Interview with Florian Kühnel

Today we publish an interview with one OKC fellow who joined us early this year to work in the Theory group.

Florian Kühnel
Can you tell us a bit of yourself? Where are you from?
I could start with: “It was a warm summer evening in ancient Greece…” (cit.) 😉
But let’s say: I am 32-years-old German, born and raised in a lovely region of North Rhine-Westphalia, called Lippe. I knew quite early in my life that I would like to be a theoretical physicist, which – with studies at Bielefeld University & École normale supérieure in Paris, work at the LMU in Munich as a postdoc, and now at the Oskar-Klein Centre – worked quite well so far… Besides my professional activities, and if time permits, I very much enjoy (full-frame) photography, writing poems, playing the blues harmonica, and dancing Tango Argentino; Oh, and not to forget my passion for good food… :-)

Where did you study before?
I studied physics at Bielefeld University, with an Intermezzo at École normale supérieure in Paris where I worked on my Diploma thesis (equiv. to MSc. thesis) in the field of condensed matter physics – more specifically, I worked on disordered systems. Then, I changed to cosmology, where I have been fruitfully able to apply condensed-matter methods.

What is your field of research? Can you describe your project?
As I have looked into quite different areas of physics, my fields of research are also diverse. As mentioned above, I worked on disordered systems, in particular on their treatment with replica field theory and functional renormalization-group techniques. These methods were then very successfully applied by me to stochastic inflation. I am also interested in cosmological perturbation theory, extra-dimensions as well as modified & analogue gravity. At the moment, amongst others, I am working on the latter, which ties up with recent ideas to understand black holes as Bose-Einstein condensates of gravitons. Therein, I am particularly studying intrinsic analogue black holes and their stability in arbitrary dimensions.

How did you get to know about the Oskar Klein Centre?
The OKC is such a great and very well-known research institution, that I have been aware of it for a pretty long time. Furthermore, a while ago I participated in a workshop at Nordita, which is just “around the corner”.

Why did you chose to join the OKC?
When, after about a year ago, the offer from Lars Bergström for a postdoctoral position at the OKC came, I knew that this was THE offer. As I said, the OKC is at the very top, has excellent researchers, and a great atmosphere. The building is the nicest physics building I have ever been to, and I have a great traveling budget, which allows me to come a lot around, to share my ideas, get connections and start new exiting projects. Last but not least, the institute is located in Stockholm, which is one of my favorite cities.

What are the plans for these years in Stockholm?
I plan to work e.g. with Fawad Hassan and collaborators on aspects of bi-metric theories. Furthermore, we just initiated a working group on inflation, related to the Starobinski model, again with Fawad, but also with Bo Sundborg and Lars Bergström from which concrete projects might emerge. Of course, I have other ideas in mind – also concerning stochastic inflation and axions & extra-dimensions – but I would like to wait to see their developments before sharing them.

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