Photo:

Cesar Lopez-Monsalvo

Congratulations to Kate and Emily! Thanks to all who voted for me! And thanks to the IAS team, it was fantastic taking part of this!

Favourite Thing: My favorite thing to do in science is trying to understand gravity and the physics of the flow of time.

My CV

School:

A-levels equivalent in Mexico

University:

UNAM (Mexico) BSc Physics 1999-2006, Imperial College London MSc Quantum Fields and Fundamental Forces 2006-2007 and University of Southampton PhD Mathematics 2007-2011.

Work History:

UNAM (Mexico) and University of Southampton

Employer:

Queen Mary, University of London

Current Job:

Visitor Researcher

Me and my work

Doing science is more than just doing work.

Although I am something between a physicist and a mathematician, science of all kinds become part of your everyday life. You simply cannot help it. It is not like counting the minutes to get away from a boring office and do something else, although we like and do many other things. There is always something around you that makes you think; when you wake up, when you take a shower, when you walk around, when you are actually doing work. It becomes simply the way you understand the world…and that is what we do everyday: trying our best to understand the world…although many times we may get it completely wrong. Being wrong is an essential part of being a scientist. But you have to be clever to realise that you missed it in the first place.

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My Typical Day

Try to understand why the idea that just flew into my mind is true

A lot of the work of a theoretical physicist (a person who likes to think about experiments but when is actually in a lab those never seem to work) is simply to think about stuff but in a slightly different way. When we look at something and try to understand how does it work, or why does it happen, we may think of many things. When we believe we have an answer, before telling it to someone else, we usually try to convince ourselves that it is true. That is actually the hard bit. There are many ways to fool ourselves so we must be very concious that we are not cheating. There won’t be anyone there to tell us right away that we got it wrong. A very useful way to try our ideas was most remarkably used by Einstein himself. It is simply thinking about an experiment (even if it is very difficult to actually make it) to test the wildest consequences of our ideas. If they do not contradict something we already knew, then we might be in the right track. 

So, my typical day consists of trying to understand that the idea that just flew into my mind is true, or at least find out how far can I go with it before getting it completely wrong.  No timetables at all.

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What I'd do with the money

Public lectures on gravity and the flow of time.

Since I am interested in theoretical work, there is no need for equipment. Spreading the ideas of the latest developments on the physics of the flow of time thorugh public talks and debates would be the most likely situation.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Free spacetime traveller

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Muse, Radiohead, Regina Spektor, Nouvelle Vague, Melanie Pain…depends what I am doing….

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Being lost in Iceland from the sunniest spot to the most dreadful snow storm I have ever been.

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

Partly a dream and partly a wish.. I have always wanted to create/invent/ a time machine. I reckon that would sort out the other two wishes…whichever they might be.

What did you want to be after you left school?

I wasn’t very sure…but it turned out to be better than what I could imagine back then.

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Yes, I had some issues with the `long-hair’ rules they had and some other minor stuff.

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

I have convinced many people…or at least made them think…about the beauty of the world through the eyes of mathematics….yes, it is possible.

Tell us a joke.

There are three kinds of mathematicians: those who can count and those who can’t.