Fotini Markopoulou-Kalamara

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Fotini Markopoulou-Kalamara
Born (1971-04-03) April 3, 1971 (age 44)
Athens, Greece
Nationality Greek
Fields Theoretical physics
Institutions Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
Alma mater Imperial College London
Academic advisors Christopher Isham
Influences Christopher Isham
Roger Penrose

Fotini G. Markopoulou-Kalamara (Greek: Φωτεινή Μαρκοπούλου-Καλαμαρά; born April 3, 1971) is a Greek theoretical physicist interested in foundational mathematics and quantum mechanics. She was a faculty member at Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics and was an adjunct professor at the University of Waterloo.


Markopoulou received her Ph.D. from Imperial College London in 1998 and held postdoctoral positions at the Albert Einstein Institute, Imperial College, and Penn State University. She shared First Prize in the Young Researchers competition at the Ultimate Reality Symposium in Princeton, New Jersey.[1]

She has been influenced by researchers such as Christopher Isham who call attention to the unstated assumption in most modern physics that physical properties are most naturally calibrated by a real-number continuum. She, and others, attempt to make explicit some of the implicit mathematical assumptions underpinning modern theoretical physics and cosmology.

In her interdisciplinary paper "The Internal Description of a Causal Set: What the Universe Looks Like from the Inside", Markopoulou instantiates some abstract terms from mathematical category theory to develop straightforward models of space-time. It proposes simple quantum models of space-time based on category-theoretic notions of a topos and its subobject classifier (which has a Heyting algebra structure, but not necessarily a Boolean algebra structure).

For example, hard-to-picture category-theoretic "presheaves" from topos theory become easy-to-picture "evolving (or varying) sets" in her discussions of quantum spacetime. The diagrams in Markopoulou's papers (including hand-drawn diagrams in one of the earlier versions of "The Internal Description of a Causal Set") are straightforward presentations of possible models of space-time. They are intended as meaningful and provocative, not just for specialists but also for newcomers.

In May 2006, Markopoulou published a paper with Lee Smolin that further popularized this Causal Dynamical Triangulation (CDT) Theory by explaining time slicing of the Ambjorn–Loll CDT model as result of gauge fixing. Their approach relaxed the definition of the Ambjorn–Loll CDT model in 1 + 1 dimensions to allow for a varying lapse.

In a move away from physics in 2012, Markopoulou enrolled and studied on the Innovation Design Engineering double masters (MA+MSc) at Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art, graduating in 2014. Her two graduation projects were a solo project; Cityzen,[2] a digital voting system using values based data analytics, and MyTempo; a group project with Nell Bennett, Andreas Bilicki and Jack Hooper. MyTempo won the Deutsche Bank Award for Creative Enterprise (Design Category) 2014 [3] and was exhibited at the John Lewis Future Store.[4]

After Graduating Markopoulou and her colleagues founded Team Turquoise, a company that researches psycho-physiology, the way in which a person's mind and body affect one-another to create technology that changes how we perceive, feel and behave.[5] MyTempo was rebranded to become doppel and in June 2015 was launched on Kickstarter.[6]

Quantum graphity[edit]

In 2008, Markopoulou, Tomasz Konopka and Simone Severini initiated the study of a new background independent model of evolutionary space called quantum graphity.

In the quantum graphity model, points in spacetime are represented by nodes on a graph connected by links that can be on or off.[7] This indicates whether or not the two points are directly connected as if they are next to each other in spacetime. When they are on the links have additional state variables which are used to define the random dynamics of the graph under the influence of quantum fluctuations and temperature. At high temperature the graph is in Phase I where all the points are randomly connected to each other and no concept of spacetime as we know it exists. As the temperature drops and the graph cools, it is conjectured to undergo a phase transition to a Phase II where spacetime forms. It will then look like a spacetime manifold on large scales with only near-neighbour points being connected in the graph.

The hypothesis of quantum graphity is that this geometrogenesis models the condensation of spacetime in the big bang. A second model, related to ideas around quantum graphity, has been published.[8]

Team Turquoise[edit]

In 2014, Markopoulou, as one of the co-founders, became Research and Development Director at Team Turquoise.[9] Her work focuses on applying psychophysiology in impactful, marketable products.

The company's first product is doppel, a wearable device that can make the user more alert and focused or more calm and relaxed. It works through the same mechanism by which upbeat or downbeat music affects us.[10] Team Turquoise have won a number of awards and grants with doppel including the Pitch at Palace People's Choice Award[11] and the ICTomorrow Wearable Innovation Grant to run a trial with Disney.[12]


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