We know that our universe expands. Distances between stars, constellations and galaxies are constantly growing. This cosmological phenomenon, which was predicted nearly one hundred years ago and constitutes the research area of experimental and theoretical physicists throughout the world, is the background to everything that surrounds us, including all life on our planet. It is worth observing, too, that the continued expansion of the universe has been accompanied in recent times by another type of expansion, that of cosmological ideas, concepts and their bearers during the last years of the Soviet Union to the rest of the world, from East to West. Andrei Barvinsky will survey the history of quantum gravity and cosmology in Russia during that period, which coincided with the advent of what is now called cosmological inflation theory. He will also discuss conceptual issues surrounding the quantum origin of our universe, contrasting two opposing scenarios, “the birth from nothing” versus “the birth from everything.” Lastly, he will touch on the issue of mathematical beauty in physics and nature.
After graduating from the Physics Department of Moscow State University, Andrei Barvinsky completed a PhD in theoretical physics in the field of quantum gravity theory. He subsequently held a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton. He is currently a scientific researcher at the Theory Department of the Lebedev Physics Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The areas of his scientific interests are quantum field theory, quantum gravity and cosmology, including, in particular, the theory of the quantum origin of the universe. He has more than one hundred publications and a number of pioneering contributions to the quantum theory of gauge constrained systems, the effective action method in quantum field theory and Higgs inflation theory in cosmology of the very early quantum universe. His teaching included supervision of many doctoral students and a professorship at the Ludwig-Maximillian University in Munich, Germany. His ongoing projects include collaboration with physicists of the Landau Institute for Theoretical Physics, the Physics Department of the Ludwig-Maximillian University in Munich, University of Cologne, Department of Physics and Astronomy of the University of British Columbia, the University of Bologna and the Theory Division of CERN. He is also co-organizer of the Sakharov and Ginzburg conferences on physics held for more than twenty years at the Theory Department of the Lebedev Physics Institute in Moscow. In addition, he is a member of editorial boards of the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics and the European Physical Journal.