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Unification of Fundamental Forces and Applications

Final Report Summary - UNIFY (Unification of Fundamental Forces and Applications)

The UNIFY network had two main scientific objectives. One objective was to gain new insights on the quantum mechanical description of the gravitational interaction, an outstanding fundamental problem in theoretical physics, of crucial importance to our understanding of the Universe and of the forces between its basic constituents. The other main objective was to explore recent developments in String Theory and Quantum Gravity in the fields of Cosmology, Black Hole Physics and Gauge Theory. Present and forthcoming years will be bring unprecedented experimental discoveries in these fields of research and are sure to call for new explanations and to shape our attempts to construct an unifying theory of all interactions. These huge costly experiments (LHC, gravitational wave detection, PLANCK) are driven by theory, and theory is essential to analyse and interpret the vast data sets they produce. The UNIFY network was an effective training platform, well connected to these efforts, that aimed at playing a leading role in advancing EU research agendas in 'big science' projects that may lead to unprecedented insights into the fundamental workings of nature.
During four years, research at the UNIFY network has been performed along three main research lines. These include the work package on the gauge/gravity duality, the work package on cosmology and numerical relativity, and the work package on string theory, supergravity, quantum gravity and black hole physics.
The above subjects have been intensively studied, with many new results, which include: new developments towards our goal of solving N=4 SYM in the planar limit, including the spectrum, correlation functions and amplitudes of this theory; new applications of the gauge/gravity duality to describe QCD and other strongly correlated systems; improvement of our description of cosmological singularities, as well as of alternative explanations on the nature of dark matter and dark energy; the development of numerical relativity techniques that will be invaluable to understand gravitational waves emitted in violent Astrophysical phenomena; new explorations in string theory, in particular new studies in black hole physics, quantum gravity and particle physics; the exploration of other alternative roots for a theory of quantum gravity, beyond string theory; the revival of the bootstrap programme for Conformal Field Theories.
Future progresses in the above venues of research are likely to change and shape our views and understandings of physical phenomena such as: the physics of the strong interaction; the nature of the big bang singularity and of the present acceleration of our Universe; the violent Universe that will be uncovered by future gravitational waves detection; the physics behind unifying theories that ought to include strong gravitational fields. The UNIFY network contributed to a considerable improvement in our current views on the above key issues, which will most likely have an impact in current view points of our Universe.