Valerio Faraoni earned a BSc in Physics (Laurea in Fisica) at the University of Pavia, Italy, and an MSc and PhD (1991) in Astrophysics under the supervision of Prof. George F.R. Ellis at the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy (https://www.sissa.it). He has held various research and teaching appointments at the University of Victoria, B.C., the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Pune, India, the Free University of Brussels, Belgium, and the University of Northern British Columbia. He came to Bishop’s University in 2005, where he is currently a Professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy.
Paper, pencil, and coffee cup
Theoretical cosmology studies the dynamics, origin, evolution, and fate of the universe, and the formation of structures (galaxies, galaxy clusters, and superclusters) in it. In 1998 it was discovered, by studying distant supernovae, that the expansion of the universe is accelerated. Many theoretical models have been proposed in order to explain this shocking discovery and they mostly fall into two classes: dark energy and modified gravity. Dark energy models assume that Einstein’s theory of gravity (general relativity) is valid and that a mysterious form of dark energy of unknown nature permeates the universe and makes up 70% of its energy content. This dark energy must necessarily have exotic properties, such as a very negative pressure. The second class of models, modified gravity, does not require exotic dark energy but instead modifies Einstein’s relativity with corrections that only affect large (cosmological) scales. Small corrections to general relativity are also expected from virtually any attempt to reconcile it with quantum mechanics.
Dr. Faraoni’s research explores both classes of models, but especially modified gravity, trying to fully understand their dynamics, explain the cosmic acceleration, develop models that are theoretically consistent and compatible with available experiments, study their predictions (e.g., will the universe accelerate forever? Will it end in a Big Rip?) and related issues such as tests of gravity, the production of gravitational waves, or analytical solutions describing universes and local objects embedded in them in various theories of gravity. Long term goals include the development of the correct theory of gravity (it is possible that departures from Einstein’s gravity are unobservable at the small Solar System scales but are already observed in the cosmic acceleration), finding out if dark energy actually exists and, if so, determining precisely its strange properties, understanding the early universe and obtaining information, otherwise inaccessible on Earth, on the high energy physics that left an imprint in the cosmic microwave background and in the distribution of galaxies and galaxy clusters.
Other interests include the study of black holes embedded in a cosmological background, foundations and possible violations of the Equivalence Principle (the basis of relativistic gravity) in high energy physics, and the thermodynamics of spacetime.
Dr. Faraoni collaborates with many researchers worldwide on the subjects above.
As side interests, Dr. Faraoni has worked a little on the modelling of alpine glaciers and ice caps, equilibrium beach profiles, formal analogies between different areas of physics, and physics education (curriculum).
Details on his research and an up-to-date list of publications can be found on Google Scholar.
Gravity, general relativity, cosmology, alternative theories of gravity