About Me

Summary

robert_reading_resized-683x1024I am an academic, author, and mathematical physics student at the University of Nottingham. I am currently studying for my PhD in M-theory, with interests primarily in the non-perturbative completion of string theory, duality and geometry, as well as the study of higher structures. Outside of this, I enjoy pursuing many interests across the whole of physics and mathematics.

My interest in string theory began prior to entering university as a first year undergraduate. But it was during the first couple of months of my undergraduate degree that I began to self-study string theory in a rigourous way, essentially rederiving most of bosonic theory for my own notes. A couple of months later, the School of Physics obtained permission to accelerate me as a first-year undergraduate to a full-time Master of Research degree, which I began in October 2019 and completed in October 2020. My MRes thesis involved the study of double sigma models in string theory under the supervision of Prof. Tony Padilla.

I’ve talked a bit about my physics journey so far in an interview with the Institute of Physics.

More about me

Since I was young I’ve had a broad and far-reaching interest in physical science, and that includes an ongoing and deep-seated enthusiasm for astrophysics, especially theoretical astrophysics. One of my first major science projects was on aerodynamics when I was 13, and it was one of several early moments where theory and physical science would coalesce to form a resounding sense of curiosity. I am also very much involved in and engaged with mathematics more generally, studying widely and intensely almost anything I get my hands on. Having taught myself calculus when I was younger, and then self-learned higher maths/physics to a post-graduate/doctorate level prior to more formal study at university, in my spare time I continue to enjoy working through various mathematical concepts and physical proofs from first principles. There is something in thinking about maths and all of its connections that excites me.

In my free time my interests also include other areas, such as mathematical biology, and I also remain very much engaged with the sciences more broadly – from cognitive science and psychology to microbiology – studying and sometimes writing in these fields. I also have an interest in the history of science and mathematics, as well as philosophy of science more generally.

During my youthful reading, well before my formal pursuit of a PhD in theoretical physics, I spent significant time heavily focused on philosophy and social science, including study on the philosophy of science and knowledge. Expanding this interest to almost every region of philosophical space, over time I began to develop concentrated study at the intersection of human society, human behaviour, epistemology and ethics. In recognition of these pursuits, I was offered opportunities to lecture at university and was once awarded a teaching-scholar position in philosophy of science at the Institute for Transnational Studies. In 2016, as a result of my developing a cross-disciplinary research programme in the area of human and social sciences, I had a book published by Springer Nature / Palgrave titled ‘Society and Social Pathology: A Framework for Progress’ (2017). It is a critical book very much belonging to the enlightenment tradition, with particular emphasis in the area of social psychology and development drawing from a multitude of disciplines. The book has been promoted as ‘the most comprehensive’ to date.

All of these interests and pursuits have led, to date, to my publishing ~100 academic and non-academic articles across a variety of specialisms, from history and anthropology to psychology, epistemology and philosophy of science. But my main focus remains on my maths and physics, my pursuit of a PhD, and more extendedly my ongoing and long-term research in theoretical physics.

Living with Asperger’s

I have autistic spectrum disorder, which, while high-functioning, on parts of the spectrum I have been diagnosed as clinically severe. I often refer to both ASD and Asperger’s, using them interchably (when I was diagnosed I was used to the Asperger’s designation). With this, I experience many daily difficulties, some of which I am still learning about. Communication is one thing that does not come easy for me. This blog is, in part, a place where I can practice writing and communicating ideas.

I have written a rough and admittedly explorative essay on living with Asperger’s, should you find it of interest. This is something I may update from time to time, should I so choose. I have also started writing about my own ASD on this blog, should one find it helpful.

My different blogs

My different blogs were also created as a space for me to document some of my interests, studies, and scholarship in a range of areas. The content is generally a mixture of formal publications and informal essays as well as personal notes and blog articles.

My main physics blog will be the most active. This blog relates to the primary areas of my research. So you will find lots of discussion on string theory and quantum field theory, particle physics, and so on. To start, I intend to publish my own study notes on string theory, beginning from the construction of bosonic strings and expanding to superstrings, the theory branes, etc. I also plan to write on a number of topics, from the Swampland Conjectures to non-perturbation theory.

I enjoy writing about mathematics. My mathematics blog will for now mostly be a space for articles that either seek to explain or explore specific mathematical theories and concepts, or as a space where I can put some of my essays on the history of mathematics (a deep interest of mine).

My new general reading blog offers a selection of some older writings mixed in with more recent pieces. I have written piles and piles of essays and articles over the years on such subjects as epistemology, science and the philosophy of science, history, psychology, systems theory, among many other things. My general reading blog is a space to share some of these works, as and when I see fit to publish them. It is also a space to think about research from a variety of disciplines, and how they might connect.

If you would like to know more about me, I have written a rough and unedited autobiographical essay that among other things describes a bit about my life so far, including personal stories such as the time when I taught myself calculus. It also offers some brief if not rudimentary reflections in relation to my early work and studies.