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Nathan Moynihan


See what i'm all about


I’m a theoretical physicist currently working in the mathematics departmemt at the University of Cape Town. I do my research jointly in the High Energy Physics, Cosmology and Astrophysics Theory Group (HEPCAT) and in the Quantum Gravity and Strings Laboratory (QGaSLAB).

My research interests are fairly broad, but mostly I work on string-theory inspired approaches to scattering amplitudes. At the moment, I’m mostly interested in using the modern amplitudes programme to better understand the analytical nature of gravity, including (but not limited to) General Relativity.

I am naturally curious, and as such I have from time to time been inspired to work on other non-amplitude based topics, such as quantum complexity and quantum chaos, although in the back of my mind I have also been thinking about these things as a way to ultimately understand gravity.

You can find an up-to-date list of my papers on Inspire or the arXiv, and you can also visit my Inspire profile page. You can download a copy of my cv here. For more information about my research, simply scroll down.



My research focusses on scattering amplitudes, the main quantity of interest in quantum field theory. In recent years, the scattering amplitudes programme has had a significant impact on our understanding of the mathematical structure of perturbative quantum field theories and gravity. The `on-shell' philosophy espoused by the amplitudes community, i.e. bootstrapping gauge-invariant on-shell amplitudes from physical consistency conditions alone, has lead to a number of incredible simplifications along with a plethora of new ways to understand old problems. One example is the BCJ duality/double copy, and while it is true that these advances have rendered previously impossible calculations trivial, this simple fact far understates the progress that has been made in, for example, understanding the underlying mathematical structure of scattering amplitudes. One stark difference between the modern approach to scattering amplitudes when compared with the path-integral approach is the fact that the modern approach doesn't assume the existence of spacetime: the only local quantities we are worried about are the initial and final states of a given scattering event, rather than trying to understand what happens between these events. It turns out that relaxing the notion that things in between measurements are local allows for incredible simplification and, intriguingly, opens up the possibility that we may be able to change our understanding of spacetime altogether.


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