Swedish Foundations’ Starting Grant

Henrik Johansson. Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt.

Henrik Johansson, Senior Lecturer in theoretical physics at the Department of Physics and Astronomy was granted on March 21, 2016 funds from the new foundation cooperation Swedish Foundations' Starting Grant.

The prize is newly established and is awarded to five Swedish researchers which are ranked as the best in Europe.

He is granted funds from Ragnar Söderbergs stiftelse for his project “The Kinematical Algebra underlying Quantum Gravity and Quantum Chromodynamics”.

Why do you think that you were awarded this prize at this moment?
– Firstly my research has been successful the last years, and secondly I have been lucky to be part of a field of research which is very active, with new exiting results every year. You have to be surrounded by stimulating research and active colleagues for yourself to be pushed to the extreme. It is also required an active field of research for your results to be highlighted and made use of, to eventually reach a larger audience.

What does this prize mean to you in your ongoing research?
– It means a lot to me. I am at this moment building up my group which at the present consists of two PhDs and one postdoc. With this grant I receive a contribution which I may use to expand the group, but above all I may look forward to a continuity in the financing of my research during the next five years.

What are you going to do within your research?
– I work with fundamental physics with the ambition to obtain better mathematical descriptions of high energy collisions (scattering amplitudes) between elementary particles or strings. New mathematical formulations of elementary processes may lead to better understandings of the theories which describes our Universe, e.g. the theory of gravity and gauge theories. In addition methods for precise theoretical calculations are of utter importance to interpret the results from the LHC-experiment at CERN in Geneva.

What are you hoping to achieve with your research?
– Something I have spent a lot of time with is to try to understand various theories of gravity by relating them to theories that have more established frameworks, so called gauge theories, which among other things describe the strong and the electroweak force in the Standard Model. Through the study of the mathematical details in scattering amplitudes of these theories I have found that there is an underlying Lie algebra which controls the kinematical variables. Today we have no complete mathematical description of this algebra though. One goal with my research is to find this actual complete description.

Which applications/other research do you think your research may lead to?
– My research is foremost of a theoretic nature. The physics takes place on energy scales that far exceed everyday or industrial applications. But there is also a very up to date application within the scientific community. Right now the largest scientific experiment ever is going on at CERN in Geneva. The particle accelerator LHC (Large Hadron Collider) collides together protons that travel close to the speed of light. The released energy is so huge that new unknown elementary particles may be formed in the remains of the collision. The collisions are unbelievable complicated processes though, with a large number of particles that interact in various ways. To understand what really happens, and if new elementary particles are formed, one have to very exactly calculate the probability for each process by the use of theoretical models. Above all it is the strong force (quantum chromodynamics) which dominates in LHC, and this is the most complicated part of the Standard Model. The calculation methods I have developed have turned out to be useful for precisely this application.

Read the news that Henrik Johansson was awarded the Swedish Foundations' Starting Grant (in Swedish)

Read more about the Swedish Foundations' Starting Grant and other laureates

Read more about Ragnar Söderbergs stiftelse (in Swedish)

Camilla Thulin