Yulia Karra
January 17

Prof. Ron Folman of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) was named among the 11 scientists who will split a grant totaling $30 million to advance research in physics.

The grant is part of a collective fund created by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Simons Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the John Templeton Foundation

It is meant to fund innovative “tabletop” experiments, which aim at expanding the frontiers of fundamental physics while still fitting into a typical university physics research lab.

Folman’s research will receive a total of $2.6 million. It is focused on helping resolve the disconnect between quantum physics and Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity using interferometers (tools used to measure lengths and shape of optical components with nanometer precision).

Prof. Ron Folman of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Photo courtesy of Ben-Gurion University
Prof. Ron Folman of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Photo courtesy of Ben-Gurion University

The professor heads BGU’s Atom Chip Laboratory and is the founder of the Weiss Family Laboratory for Nanoscale Systems.

Folman has spent the past 20 years researching the connection between the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics.

“The grant is a real recognition of our capabilities and validates the work we’ve done. It enables us to embark on one of the most fascinating experiments that one can perform in order to further understand physics and nature,” said Folman.

Doug Seserman, CEO of Americans for BGU, added: “Prof. Folman’s selection is testament to Ben-Gurion University’s renowned multidisciplinary research efforts, which fuel Israeli innovation and enhance our understanding of the world — and in this case the universe — as we know it.”

Bust of David Ben-Gurion on the BGU campus. Photo by Irina Opachevsky via Shutterstock.com
Bust of David Ben-Gurion on the BGU campus. Photo by Irina Opachevsky via Shutterstock.com

The grant will also fund studies on dark matter, ultra-precise atomic clocks, and the intersection of general relativity and quantum mechanics, among other topics. 

The other 10 scientists benefiting from the collective fund are: David DeMille of the University of Chicago; Gurudev Dutt of the University of Pittsburgh; Giorgio Gratta and Jason Hogan of Stanford University; Gavin Morley of the University of Warwick; Lyman Page of Princeton University; Michael Tarbutt of Imperial College London; Karl van Bibber of the University of California, Berkeley; Amar Vutha of the University of Toronto; and Jun Ye of the University of Colorado Boulder.

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