The Sunday Magazine·THE SUNDAY EDITION

Meet the brilliant particle physicist who is unlocking the mysteries of the cosmos

Asimina Arvanitaki has nothing but mathematics — and a very big brain — in her tool kit. She is the first female holder of a research chair at Waterloo's Perimeter Institute. Sunday Edition producer Chris Wodskou's documentary is called, "The Language of the Universe."
Asimina Arvanitaki is the first woman to hold a research chair at The Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario. (Chris Wodskou)

The fantastically complex mathematical equations that underlie the laws of nature and the universe are either terrifying or incomprehensible to most of us. Or both.

But Asimina Arvanitaki sees in them a wonderland of physics, and the keys to unlocking the deepest mysteries of the cosmos. 

Mina, as her friends call her, is an exuberant explorer of the furthest frontiers of theoretical physics. She's a particle physicist, which means that she studies the tiniest constituents of matter and energy —  gravity, dark matter, dark energy and black holes. 

She grew up in Greece, completed her PhD and postdoctoral work at Stanford University, and built a reputation as a brilliant scientist with a knack for finding ways to tackle far-out cosmological theories.

Now, she is the first woman to hold a research chair — the eight-million-dollar Stavros Niarchos Foundation Aristarchus Chair — at The Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario. 

The Perimeter Institute has a formidable roster of big brains and ambitious thinkers and researchers from around the world, probing the enigmas and hidden secrets of the cosmos. Even in the midst of such high-voltage brainpower, Dr. Arvanitaki is one of the brightest young stars at the Perimeter…and in the entire theoretical physics community.

She and her colleagues spend long hours at the blackboards that fill the offices and line the corridors of the Perimeter Institute, puzzling over near-mystical equations that describe a very strange, confounding universe — one that may be only one of many.

Chris Wodskou's documentary is called "The Language of the Universe."

Click the button above to hear the documentary.