The Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) is one of more than 80 research institutes of the Max Planck Society. The Institute was established to pursue research in gravitational physics, especially general relativity and quantum gravity. General relativity is the theory of gravity devised by Albert Einstein (picture: 1929 by Lotte Jacobi); its many successful predictions concerning black holes, gravitational waves, gravitational lensing, and the Big Bang have made it a standard tool of astronomers in their attempts to describe the observed universe. Much work in theoretical physics today is directed at generalizing this theory to include the quantum effects that are known to be necessary to describe elementary particles, and which are believed to be necessary as well to describe the inside of a black hole and the details of the Big Bang. The aim is to develop a quantum theory of gravity that goes beyond general relativity and explains the relationship between gravity and the other forces of physics, such as electromagnetism and the nuclear force.
An active program of research across the spectrum of gravitational physics is pursued at the Institute. Its research is organized into three divisions, each of which addresses a particular subject: geometric analysis and gravitation astrophysical relativity and quantum gravity and unified theories. Scientific activity is not confined just to these areas, however, and much of the work crosses boundaries between divisions. In pursuing its research the Institute supports large-scale computer calculations, both in-house and in collaboration with other groups, and it participates in a number of international projects, such as the GEO600 and LISA gravitational-wave detectors. The Institute also participates as a node in an EU Network on integrable quantum field theory.
The Institute began operating on 1 April 1995 in temporary quarters in an office building located in Potsdam-Babelsberg. A short distance from Berlin, Potsdam is a historical city which has many personal associations with Einstein and with research in gravitational physics. In April 1999, the Institute moved to a custom-built campus in Golm, near Potsdam (aerial picture by Lutz Hannemann). Here the Institute is joined by two further Max Planck Institutes. Starting from an initial staff of about 10 scientists, the Institute today has approximately 30 full-time scientists. They are supplemented, through a generous visitor program, by around 150 visiting scientists each year. A number of diploma and PhD students are also supervised at the Institute in general relativity, quantum gravity, and related fields.
The Institute is publishing a new kind of electronic journal on the World-Wide Web. Called Living Reviews in Relativity, it contains refereed reviews in all areas of relativity. Its unique feature is that it continually revises its review articles to keep them up-to-date, so that scientists who consult the journal can be assured of a timely picture of the field. This accounts for the word "Living" in the journal´s title. Articles are written by invited experts, who critically review work in the field covered by the article. The Journal takes full advantage of the Web, providing active links to relevant resources where possible and including colour images and movies. Living Reviews in Relativity went online on 26 January 1998 and is offered as a free service to the scientific community.
Since the opening of the institute, a strong reference library has been built up. The Institute´s computer resources are among the best in the world for this kind of research. Besides a network of PCs and of DEC and SGI workstations, the Institutes High Performance Computing requirements are currently served by an SGI 2800 Origin Supercomputer.The system has 64 R10K processors, 16GB of RAM and about 400GB of diskspace.
Max-Planck-Institut für Gravitationsphysik (Albert-Einstein-Institut)
Further information: http://www.aei-potsdam.mpg.de