Cumrun Vafa is the Hollis Professor of Mathematicks and Natural Philosophy in the Physics Department at Harvard University, where he does research and teaches theoretical physics since 1985. Born in Iran in 1960, he moved to the US for higher education where he received his B.S. in math and physics from MIT before moving to Princeton University, where he received his Ph.D. in theoretical physics.
“For me, the most beautiful aspects of physics are not the complicated math equations or even the ability of predicting how things will happen. What attracts me to physics is what it teaches us about the bigger picture. The general philosophical lessons that are embedded in physical laws are what excite me. For example, the fact that all particles and forces get unified within string theory teaches us about the unity underlying our universe. The amazingly vast collection of solutions to equations of string theory suggests that there may be many universes besides ours. What happened before the big bang, or was there a time before big bang? The “duality symmetry” in string theory, which exchanges small spaces with large spaces, suggests that perhaps as we go back in time the universe was effectively getting bigger instead of smaller. This suggests we came from other universes. Physics teaches us deep facts about our universe and our place in it. I hope I can add a little to this beautiful story. That is my goal.”
― Cumrun Vafa