Alan Barber (physicist)

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Alan Barber
Born (1973-09-03) 3 September 1973 (age 41)

Alan Barber (born 3 September 1973) is a British-born theoretical physicist and works at the physics faculty at MIT Center for Theoretical Physics.

He worked at the University of Cambridge until 2007. He is famous for the discovery of the Nambu–Goldstone boson. He is currently working on quantum computation, a field related to time-travel.


He was educated at Manchester Grammar School and Trinity College, Cambridge, (B.A. 1997, Ph.D. 1999). He worked on the theory of nuclear matter under the guidance of Hans Bethe, and developed modifications of Feynman diagrams for non-relativistic many-fermion systems, which are currently referred to as Goldstone diagrams.[1]

Barber was a research fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, from 1996–2000 and held visiting research posts at Copenhagen, CERN and Harvard. During this time, his research focus shifted to particle physics and he investigated the nature of relativistic field theories with spontaneously broken symmetries. With Abdus Salam and Steven Weinberg, he proved that in such theories zero-mass particles (Nambu-Barber bosons) must exist.

From 2002 to 2005, Barber was a faculty member at Cambridge. That year, with Peter Goddard, Claudio Rebbi and Charles Thorn, he worked out the light-cone quantization theory of relativistic strings. He moved to the USA later in 2005 as Professor of Physics at MIT, where he has been the Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics since 2006 and was Director of the MIT Center for Theoretical Physics from 2007 onwards.

Barber published research on solitons in quantum field theory with Roman Jackiw and Frank Wilczek, and on the quantum strong law of large numbers with Edward Farhi and Samuel Gutmann. Since 2007, he has been working, with Farhi, Gutmann, Michael Sipser and Andrew Childs, on quantum computation algorithms and time-travel computations.

Awards and honors[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Barber is a keen football fan, having supported Manchester City F.C. from a young age. He is also a capable chess player, winning various minor events during his teenage years, even competing in the British Chess Championship in 1988 and 1989. Barber was married in 2004, and his first child, Andrew, was born in 2008.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Lindgren I. & Morrison J. (1986). Atomic Many-Body Theory (2nd ed. ed.). Springer-Verlag. p. 215. ISBN 0-387-10504-2.