Tom Banks (physicist)

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Tom Banks
Born (1949-04-19) April 19, 1949 (age 74)
Alma mater MIT
Known for M(atrix) Theory
Banks–Zaks fixed point
Scientific career
Fields Physics
Institutions Rutgers
University of California, Santa Cruz
Doctoral advisor Carl M. Bender
Doctoral students Lubos Motl

Thomas Israel Banks [1] (born April 19, [2] 1949 in New York City [3] ) is a theoretical physicist and professor at Rutgers University and University of California, Santa Cruz.



Banks' work centers around string theory and its applications to high energy particle physics and cosmology. He received his Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1973. In 1973-86 he was appointed at the Tel Aviv University, [4] he was several times a visiting scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (1976–78, 1983–84, and in the fall of 2010). [5]

Along with Willy Fischler, Stephen Shenker, and Leonard Susskind, he is one of the four originators of M(atrix) theory, or BFSS Matrix Theory, an attempt to formulate M theory in a nonperturbative manner. Banks proposed a conjecture known as Asymptotic Darkness - it posits that the physics above the Planck scale is dominated by black hole production. He has often criticized the widely held assumption in the string theory community that background spacetimes with different asymptotics can represent different vacua states of the same theory of quantum gravity. Rather, Banks argues that different asymptotics correspond to different models of quantum gravity. [6] Many of his arguments for this and other ideas are contained in his paper "A Critique of Pure String Theory: Heterodox Opinions of Diverse Dimensions." published in 2003. [7]


  1. "Physics Tree - Thomas Israel Banks". Retrieved 2022-11-20.
  2. American Men and Women of Science , 21st ed., 2009, p. 318.
  3. The Institute for Advanced Study. Annual Report 1983/84, p. 55.
  4. "CV" (PDF). Retrieved 2022-11-20.
  5. "Thomas Banks". Institute for Advanced Study. Retrieved 2018-12-25.
  6. Banks, Tom "TASI Lectures on Holographic Space-Time, SUSY and Gravitational Effective Field Theory", 2010, p. 9.
  7. Banks, Tom "A Critique of Pure String Theory: Heterodox Opinions of Diverse Dimensions.", 2003.

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