What if the world you take for granted around you, the air you breathe, the buildings, the trees, the Universe, the very space and time you occupy were not real? Not, “not real” as in a dream but “not real” as in not fundamental, not a permanent stage on which the cosmology of the Universe unfolds. What if everything we perceive emerged from the billions and billions of quantum interactions that ultimately, collectively resulted in the classical world we see around us. What is space? What is its shape? What is time? Why does it flow in one direction?
These questions of the fundamentality of space, time, geometry and topology are exactly the kind of mind-bending mental gymnastics that occupy researchers in the newly formed Laboratory for Quantum Gravity & Strings (QGaSlab). Housed in UCT’s Department of Mathematics & Applied Mathematics, QGaSlab forms the third node of the Astrophysics, Cosmology & Gravity Centre (ACGC); a dynamic multi-disciplinary centre that encompasses, in addition, UCT’s Astrophysics Department and Cosmology & Gravity Group (CGG). Since its inception, QGaSlab has developed into an internationally recognised unit of research excellence. We were one of only three non-EU members of the EU COST action, "The String Theory Universe" and are proud to be hosting Strings 2020.