Theodore A. (Ted) Jacobson

Gravitation Theory Group

Department of Physics, University of Maryland, College Park

Basic Info:

  • Title: Professor of Physics
  • Address: Department of Physics, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742-4111
  • Phone: 301-405-6020 (office), 301-270-0078 (home)
  • Fax: 301-314-9525
  • E-mail:

  • Public talk: Relativity, Time and Black Holes, with Questions & Answers 


    In the broadest sense most of my research is driven by the desire to understand the fundamental nature of spacetime. I feel that the continuum model is an unphysical idealization, and I suspect that there are in fact only a finite number of degrees of freedom in any finite volume. It seems difficult to reconcile this hypothesis with local Lorentz invariance, and with ordinary unitary quantum theory (since the metric is dynamical, and in particular the volume of the universe is currently increasing). I hope these difficulties are hints, rather than signs that the idea is wrong. The question whether discreteness can be reconciled with the existence of Hawking radiation was one subject of much of my work from 1990 to 1999. The answer seems to be yes.

    I am presently pursuing several research strategies:

    #  observational consequences and constraints on Lorentz symmetry violation that might presumably be induced by spacetime substructure, in

        + high energy astroparticle physics

        + gravitational theory with a preferred rest frame field

    #  analogies with effective field theory of condensed matter physics

    #  black hole (& more generally horizon) thermodynamics as a possible guiding light

    #  construction of model discrete substitutes for quantum field theory, with irregular microtopology flexible enough to allow creation of degrees of freedom  (as in cosmological expansion).

    A list and links to my publications can be found in the Spires Database.


    Intermediate Theoretical Methods: Phys 374, Spring 2006

    Intro. Mechanics: Phys 171, Spring 2001,  Phys 171, Spring 2002, Phys 171, Spring 2003
    Intro. Oscillations and Waves:  Phys 273, Fall 2000Phys 273, Fall 2001Phys 273, Fall 2002

    Quantum Mechanics: Syllabi, supplemental handouts, homework sets, and exams for Quantum Mechanics I (Phys 622, Spring 1998, Phys 622, Fall 1999) and II (Phys 623, Fall 1997, Phys 623, Fall 1998, Phys 623, Spring 2000) are available here as postscript files.

    Intro. Relativity, Gravitation and Cosmology: Phys 675, Fall 2004, Phys 675, Fall 2005

    Gravitation Theory: Phys 776, Spring 2003, Phys 776, Spring 2005 (black hole thermodynamics)

    Several files are available here:
    A Spacetime Primer (41 pages, pdf) consisting of incomplete notes on introductory concepts of general and special relativity (in that order), with the figures now available;
    Introductory Lectures on Black Hole Thermodynamics (68 pages, postscript);
    Black holes: inside and out (3 pages, postscript), some notes for a talk to beginning graduate students.

    Foundations and Frontiers of Physics: graduate seminar series


    Gravitation theory group at UMD            Group seminars

    Department of Physics at UMD

    University of Maryland

    Last updated: 20 September 2005