Sean CarrollTheoretical Physics and Astrophysics
Walter Burke Institute for Theoretical Physics
Division of Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy
California Institute of Technology
I'm a theoretical physicist at Caltech in sunny Pasadena, California. I do research on theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, gravitation, and quantum mechanics. I want to learn about fundamental physics by studying the structure and evolution of the universe. These days I'm especially interested in inflation, the arrow of time, and how quantum mechanics intersects with cosmology. I've done work on dark matter and dark energy, modified gravity, topological defects, extra dimensions, and violations of fundamental symmetries. See my research page for more details.
I've written a couple of popular-level books: From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time, and The Particle at the End of the Universe: How the Hunt for the Higgs Boson Leads Us to the Edge of a New World. I also wrote a graduate textbook, Spacetime and Geometry: An Introduction to General Relativity, and recorded lectures for the Teaching Company on Dark Matter and Dark Energy and the Mysteries of Time. I started blogging back in 2004, and keep it up to this day.
In addition to theoretical physics and book-writing, there are a bunch of other things I'm interested in, somewhat haphazardly collected on my activities page. If you'd like more details, see writings, talks or videos.
Extending tentacles into other social networks and internet phenomena:
In the picture on the upper right I'm joined by my lovely wife Jennifer Ouellette. That photo was taken in Downtown LA by my Mom; the monochromatic one on the front page is by Ken Weingart. The clock image on the top banner is from the Mechanical Clock screensaver by 3planesoft.
Some interviews and articles from here and there.
Stuffy Official Bio
Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology. He received his Ph.D. in 1993 from Harvard University. His research focuses on fundamental physics and cosmology, especially issues of dark matter, dark energy, spacetime symmetries, and the origin of the universe. Recently, Carroll has worked on the foundations of quantum mechanics, the arrow of time, and the emergence of complexity. Carroll is the author of The Particle at the End of the Universe, From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time, and Spacetime and Geometry: An Introduction to General Relativity. He has been awarded prizes and fellowships by the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Sloan Foundation, the Packard Foundation, the American Physical Society, the American Institute of Physics, and the Royal Society of London. Carroll has appeared on TV shows such as The Colbert Report, PBS's NOVA, and Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, and frequently serves as a science consultant for film and television. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, writer Jennifer Ouellette.
Here are some representative research papers:
- C.T. Sebens and S.M. Carroll, 2014, Self-Locating Uncertainty and the Origin of Probability in Everettian Quantum Mechanics.
- K.K. Boddy, S.M. Carroll, and J. Pollack, 2014, De Sitter Space Without Quantum Fluctuations.
- S.M. Carroll, S. Leichenauer, and J. Pollack, 2013, A Consistent Effective Theory of Long-Wavelength Cosmological Perturbations.
- L. Ackerman, M.R. Buckley, S.M. Carroll, and M. Kamionkowski, 2008, Dark Matter and Dark Radiation.
- S.M. Carroll and J. Chen, 2004, Spontaneous Inflation and the Origin of the Arrow of Time.
- S.M. Carroll, V. Duvvuri, M.S. Turner, and M. Trodden, 2003, Is Cosmic Speed-Up Due to New Gravitational Physics?
- S.M. Carroll, M. Hoffman, and M. Trodden, 2003, Can the Dark Energy Equation-of-State Parameter w be Less Than -1?
- S.M. Carroll, 1998, Quintessence and the Rest of the World.
- S.M. Carroll, E. Farhi, A.H. Guth and K.D. Olum, 1994, Energy-Momentum Restrictions on the Creation of Gott Time Machines.
- S.M. Carroll, G.B. Field and R. Jackiw, 1990, Limits on A Lorentz and Parity-Violating Modification of Electrodynamics.
Plenty more listed on my CV.
Until Fall 2006 I was on the faculty of the Physics Department and Enrico Fermi Institute of the University of Chicago. Before that I was a postdoc at the Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California in Santa Barbara, a postdoc at the Center for Theoretical Physics at MIT, a graduate student at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and an undergraduate at the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Villanova University. Before even that I attended Pennsbury High School, where my partner Bill Koehler and I came in second place in the state debate championships on a highly controversial 3-2 decision. Still haven't quite gotten over that.
To figure out where I might be in the future, check my schedule under activities.
My mailing address is:
Department of Physics, Caltech 452-48
1200 East California Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 91125
Office: 626/395-6830, Fax: 626/568-8473
By far the best way to reach me is by email: seancarrollatgmaildotcom, suitably decoded. I usually don't even pick up my phone, so there's not much point in calling.
I love giving talks to all sorts of audiences. Unfortunately, my schedule doesn't allow me to do nearly as much traveling as I might like to. If you'd like to book a talk, you should contact the BrightSight Group, who handles my speaking engagements. Their email is info[at]brightsightgroup.com, or call (609) 924-3060.
If you are interested in becoming a student or postdoc at Caltech, please feel free to contact me by email. I am happy to talk about Caltech, although the actual application process is fairly formalized, depending on what you're applying to be:
Unfortunately, I am not able to help with questions about physics, theories of the universe, and so on. There just isn't enough time. I recommend checking out one of the various online discussion forums devoted to that kind of thing:
- Quora: http://www.quora.com/Physics
- Physics Stack Exchange: http://physics.stackexchange.com/
- Physics Forums: http://www.physicsforums.com/
- PhysForum: http://www.physforum.com/
- PhysicsGRE.com: http://www.physicsgre.com/
Unsolicited compliments, on the other hand, are always welcomed.