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Can Physics Be Reduced to a Single Formula?

Prof. Dr. Hermann Nicolai to Give 14th Einstein Lecture at Freie Universität Berlin on February 19

№ 033/2015 from Feb 09, 2015

Prof. Dr. Hermann Nicolai from the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) will hold the 14th Einstein Lecture Dahlem at Freie Universität on February 19, 2015. The lecture, entitled "Symmetrie und Vereinheitlichung – lässt sich die Physik auf eine Formel reduzieren?" will deal with the significance of the concept of symmetry for the established laws of physics and for more recent approaches. Prof. Dr. Nicolai will be referring to the unresolved questions of physics that arise mainly from the "intolerance" of quantum theory and Einstein's general theory of relativity and that will probably only be resolved in the context of a yet-to-find theory of quantum gravity. The lecture will be held in German. It is open to the public, and admission is free. RSVP by email:

"The concept of symmetry plays a vital role in the search for a comprehensive theory," says Prof. Dr. Hermann Nicolai. The president of Freie Universität, Prof. Dr. Peter-André Alt, and the dean of the Department of Physics, Robert Bittl, will open the event.

Prof. Dr. Hermann Nicolai, born 1952 in Friedberg, Hesse, majored in physics and mathematics at Karlsruhe. He earned his doctorate in 1978 from the University of Karlsruhe. From 1979 to 1986, Nicolai worked as a researcher at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva. In 1983 he completed the habilitation process, which is required for qualifying as a professor at German universities, at the University of Heidelberg. His qualification is in theoretical physics. Nicolai then worked as a professor, at first at the University of Karlsruhe and then at Universität Hamburg. Since 1997 he has been the director and a scientific member of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) in Potsdam-Golm. He is an adjunct professor at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and at Leibniz Universität Hannover. Nicolai has received numerous awards for his work: In 1991 he received the Otto Klung Prize for Physics, in 2010 the Albert Einstein Medal, and in 2012 the Gay-Lussac-Humboldt Award.

The Einstein Lectures Dahlem, hosted by Freie Universität Berlin in partnership with several external institutions, are dedicated to the epochal work of Albert Einstein. Einstein was the director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Physics for almost two decades. Held in Dahlem, a district in Berlin that has long been a center of scientific research, the Einstein Lectures Dahlem present a first-rate, interdisciplinary colloquium. The lectures address a broad academic public and cover various scientific disciplines influenced by Einstein’s thinking.

Time and Location

  • Thursday, February 19, 2015, 5 p.m.
  • Freie Universität Berlin, Henry Ford Building, Lecture Hall A, Garystraße 35, 14195 Berlin; subway station: Thielplatz (U3)

Press Image

Prof. Dr. Hermann Nicolai

The photo is available for download for media representatives. It is free of charge for use in the context of the press release, provided you give due credit to N. Michalke / AEI.

Further Information

  • Prof. Dr. Ludger Wöste, Institute of Experimental Physics, Department of Physics, Freie Universität Berlin, Tel.: +49 30 838-56118, Email:
  • Franca Brand, International Office, Freie Universität Berlin, Tel.: +49 30 838-73801, Email:

Links to Further Information