ESP Biography

CHRISTIAN FERKO, MIT alum and string theorist

Major: 8 and 18

College/Employer: MIT

Year of Graduation: 2014

Picture of Christian Ferko

Brief Biographical Sketch:

I graduated from MIT in 2014 with a double-major in math and physics, then earned my PhD in string theory from the University of Chicago. Now I'm a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Davis.

Past Classes

  (Clicking a class title will bring you to the course's section of the corresponding course catalog)

S14332: Radiation, Antennas, and Einstein Relativity: What They Won't Tell You in AP Physics in Splash 2020 (Nov. 14 - 15, 2020)
When you shake an electron, it spits out electromagnetic radiation. This fact is the basis of all wireless communication, from radio to wifi to satellite navigation. But despite these engineering applications, the behavior of moving charges is critical to pure theoretical physics. Einstein's 1905 paper "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies," among the most important papers ever published, showed that the way a charge radiates contains the seeds of a remarkable new subject called special relativity. Come to this class to hear how the study of moving charges led to an idea which revolutionized our understanding of what space and time really are.

S12405: Harmony, Photons, and the Shape of Molecules in Splash 2018 (Nov. 17 - 18, 2018)
When you shine light on molecules, they resonate at certain special frequencies, just as a tuning fork resonates with sound waves. Calculating these resonant frequencies seems like a daunting task, usually requiring the full machinery of quantum mechanics, but in this class we'll explore a simpler way. By thinking about the shape of a molecule, we can understand its resonances using pictures, visual intuition, and a minimum of math. Come see how chemists use symmetry to study the hidden music of molecular vibrations.

S12406: Quantum Physics in Flatland in Splash 2018 (Nov. 17 - 18, 2018)
Quantum field theory is the most successful scientific theory known to humanity -- and also the hardest to understand. But it becomes much more manageable in the two-dimensional world familiar from the $$(x,y)$$ plane of geometry. This is the stage on which string theory and other so-called "conformal field theories" unfold, but here we'll discuss the essence of these theories using only intuition, conceptual arguments, and pictures. Come listen to two theoretical physics PhD students geek out about what makes physics in two dimensions so beautiful and so powerful.