People

Ken D. Olum

Ken Olum
Contact Info:
Tufts University
Physics and Astronomy
574 Boston Avenue
Room 304B
Medford, MA 02155

Office: 617-627-2753
Email Professor
Personal website

Research Professor

Expertise
Cosmic strings, anthropic reasoning in cosmology, energy conditions in general relativity

Research
My main area of research is the study of cosmic strings, in particular observable effects, such as gravitational waves, that might enable us to detect the cosmic string network, if it exists. Cosmic strings are one of the potential sources of a stochastic background of gravitational waves that may be detected by pulsar timing arrays or observatories such as LIGO. With my collaborators I have developed a large-scale simulation of cosmic strings, and we are the process of to going from simulation results to predictions for the gravitational wave background, with all effects included.

I also work in the philosophy of cosmology, in particular how to use ideas such as "the anthropic principle" to get from a model of what actually exists everywhere in the universe to an understanding of what we ourselves should expect observe.

I have worked for many years on the question of exotic phenomena such as superluminal travel and time travel in general relativity. My collaborators and I showed that, subject to certain conditions, a minimally-coupled quantum scalar field obeys the "achronal averaged null energy condition", which prohibits exotic spacetimes. But I am not actively working in this field currently.