Sergio Ferrara (born May 2, 1945) is an Italian physicist working on theoretical physics of elementary particles and mathematical physics. He is renowned for the discovery of theories introducing supersymmetry as a symmetry of elementary particles (super-Yang–Mills theories, together with Bruno Zumino) and of supergravity, the first significant extension of Einstein's general relativity, based on the principle of "local supersymmetry" (together with Daniel Z. Freedman, and Peter van Nieuwenhuizen). He is an emeritus staff member at CERN and a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Sergio Ferrara was born on 2 May 1945 in Rome, Italy. He graduated from the University of Rome, obtaining in 1968 the Laurea Degree (the highest Degree that was awarded in Italy at the time). Since then he has worked as a CNEN and INFN researcher at the Frascati National Laboratories; as a CNRS Visiting Scientist at the Laboratoire de Physique Théorique, École Normale Supérieure, Paris, and at the Theory Division at CERN, Geneva. In 1980 he was nominated Full Professor of theoretical physics in Italy. He became a staff member of the Theory Division at CERN in 1981. In 1985, he became a Professor of Physics at the University of California, Los Angeles. Since 1986 he has been a senior staff member of the Physics Department at CERN. During the years 2010-2014 he has been a Guest Professor at CERN as Principal Investigator of the European Research Council Advanced Grant SUPERFIELDS. He is currently a senior staff member, emeritus, at CERN.
In 1971–1975, Sergio Ferrara did pioneering work on Conformal Field Theory and the Conformal bootstrap. In a series of papers written in collaboration with Raoul Gatto, Aurelio Grillo and Giorgio Parisi, he studied constraints imposed by conformal symmetry on the operator dimensions, the form of the correlation functions, the operator product expansion, and the conformal partial wave expansion for the four-point correlation functions of the theory. This work, together with the similar work by Alexander Polyakov, laid the foundations of Conformal Field Theory.
In 1974, with Bruno Zumino, he formulated supersymmetric gauge theories, which opened the way to building supersymmetric extensions of the Standard Model of particle physics and exploring their consequences. This result was obtained independently by Abdus Salam and James Strathdee.
In 1976, Sergio Ferrara, Daniel Z. Freedman, and Peter van Nieuwenhuizen discovered Supergravity at Stony Brook University in New York. It was initially proposed as a four-dimensional theory. The theory of supergravity generalizes Einstein's general theory of relativity by incorporating the principles of supersymmetry. In 2019 the three were awarded a special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics of $3 million for the discovery.
In 1995, with Renata Kallosh and Andrew Strominger, he formulated the theory of Black Hole attractors, a dynamical mechanism which determines the Bekenstein-Hawking entropy for extremal Black-Holes in term of their charges.
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