimony to the profound implications of the deep questions associated with spacetime singularities that the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the 2020 Nobel prize in Physics jointly to Roger Penrose for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity, and Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy.

Dawood graduated with a Bachelors in Electrical and Electronics Engineering, and a dual Masters in Physics, from BITS, Pilani, in 2005. He obtained his Ph. D. in theoretical physics from the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune, in 2010, followed by post-doctoral work at the University of New Brunswick, Canada, and has been at IIT Madras since 2012. His research interests lie largely in classical and quantum aspects of gravitational physics, and their implications for the unification of quantum theory and general relativity. Recently, he has been exploring new geometrical tools that can provide a peek into the nature of space and time at the smallest of scales. He hopes this will shed light on the quantum structure of spacetime singularities - something that Hawking-Penrose theorems do not - while also leaving observable relics at large scales - much like the grin of the Cheshire cat!