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- Aitor Lewkowycz

June 16, 2015

**Aitor Lewkowycz** (PhD student, Princeton University) is an alumnus of Perimeter Scholars International (class of 2012), and now studies quantum gravity with Juan Maldacena at Princeton University.

AL: Quantum gravity, definitely. We've discovered a lot of exciting connections between gravity, quantum information, and condensed matter – lots of common threads between them. But we don't really understand why those threads are there; we can't map how these connections really work. Perhaps if we could put it together, we would be able to make a proper theory that would explain things in a consistent way. Perhaps we would be able to really quantize gravity. But my hunch is if we solve this, we will solve it in an indirect way. I think the path to quantum gravity will be unexpected.

AL: Many times, when I'm confused, I go for a run. When you're running you don’t have a pen and paper, so if you want to think, you have to keep everything in your head. When you're trying to make everything consistent in the simplest way – so that it will fit in your head – you can sometimes see what you were missing. I often go running, or swimming, and find that then everything makes sense.

AL: ... when I was 12 or 13, for some reason I decided I wanted to understand what E=mc^{2} meant. I don't know why I wanted to understand, but I did. I began reading a biography of Einstein, which helped. Then someone gave me Hawking’s book, *The Universe in a Nutshell*. Hawking was talking about imaginary time, about string theory, about duality – I didn't understand anything, but it was like a fairy tale, like magic that feels true. Those books are really got me into physics.

And now I am trying to understand string theory, and it is also like a fairy tale. There is so much physics and math that you have to learn before it makes sense, but it has that feeling of being true.

AL: This is my bias toward my own field, but to me this emergence of connections between quantum information, entanglement, and gravity – the connections are not obvious now, but if we can formulate this in a proper way, it may end up looking obvious.

"I think the path to quantum gravity will be unexpected."

- Aitor Lewkowycz

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