Early Years and Education
I was born and spent most of my childhood in Uruguay. Later my family moved to Brazil where I lived and studied until my mid-twenties.
My education includes a BS and MS degrees in physics from the Universidade Estadual de Campinas (Unicamp, Brazil, 1979) and a PhD degree in physics from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech, 1985).
After graduation I held a postdoc at the University of Utah (1985-1987), I joined the faculty of the Instituto de Física, Unicamp, as an assistant professor (1987-1991), and I was Visiting Scientist at NIST, the National Institute for Standards and Technology (1990-1992). In 1992 I joined the physics faculty of the University at Albany.
I have a strong interest in teaching and have devoted a considerable effort to teaching at all levels, including mentoring PhD students. I received the University at Albany’s Excellence in Teaching and Advising Award and the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.
My early research interests were in x-ray optics, particularly in the diffraction of x rays by perfect crystals for Bragg angles close to π/2, and on how the presence of a crystal medium affects the generation of x rays which results in the remarkable phenomena of transition-diffracted radiation and the Cerenkov effect for x-rays. My training at Caltech was in quantum field theory with a PhD thesis on the renormalization group, a topic that continues to capture my interest.
Over the years, however, my interests have drifted towards more fundamental physics focusing on the connection between physics and information. Briefly, the idea is pragmatic: we shall consider physics as a set of models involving tools designed for making probabilistic inferences about reality, rather than theories that provide a direct representation of reality.
The development of such an Entropic Physics required extended research in the study and development of Bayesian and entropic methods in order to clarify the meaning and interpretation of the concepts of probability, of information, and of entropy.
Those studies resulted in a set of tools that allow us to revisit the foundations of statistical mechanics (mostly inspired by the pioneering work of E. T. Jaynes), and of quantum mechanics, quantum field theory, and general relativity. The outcomes look promising. We have an alternative approach to the derivation and interpretation of quantum mechanics as an entropic dynamics of probabilities that strongly relies on concepts of symplectic and information geometry. This approach provides ontological clarity—a clear distinction of the ontic or epistemic nature of the various observables, beables, and inferables that pervade QM. It has led to new insights into the nature of time, the linearity of QM, the need for complex numbers, the quantum measurement problem, and of the very geometrical nature of QM. In short, it brings the theories of quantum mechanics and general relativity closer together.
Many people have contributed directly and indirectly to this program. Most of all I would like to recognize my students who, beyond supplying me with many right answers, so often asked the questions and expressed the doubts that pointed the way towards clarifying my own questions and doubts.