I would like to pursue my passion in math and physics and continue my research on the development of a theory that unifies all fundamental forces and matter: A grand unified field theory. While this sounds too far fetching for a 14-year-old, my aim is to do extensive work in M Theory and find a possible way for it to be combined with loop quantum gravity. If cosmologists could somehow witness the earliest point of the universe or see a naked singularity, they could easily harvest the quantum data to derive the theory of everything.
I am also interested in the geometry of higher dimensions and brane and bulk theory as a field of String Theory, which states that our three-dimensional universe is a brane in an 11 dimensional bulk, while alternatively other dimensions could also be curled in a Calabi Yau manifold. I am also interested in black holes and how they can be linked to white holes via wormholes, and how dark matter can be detected using xenon detectors. All these need a major foundation in math. I shall, therefore, be surely using, working and breathing, mathematics in my career.
OVERVIEW AND RESEARCH GOALS
♦ Quantum mechanics and String Theory:
Quantum mechanics, the realm of subatomic mystery is where multiple regions of mathematics intersect. My research interest lies in giving a more geometrical interpretation to quantum field theory, specifically describing strings from a topological point of view, with extensive work in particle phenomenology and super symmetry. This is just one aspect of my research interest in String Theory.
Much before the advent of M-Theory, the five known versions of String Theory were all perturbative, meaning they broke down in some regimes. However, it was later realized that those perturbative String Theories fit together into a coherent non-perturbative theory, known as M-Theory, which is the most complete and consistent description of reality that we have today. My research in M-Theory is to study how the mechanism of extra dimensions can combine these multiple theories. My aim is also to focus on extending M-theory to remove black hole singularities from it, and thereby reconcile those singularities.
M-theory uses the idea that our universe is a brane comprising our familiar three dimensions situated in an 11 dimensional bulk. I am keen on solving the exact geometry or shape of the higher dimensions in this brane world interpretation. For example, one can represent the second dimension using a square, the third dimension using a cube, the fourth dimension using a tesseract/hypercube, and so on. I would like to work out the representative shapes of all the higher dimensions within M-Theory. These constructs will inevitably be made of strings and hence, an in depth look into the geometry of strings themselves will be crucial.
Calabi-Yau manifolds, another method of depicting extra dimensions, also fascinates me. When String Theory was first described, no extra dimensions were observed. It was proposed that those extra dimensions were perhaps curled up in Calabi-Yau manifolds. There are currently 10500 versions of the Calabi-Yau manifold and only one can fit our universe and our observations. I would like to research the possibility of reducing the number of models of those Calabi-Yau manifolds. The solutions to this problem include topology, by comparing the genus or other topological properties of the candidates, and the derived properties with those we see in our world.
♦ Black holes, white holes and wormholes:
I am also interested in black holes and how they can be linked to white holes via wormholes. In 1916, Austrian physicist Ludwig Flamm, while looking over German physicist and astronomer Karl Schwarzschild’s solution to Albert Einstein’s field equations — one that describes a form of black hole known as a Schwarzschild Black Hole — noticed that an alternate solution was possible, which described a phenomenon later known as the white hole. A white hole is the theoretical time reversal of a black hole and, while a black hole acts as a vacuum drawing in any matter that crosses the event horizon, a white hole acts as a source that ejects matter from its event horizon. My goal is to prove or disprove the idea that there is a white hole on the ‘other side’ of all black holes, where all the matter that the black hole sucks up, is violently emitted in some alternative universe, and even that what we think of as the Big Bang might in fact have been the result of such a phenomenon. This proof requires an intense study of general relativity and all solutions to Einstein’s field equations.
My research interest in wormholes is more specifically on how to detect them. It has led me to the following argument that there must obviously be two opposing forces: One force is the repulsive gravity that expands the wormhole, while the other is the ordinary attractive gravity seeking to collapse the wormhole. In the end, however, all wormholes must collapse and as a result, one might predict (this is my hypothesis) that the exotic matter in wormholes will eventually decay to form a much more familiar matter, which may cause the wormhole to collapse and thus space time in the collapsed region will be heavily distorted causing the emission of gravitational waves. In other words, if one could observe gravitational waves radiation from a point where there are no obvious sources, such as black holes or neutron stars, it could be a distinct hint of the collapse of a wormhole. My research in wormholes will be backed by a deep understanding of Riemann geometry, as geometry on concave metrics could describe how space acts inside wormholes.
♦ Dark matter and solar system formation:
One of the other areas of research is dark matter, which appears to be an entirely new kind of particle that has mass, and therefore, gravity. My goal is to evaluate the potential of an experiment that utilizes the idea that dark matter might be a weakly interacting massive particle, and thus also interacts using the weak force. Similar detectors already exist, but more are needed to increase the chances of a collision. This is where the cost feasibility comes in. There are several types of neutrino detectors that could be used, each with different advantages such as distance between collision targets, or disadvantages such as the effect of temperature and radiation as interference on these detectors. I propose that direct detection experiments should solely rely on the fact that rare weak interactions can occasionally allow a dark matter particle to bump into the nucleus of an atom. In such experiments, tanks filled with inert materials such as xenon would be placed deep underground, shielded away from cosmic rays. Sensitive detectors would watch for tiny displacements of individual nuclei that might signal a collision. Detectors such LUX Dark Matter Collaboration utilize some of these principles and are useful due to their cost effectiveness, as other detectors such as the ice cube neutrino observatory are far more expensive to build. Nonetheless, I believe more detectors like LUX Dark Matter will be needed for accurate detection.
I am also working on how dark matter affects solar system formation. Dark matter is negligible on solar system scales. However, my hypothesis is that dark matter affects the distribution and relative positions of stars in a galaxy to a massive extent. This means that the distribution of dark matter might affect the position of a star relative to the habitable zone in a galaxy. A galaxy has a habitable zone that is nearer the rim and is outside the reach of most supernova and gamma ray burst events. This research may narrow down the candidates for habitable exoplanets and give a much more accurate map of the habitable zone in a galaxy.
PAST RESEARCH SUBSTANTIATING MY FUTURE GOALS
♦ Astronomy, mathematics and QGIS:
In summer 2018, at 13, I completed Brown University’s Pre-College Immersion in STEM II program titled: The Grand Tour: Our Solar System Up Close and Personal, where I used NASA data collected via spacecraft, rovers, and astronauts, to work as a team on a group project titled, Mars 2020 Rover Mission.
The two-week course at Brown, which required a greater understanding of higher math, gave me a platform to conduct an in-depth research on the Mars 2020 Rover Mission. Throughout the course, I not just solved problems, but was also able to scientifically establish, along with my team, that this landing mission could be one of the most exciting space exploration missions of our time.
The goals of this mission include: Characterize geologic history of the site with ‘astrobiologically-relevant ancient environment and geologic diversity’, assess the habitability ‘and potential evidence of past life’ in units with ‘high bio-signature preservation potential’ and cache scientifically compelling samples for potential return to Earth. On early Earth, it is hypothesized that before what we knew as life, there were simple strands of RNA codes that could both replicate and act as proteins. Only later on did the specialized storage molecules of DNA were used and proteins took up much of the RNA’s previous functions. Such simple molecules similar to RNA may be a major indicator that life was evolving from inorganic pieces of code to life-forms on Mars if found.
After substantial research, my team and I picked up Jezero Crater as the best option for the landing mission. With a diameter of 45km, Jezero tells a story of the inconsistent nature of the wet past of Mars. Water filled and drained away from the crater on at least two occasions. More than 3.5 billion years ago, river channels spilled over the crater wall and created a lake. Scientists see evidence that water carried iron-magnesium smectite clay minerals from the surrounding area into the crater after the lake dried up. Conceivably, microbial life could have lived in Jezero during one or more of these wet times. If so, signs of their remains might be found in lakebed sediments.
My research proved that Jezero offers even more promise: Most of Mars’ atmosphere has been destroyed by the Sun’s solar wind and Mars’ lack of a magnetic field. Hence, most organic substances must have been destroyed by the cosmic rays on most places of the red planet. However, due to Jezero’s river, sediment layers must have formed on the bottom of the crater. This means organic substances must have been shielded by layers of young sediments and clays. Hence, even if we see no molecules, it still stands out that the layers along with the clay-rich fluvial-sediments and water (3.8 billion years ago) must have been perfect conditions for fossilization, as they create similar conditions to large mud flats on earth where fossilization is highly likely for a body. Even if bacteria are not seen, the organic compounds such as sugars, phosphates or other indicators must have definitely been preserved in the sediments.
Using QGIS software, innumerable data and calculations, the elevation map and QGIS images, I perceived that water flowed into Jezero to form a basin or delta before leaving the crater. This is a confirmation of the fact that water does indeed flow through this area. Moreover, the crater is at an angle of 30° elevation. This means molecules and substances are in motion and, therefore, have a higher chance to collide and form organic molecules or building blocks. The angle of elevation also means that sediments can slowly settle down to from fossils. If the mission goes according to the plan, then the rover should land in the target circle.
According to my research, it should then travel upwards towards a fossilized delta. This is the most promising site for sample and sediment collection. This part would also be useful for geological studies as here there are clay deposits that will give us major answers to the presence of water on Mars and, thereby, life. The rover will then move down to the bottom of the crater to search for more sediments, as this is where they are most settled. The sides of the crater will also be explored and changes will be made depending on the landing site. This research at Brown was highly fruitful and if the mission follows this way, we may learn a lot more about our red, cold but possibly habitable neighbor.
My hands-on experience with real data, analytical methods such as satellite imagery and the use of past and present planetary missions as my lens, helped me finally to present a much-applauded paper titled: What does Mission 2020 expect to find from target Jezero? What makes this crater so desirable? I also conducted a range of laboratory experiments, including impact cratering into slabs of various materials and collected spectra of rocks and minerals. This pre-university course was my tiny step towards my dream of becoming an astrophysicist. I not only learnt how to research extensively on rovers and astronauts, conduct rover-based sample analysis, computer modeling and crater counting, but I also mastered the GIS mapping software, geologic processes like volcanism, impact cratering, tectonics and the complexities of the solar system and planet formation.
♦ Mathematics, Theoretical Physics, String Theory and Black Holes
At 13, I was declared as the World Science Scholar 2018, the first and only person from the Middle East and Africa, along with 45 exceptional under-18 mathematicians in the world. Under the World Science Scholar, I have just completed my first course titled Beyond the Cloud of Everyday Experience: A Course on Physics and Reality, under Prof Brian Greene, Professor of Physics and Mathematics at Columbia University, and achieved 98 per cent (topping the entire 2018 cohort), which has served as a solid foundation for my future studies in special relativity, general relativity, and quantum mechanics. The course delved deep into the topologies behind Calabi-Yau manifolds, especially where the nature of extra dimensions was involved. It also focuses on wormholes and other extreme situations of space time warping, Hawking radiation, virtual particle creation, positive and negative matter, etc. Under Prof Greene, I have completed several projects, titled, Deriving the Speed of Light, Deriving E=mc2, Einstein’s Happiest Thought, Finding Quantum Wavelength, and Finding Position Uncertainty.
As a World Science Scholar I am currently doing my second course titled, A Beautiful Universe: Black Holes, String Theory, and the Laws of Nature as Mathematical Puzzles under Prof Cumrun Vafa, Hollis Professor of Mathematicks and Natural Philosophy, Professor of Physics at Harvard University. The course focuses not just on math and physics, but also on partition function, black hole thermodynamics, role of symmetries (and their breaking) in physical theories such as string theory, etc. One of the core topics also include identifying an area to which an integer partition function may apply. I am working on the partition theory of numbers that might be used to describe the probability distribution of the ground state for a Bose-Einstein condensate. In a Bose-Einstein condensate, the substance is cooled to a point where the spins of the particles become integer spin numbers. Since bosons have integer spin numbers, the particle’s act like bosons and no longer obey the Pauli-Exclusion principle. This means that the electrons all fall to the lowest energy level or ground state. My question is, therefore, couldn’t the partition theory describe the probability distribution of energies of each of the energy levels around the nucleus? If one can use partitions to find the values of each energy level, wouldn’t it become much easier to find the ground state for each element and thus make simulations of Bose-Einstein condensates much more accurate?
Being a World Science Scholar, I am also studying university-level math content over and above pre-calculus, calculus, advanced algebra, topology, graph theory, etc, and doing courses that are immersive, dynamic, and interactive. I am also participating in core lectures by world-renowned experts and using an extensive array of online resources. In total, I shall be doing 16 courses as a World Science Scholar, some of which are, Algorithm Analysis and Design; Cognitive Neuroimaging; Essentials of Game Theory; Essentials of Graph Theory; Essentials of Probability and Stochastic Processes; Multi-objective Optimization; Probabilities in the Universe; Quantitative Finance; Quantum Reality; Quantum Theory and Applications; Computational Chemistry; Computational Epidemiology; Digital Signal Processes; Evolutionary Ecology; Transport and Communication Geography, etc. I shall also be brainstorming on a group project, wherein collaborative learning experiences will allow me to examine how applied mathematics can help solve some of the world’s greatest challenges.
I have given several lectures on theoretical physics, astrophysics and mathematics, some of which include topics like Time Crystals, Supernovae and stellar fusion, etc, at the Dubai College STEM Talks Society.
My love for astrophysics encouraged me to complete a course titled Super-Earths and Life under Dr Dimitar Sasselov, Professor of Astronomy, Harvard University, at the age of 13. I scored 92%. The course delved deep in to the habitable zone on a solar system level, and helped me master both galactic and solar habitable zones.
I also completed a credit-based proctored program titled Introduction to Solar Systems Astronomy from Arizona State University under Professor Frank Timmes, School of Earth and Space Exploration. I achieved 94% in total and earned university credits. The course focused on solar system formation in galactic regions and the effect of cosmic rays and dark matter on habitability.
♦ Genetics and astrophysics:
My latest paper is on how long‐term space missions can cause lung cancer. How hazardous can cosmic radiation be on the most mutated genes in adenocarcinomas? It is well known that while cancer is one of the leading causes of death (8.2 million in 2012), lung cancer is the second most common cancer worldwide. With 1.59 million deaths in 2012 and a mere five per cent survival rate, one out of every four cancer deaths is from lung cancer. Considering a six‐month mission to the International Space Station, moon or beyond exposes astronauts to 50 to 2,000 mSv of radiation (high energy charged particles or HZE), long‐term space travel poses significant risk of complex DNA damage or cancer. My question is to what extent can HZE induce lung cancer in astronauts? How hazardous can galactic radiation be on the two most mutated genes in adenocarcinomas: TP53 (encodes tumor suppressor p53) and oncogene Kras? Under what conditions can p53 tumor suppressor regulate HZE ion‐induced lung carcinogenesis?
My current research includes Middle East Cretaceous marine invertebrates and late Miocene Arabian continental vertebrate fossils. The three areas of importance in the UAE (my current resident nation) are the Western Region of Abu Dhabi, the slopes of Jebel Hafit and the eastern mountains. Ongoing research says that fossils in the eastern mountains were formed during the Cretaceous Period, 70 million years ago, when a shallow warm sea lapped against the uplifted Hajar islands. The limestone formed in this period is called the Simsima Formation. The best exposures are found at Jebel Huwayyah — known as Fossil Valley, Jebel Rawdah, Jebel Buhays and Qarn Murrah. Various fragments of poorly preserved corals, sponges, algae and bivalves can be found in these regions. I am set to launch a paleontology dig in these areas at the earliest and am awaiting government funding for the same.
♦ Radioactivity and nuclear waste:
As my interest in paleontology grew, so did my understanding of evolution and resultant mutations of creatures that were subjected to radioactivity and nuclear waste. This led me to research on how the primary source of radioactive waste is from human activities such as radioactive fallout at nuclear power plants, nuclear testing and more importantly, improper disposal of nuclear, radioactive and hazardous waste.
According to my findings, research on prehistoric mass extinctions and human-made nuclear disasters have proved that uncontrolled radioactivity and nuclear waste disposal (spent fuel) can hurt marine and land species in several ways — by killing them outright or critically altering the genetics of these species — thereby creating irreparable bizarre mutations in their offspring or worse, passing radioactive material up the food chain. In fact, the worst effect of radioactive and nuclear waste is when animals eat irradiated plants and smaller, radioactive animals. It is then that radiation moves up the food chain.
I believe that all available forms of energy will be needed to meet future demand and that each country must enforce suitable means to deliver safe, reliable and feasible electricity to power economic growth. However, my thrust is to first determine a long-term disposal of spent nuclear fuel. I want a different solution: Rather than sending spent fuel abroad for recycling or disposal, we should harness the boundless potential that freshwater green algae have in removing radioactive isotopes like Strontium 90 from spent fuel. This research is of significant value to help clean up a significant amount of nuclear waste.
The most common radioactive isotopes in spent nuclear fuel are strontium 90 and cesium 137.
Strontium-90 is a radioactive by-product of fission reactions within nuclear reactors that generate electricity. Because of its high decay energy and its long half-life of 30 years — it takes hundreds of years to decay to harmless levels — strontium-90 is classified a high-level waste. Chemically, Strontium-90 is very much like calcium, and thus builds up in bones, and because of its radioactive properties, its exposure from contaminated food and water is known to have caused bone tumors, cancer and leukemia. Common freshwater green algae have the ability to separate strontium and barium and sequester strontium into insoluble crystals, offering a possible way to separate strontium-90 from less hazardous components of nuclear waste, thereby providing an eco-friendly solution to this problem. The algae could also be genetically altered to take on other radioactive substances such as cesium 137.
Closterium moniliferum, a ubiquitous bright green pond alga, forms crystals composed of strontium, barium, and sulfate. The crescent-shaped algae store the strontium crystals in tiny vacuoles. Barium is necessary for the organism to deposit strontium, and varying the ratio of barium to strontium in water boosts the amount of strontium captured in crystals by a factor of up to 150. This enhances the strontium selectivity of the process.
C. moniliferum also prefers strontium to calcium. This is important because calcium, a harmless mineral, is found in nuclear waste along with strontium. Plants for bioremediation do not differentiate between strontium and calcium, so they become saturated with the calcium simply because it is more abundant in nuclear waste. But C. moniliferum does differentiate. This problem is avoided by the algae actively excreting calcium during crystal formation. Understanding that algae could potentially become direct bioremediation agents and how they lock up strontium could lead to better engineered microbes.
My book titled Planet Radioactive: A Mutant World: Impact of Nuclear Waste on Marine and Land Species, which took over five years of rigorous research — from the age of eight to 13 — to finish, is a scientific study on this, offering an environment-friendly solution to disposing radioactive waste in the right way.
Keeping in perspective most nations’ nuclear dreams, including the upcoming Barakah nuclear power plant (the UAE’s first nuclear power station), I feel that safe disposal of spent fuel is crucial. It is here that my research adds value as it offers a permanent solution to this critical crisis and paves the way for harnessing the power of clean energy. On top of so many environmental problems the last thing this world needs right now is to worry about the safety of nuclear waste disposal. We, therefore, need to quickly resolve the nuclear waste issue because it wouldn’t be morally right to leave it for our future generations. I am also currently writing a paper on this. The link below will give you a tiny glimpse of what my project is all about:
My main focus is on the unique characteristics that some reptiles and amphibians have — re-growing lost limbs. If any crossing using Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats or CRISPR can be done to selective human DNA strands, then perhaps we may have a breakthrough on re-growing human limbs or even organs. I have published articles and have given several lectures on this subject, the last one being on Dubai College Science Day in November 2017.
Just to sum up, my favorite parts of math are nonlinear geometry, matrices, complex numbers, topology, calculus, advanced algebra, etc, and how these can significantly link scientific disciplines. My passion is to apply mathematics to physics for making the world an incredible place for research and help spark future scientific inventions and breakthroughs.