In the spirit of 'unity in diversity', our objective is to promote insight into and appreciation for the wonder that the same physical laws and mathematical concepts apply to the whole of nature, from the largest to the smallest energy and length scales. We strive for the application of abstract theoretical ideas to real-life situations, working closely with the experimental physics groups in Leiden and Delft. In collaboration with astronomy we use the universe as a giant accelerator to discover new particles, fields, and forces that were present around the time of the big bang.
- Carlo Beenakker
With the universities of Utrecht and Amsterdam we are embedded in the National Delta-Institute for Theoretical Physics. Our research area covers three different energy scales: At the low-energy scale the quantum physics of nanoscale and strongly correlated condensed matter at low temperatures; at the high-energy scale the physics of elementary particles and cosmology; at the intermediate-energy scale the statistical physics at room temperature of soft condensed matter and biological matter. Our theoretical physicists feel at home in each of these three very different energy ranges because the same language is spoken, namely the language of mathematics. This approach extends beyond our discipline, into biological, social, and economic systems. The application of string theory to superconductivity is one example, as is the recently discovered role of quantum entanglement in black hole physics. The application of statistical physics to financial and socio-economic networks is yet another example.
The department of Theoretical Physics is called the Lorentz Institute, in honor of Nobel laureate Hendrik Lorentz, the first professor of theoretical physics in The Netherlands.