Physicist Carlo Rovelli

Acclaimed Physicist Carlo Rovelli Explores the Mysteries of White Holes at FAU

June 2024


Carlo Rovelli

Renowned physicist Carlo Rovelli, Ph.D., enthralled a captive audience during his “White Holes: Inside the Horizon” lecture at Florida Atlantic University on May 9. The free event, hosted by the Department of Physics in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, was held in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute’s Barry and Florence Friedberg Auditorium on the Boca Raton campus.

Rovelli led approximately 300 guests through an extraordinary journey about the mysterious depths of a black hole and ending with the birth of a white hole, where space and time cease to exist.

“The universe is full of black holes into which we see matter falling,” said Rovelli. “Where does all that matter go? The answer requires a quantum theory of space and time and may be surprising. I will illustrate what happens approaching a black hole and entering it. And what might happen next.”

If there were once many black holes formed either in the early universe or before the universe, they would become Planck mass white holes that only interact through gravity. They would be dark, exactly like the mysterious “dark matter” that astronomers have detected throughout the universe. Rovelli’s most recent theory proposes a way to detect dark matter particles that pass through the Earth, if they are Planck mass white holes.

“Guests enjoyed the lecture itself thanks to Dr. Rovelli’s ability to explain, in simple yet accurate terms, the bizarre physics of black holes, both established and speculative, and the history of their discovery,” stated Jonathan Engle, Ph.D., professor of Physics, Schmidt College of Science. “They appreciated the varied question and answer session that followed his talk, as well as his availability afterward for conversation, answering more questions, and for signing copies of his latest book.”

Engle, who was instrumental in bringing Rovelli to Florida Atlantic, had been hoping to bring the acclaimed physicist to South Florida for some time.

“Dr. Rovelli is an inspiration to me and many of my scientific colleagues, and it was a great pleasure to be able to share him with our local community,” expressed Engle. “I enjoyed how he explained things in a way that avoided technical details — an art I find requires an understanding of the subject matter deeper than even that of most experts. Every question, no matter how simple, was a deep question for him.”

Carlo Rovelli

Rovelli is an Italian theoretical physicist and philosopher. He is known for his work in the field of quantum gravity, and he is among the founders of the loop quantum gravity theory. In addition to numerous scholarly publications, Rovelli is also an international best-selling author of several popular science books. He holds faculty positions at four universities, in both the physics and philosophy departments, in three different countries. Among Rovelli’s many academic and cultural accolades, he was recently named the 2024 recipient of The Rockefeller University’s “Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing About Science: An International Award Honoring the Scientist as Poet.”

Click here to watch Rovelli’s insightful “White Holes: Inside the Horizon” lecture at Florida Atlantic.