Wednesday 3 November 17:30 - 18:30

Virtual event/Lecture theatre 200, City and Guilds Building (dependent on ticket type)
Imperial College London


Challenging gravity

Science & Technology

Join Professor Andrew Tolley from the Department of Physics for his Imperial Inaugural.

The lecture is free to attend and open to all, but registration is required in advance.

Please note that in-person seating is offered on a first come first served basis. It is mandatory to register for a ticket if you would like to attend this event in-person. Unfortunately, we are unable to permit entry to those without a ticket on the evening.

If the main lecture theatre reaches capacity you will only be able to register for a virtual event ticket.

Please note that all children must be accompanied by an adult.


General Relativity, Einstein’s space-time formulation of gravity, celebrates over 100 years of successes, enjoying impeccable agreement with observations and experiments from distances spanning over millions of light years, all the way down to micrometer scales. However, the astonishing 1998 discovery that the expansion of universe is accelerating has challenged its very foundations.

Is the discovery of the late time cosmic acceleration of the universe the sign that the Universe is filled with an as yet undetected form of Dark Energy that entirely dictates the fate of the Universe? Or could it be the first signs that the laws of gravity are different at cosmological scales? How well do we understand gravity and its interplay with quantum field theory?

Andrew Tolley is a Professor of Theoretical Physics at Imperial College London, and has pioneered theoretical models of cosmic acceleration in both the early and late universe. In his inaugural lecture, he will discuss how the laws of gravity could differ from those of Einstein if nature was secretly higher dimensional, with our Universe confined to a slice. He will discuss how this can lead to a weaker gravitational force at cosmological distances, and how this idea led to the discovery of Massive Gravity, a breakthrough which, together with colleagues, bears his name. He will explain how, from a particle physics perspective, Massive Gravity is the natural competitor to General Relativity, and how nature differentiates between the two.


Andrew Tolley is a Professor of Theoretical Physics at Imperial College London. He received his PhD in cosmology at the University of Cambridge in 2003. He then spent 3 years as postdoctoral researcher at Princeton University, before becoming a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, Canada. He joined the faculty at Case Western Reserve University in 2010, becoming an Associate Professor in 2015. He returned to the UK in 2016 to join the theory group at Imperial College. His work on cosmology and field theory in the US has led to a Department of Energy Early Career Award and in the UK a Wolfson Research Merit Award. He is a Visiting Fellow at the Perimeter Institute and Adjunct Professor at Case Western Reserve University.

His research focusses on quantum field theory aspects of gravity and their applications to cosmology. He has worked on a range of topics from inflationary models, initial conditions, non-gaussianities, alternative formulations to the Big Bang, extra-dimensions and braneworlds. He has pioneered the development of Massive Gravity, and the use of effective field theory methods in gravity. Recently he has shown how simple assumptions about high physics can be used to derive powerful implications for consistent low energy quantum field theories.

COVID-19 guidance

This event is being planned in-line with anticipated Government guidance at the time of the event. All College safety policies in place at the time will be followed. You can read about our current safety policies on the College website.

We are committed to delivering our events safely and responsibly and in order to do so, elements of the event may need to change to adhere to any updated Government or College guidance.

This may include the use of face coverings, a reduction in guests at the in-person event and some adjustments to the schedule of the evening. We will keep guests fully up to date with any changes and further details about our plans as we move towards the event.

We also request that if you test positive for COVID within 14 days after the event please do let us know as soon as possible so that we are able to notify other attendees for contact tracing purposes.


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