What is your name, affiliation, academic position, and job title?
I am Miguel A. S. Pinto, a 1st year PhD student at the University of Lisbon and a Student Fellow at the Portuguese Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences (IA).
What is your journey?
I grew up in Lisbon, where I did all mandatory education. Around this time, I was a football player, but the lack of motivation, the number of injuries, and the compromise of my study time due to long training sessions put a final term to my short career. Afterward, I did my Bachelor’s and Master’s studies at the University of Lisbon, where I also began my PhD program earlier this year.
What is your field of research and/or what project are you involved in?
During my Bachelor’s and Master’s studies, I worked in Theoretical Particle Physics and Condensed Matter Physics. However, since the 2nd year of my Master’s, I have been working on Modified Gravity Theories, which can be regarded as alternative theories (or extensions) to Einstein’s General Relativity. In this context, I am involved in “Beyond Lambda”, a project financed by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology, as a researcher.
What are your research plans?
During my PhD, I plan to explore the possible applications of Modified Gravity Theories in two specific domains: High Energy Astroparticle Physics and Cosmology.
How does CosmoVerse fit within those plans?
Modified Gravity in Cosmology offers novel avenues for solving the cosmological tensions. Thus, the CosmoVerse network fits perfectly in my plans, as it helps me reach out to more experienced scientists, both theorists and experimentalists, to know their vision on this open question.
Which of your skills are you most proud of, or find most useful?
My two most valuable assets are critical thinking and being prone to adaptability.
What new skills would you like to learn in the next year?
As a person whose work is theoretical, I would like to learn more about the observational counterpart of my research, such as how missions are conducted and planned from the ground up.
What are the most exciting open questions in your research area?
Is dark matter made up of quantum particles? What is the true nature of dark energy? Is it possible to merge General Relativity with Quantum Physics?
What advances or new results are you excited about or looking forward to?
With the acquisition of data from the recent Euclid mission, I hope we can start to unravel the mysterious nature of both dark matter and energy. I am also keen to see the advancements in planned missions, such as the Einstein Telescope and LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna).
What is your view on cosmic tensions? How does your work connect with this open question in the community?
It may be the case where the origin of this problem results from the experimental side, but if that is not the case, then there are some theoretical paths one can take to tackle this issue; for example, breaking the assumption that the Universe is homogenous and isotropic, or postulating that General Relativity fails to describe the gravitational interaction at cosmological scales. My work is related to the latter approach.
What role do you think a community network like CosmoVerse can play in developing theoretical astroparticle physics and cosmology?
I believe that sometimes there is a lack of communication between theorists and experimentalists because people usually tend to isolate and work on their projects. Therefore, community networks play a pivotal role in bringing these two distinct groups of people together to discuss the most intriguing questions of their research field harmonically.
What do you like and dislike about being a scientist?
I appreciate the fact that I am trying to advance humanity’s knowledge, even if it is just by a little, but I certainly do not like the lack of funding we have at times hehe.
What’s your favourite food? Why?
Sushi, as I love the characteristic flavor of its rice.
Your favourite scientist and/or science fiction film?
David Tong and Akira.
How do you relax after a hard day of work?
I usually spend some time with my loved ones, go to the gym, or go running, because I value good-quality social interactions (to be mentally shaped) and exercise (to be physically shaped).
What non-physics interests do you have and want to share?
I have a passion for languages, history, and sports.
If you were not a scientist, what do you think you would be doing?
I always wanted to become a professional football goalkeeper, but I must confess that I am not fit for that anymore. I suppose I would give a good historian.
What do you hope to see accomplished scientifically in the next 50 years?
Due to a persistent enterprise from (arguably) the most brilliant minds on Earth over the last decades, I hope the scientific community discovers a consistent Quantum Theory of Gravity.
In your view, what’s the most important challenge that humanity faces currently?
The absence of shared core values among different cultures… Because they often result in conflicts and wars. One of my dreams is to see humanity unite through the power of science.
What question would you have liked us to ask you, and what would you have answered?
Are you happy to be a CosmoVerse scientist? Absolutely!