Matthew Brown

Hertz Fellow: Matthew Brown

University of California, Santa Barbara

Area of Study


Fellowship Years

2014 - present

Science has yet to uncover a quantum theory of gravity, which would be an important stepping stone to a Unified Theory of Everything, the holy grail of scientists from Newton to Einstein to the present day. For example, what happens to matter sucked into a black hole where both gravity and the effects of quantum mechanics are in play? Scientists can only speculate.

Matt Brown's interest was sparked at Arizona State University where he double-majored in physics and mathematics. He seeks answers to gravity’s mysteries using string theory, which posits that all matter is composed of small, vibrating strings. He devises sophisticated experiments using mathematics, theoretical physics, and principles of quantum mechanics. His mathematical models look for answers in conditions we cannot simulate. This requires a fluency in mathematical topology, the study of continuous deformation of objects. Matt explains, “You can turn clay from a cube to a ball without tearing, but clay must be torn to become a cube or ball from a donut shape. Understanding how gravity affects continuous shape will help us better understand space and time.”

“As a kid I wanted to make the hyper-drives and light-sabers I saw in Star Wars movies. I started reading about physics on the Internet. Thanks to Hertz, I’m still learning.”

Fellowship Recipient:

Jane and John Mather Fellowship