Name: t Hooft, Gerard
 Postal address: Spinoza Instituut,
 Leuvenlaan 4
 Postbus 80.195
 3508 TD
 Voorts verbonden aan: 
 Institute for Theoretical
 Universiteit Utrecht
 Leuvenlaan 4, 3584
 CC Utrecht
 Tel.: +31 30 253 5928
 Tel.  +31 30 253 1863
 Fax:  +31 30 253 5937
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secretary: Mrs. Wanda Verweij, [] 
Discussing Magnetic Monopoles with Rembert Duine

Professor Theoretical Physics

Click here for lectures (notes, PowerPoint files)

Research interests:        

Gauge theories in elementary particle physics.
This was the topic of the 1999 Nobel Prize. An idea was proposed by C.N. Yang and Robert Mills in 1954: they suggested that particles in the sub-atomic world might interact via fields that are similar to, but more general than electricity and magnetism. But, even though the interactions that had been registered in experiments showed some vague resemblance to the Yang-Mills equations, the details seemed to be all wrong. Attempts to perform accurate calculations were frustrated by infinite - hence meaningless - results. Together with my advisor then, and my co-Nobel-laureate now, M. Veltman, I found in 1970 how to renormalize the theory, and, more importantly, we identified the theories for which this works, and what conditions they must fulfil. One must, for instance, have a so-called Higgs-particle. These theories are now called gauge theories.

It was subsequently discovered that, indeed, the observed details of all known forces exactly agree with this picture. First it was found that the so-called weak force, in combination with the more familiar electro-magnetic one, is exactly described by a Yang-Mills theory. In 1973 it was concluded that also the strong force is a Yang-Mills theory. I was among the small number of people who were already convinced of this from early 1971. During the later 1970s, all pieces fell into place. Of all simple models describing the fundamental particles, one was standing out, the so-called ‘Standard Model’.
Gauge theories are the backbone of this Standard Model. But now it also became clear that this is much more than just a model: it is the Standard Theory. Great precision can be reached, though the practical difficulties in some sectors are still substantial, and it would be great if one could devise more powerful calculation techniques.
Also, in spite of all its successes, the Standard Model, as it is formulated at present, shows deficiencies. It cannot be exactly right. Significant refinements are expected soon, since the new European machine, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is now fully operational.

More and more data concerning the Higgs particle are being registered at CERN. The most uncertain parameter has always been its mass, which in principle could be anything between 100 and 1000 GeV. Precision checks obtained from numerous experiments suggested that the most likely mass value should be between 114 and roughly 200 GeV. Using results first from Fermilab in the USA, and now the ones pouring in from LHC, the margin of possible mass values were rapidly narrowed down. As from July 4, 2012, the value 126 GeV is being reported, with a margin less than 1 GeV. So far, everything still agrees with the simplest version of the Standard Model ! Modest modifications of the Standard Model would replace the Higgs with a multitude of particles, which will be more difficult to identify. CERN data taking was be interrupted by a long maintenance stop. After that, at higher energies and higher luminosities, more information with much higher precision may be expected.

Quantum gravity and black holes .
The predominant force controlling large scale events in the Universe is the gravitational one. The physical and the mathematical nature of this force were put in an entirely new perspective by Albert Einstein. He noted that gravitation is rooted in geometric properties of space and time themselves. The equations he wrote down for this force show a remarkable resemblance with the gauge forces that control the sub-nuclear world as described in the previous paragraph, but there is one essential difference: if we investigate how individual sub-atomic particles would affect one another gravitationally, we find that the infinities are much worse, and renormalization fails here. Under normal circumstances, the gravitational force between sub-atomic particles is so weak that these difficulties are insignificant, but at extremely tiny distance scales, of the order of   10-33 cm, this force will become strong. We are tempted to believe that, at these tiny distance scales, the fabric of space and time is affected by quantum mechanical phenomena, but exactly how this happens is still very mysterious. One approach to this problem is to ask: under which circumstance is the gravitational force as strong as it ever can be? The answer to this is clear: at the horizon of a black hole.

As I have been emphasizing for more than two decades now, the text book description of quantum gravity (where the Einstein-Hilbert action is quantized using standard procedures) shows flaws here that run deeper than that it generates infinities: it does not allow a description of a black hole as a single quantum object. This is a direct contradiction, a paradox, a problem shouting for a radical solution, saying that there is something we are not doing right. For a long time I was convinced that also superstring theory, in this respect is fundamentally faulty, but two developments forced me to be more cautious here. One: it is now possible to describe at least some members of the black hole family using string theory with multidimensional membranes, called D-branes, added to it. The objects thus obtained are purely quantum mechanical and agree with naive expectations so well that many of my colleagues are convinced that “string theory solves the problem”. But why does this happen? How does string theory resolve the paradox? Curiously, string theorists themselves do not quite understand this. I think that important improvements of the theory are necessary. See below (red text).

Here comes twist number two: I claim to have found how to put quantum gravity back in line so as to restore quantum mechanics for pure black holes. It does not happen automatically, you need a new symmetry. It is called local conformal invariance. This symmetry is often used in superstring and supergravity theories, but very often the symmetry is broken by what we call “anomalies”. These anomalies are often looked upon as a nuisance but a fact of life. I now claim that black holes only behave as required in a consistent theory if all conformal anomalies cancel out. This is a very restrictive condition, and, very surprisingly, this condition also affects the Standard Model itself. All particles are only allowed to interact with gravity and with each other in very special ways. Conformal symmetry must be an exact  local symmetry, which is spontaneously broken by the vacuum,  exactly  like in the Higgs mechanism.

This leads to the prediction that models exist where all unknown parameters of the Standard Model, such as the finestructure constant, the proton-electron mass ratio, and in fact all other such parameters are computable. Up till now these have been freely adjustable parameters of the theory, to be determined by experiment but they were not yet predicted by any theory.

I am not able to compute these numbers today because the high energy end of the elementary particle properties is not known. There is one firm prediction: constants of Nature are truly constant. All attempts to detect possible space and time dependence of the Standard Model parameters will give negative results. This is why I am highly interested in precision measurements of possible space-time dependence of constants of Nature, such as the ones done by using a so-called "frequency comb". These are high precision comparisons between different spectral frequencies in atoms and molecules. They tell us something very special about the world we live in.  

The Hierarchy Problem.
An important problem can now be addressed: the hierarchy problem, which is the question why particle masses are 20 orders of magnitude smaller than the Planck mass, and the cosmological constant even more than 120 orders of magnitude. Could my theory explain this? I have been studying some intriguing ideas. Could the coefficients that relate to the cosmological constant and the mass terms be due to instantons? These are known for generating exponentially suppressed amplitudes. My present theory allows me to investigate such approaches. I do have a candidate gravitational instanton that could be the culprit here, but details do not yet work out right.

Fundamental aspects of quantum physics, and their implications for (super) string theory.
My views on the physical interpretation of quantum theory, and its implications for Big Bang theories of the Universe, are rapidly evolving.
My earlier papers (see for instance Hilbert space in deterministic theories, ) may seem to be very formal, and moreover, their contents are disputed, even ridiculed, by some of my colleagues. Is there "free will" or "predestination"? What I am really saying is that, at the most basic level of Nature's equations, there is no quantum mechanics, but only classical logic. But even so, who cares?
Well, if true, this would be a very important piece of information to use in model building. My claim that it has to be true is based on considerations concerning black holes and the limited amount of quantum information they can contain. Now investigators put forward that this  cannot  be true because of the so-called "Bell inequalities": quantum mechanics strongly violates these inequalities while classical systems cannot do that. At the atomic scale, numerous experiments confirm the quantum mechanical predictions. Can I wiggle myself out of this one?
There are long answers and there is a short one. The long answers are complicated, and usually my opponents find weak spots in them, but the short answer is more basic:

I have mathematically sound equations that show how classical models generate quantum mechanics. It's not fake quantum mechanics, with "pilot wave functions" or other such nonsense; it's the real thing. End of argument.
However, to produce models that are classical at their most basic levels, while producing something interesting such as the Standard Model at the TeV scale, is not easy. Now here I can report progress. Non-trivial models (models in which particles interact in non-trivial ways) can now be constructed, using what I call the discrete Hamiltonian formalism. The usual quantum canonical variables  pi  and  qi   are replaced by classical, commuting,  integer  variables   Pi  and  Qi   The Hamiltonian is an integer number as well - all this provided suitable units are chosen. This leads to an improvement of my earlier theories: now the associated quantum Hamiltonian follows rigorously.
The apparent contradictions usually brought forward to criticise such ideas now seem to be reduced to semantic difficulties arising when people use an uinappropriate language to describe physical phenomena. However, I need to show this more clearly than I can at present, and this will require more research. See my most recent preprint: <<Hamiltonian formalism for integer-valued variables and integer time steps and a possible application in quantum physics>>,

Recently, news came that experimentersCallicchio et al,, plan to "close the setting-independence loophole" by looking at the fluctuations of light from distant quasars. Prediction: of course they will find that Bell's inequalities are violated. And: no, this does not close the superdeterminism loophole. Setting independence will require some notion of local counterfactual realism, that is, the idea that there should be a unique answer to the question: what would the experimenters have observed if the detecteor settings would have been modified, for instance because a different photon was received from the distant quasar? My point is now that local hidden variables of the kind I have been studying do not imply local counterfactual realism, or setting-independence. Point is that Bell's inequalities will no longer be valid if one accepts that there can be strong correlations of all fluctuations (including those of the vacuum fluctuations) at spacelike distances. Superdeterminism allows that, even makes it likely. Bell assumed that no such correlations are possible. That's where the loophole is. Quasars don't close that. They too are correlated, plain and simple. One can calculate the required correlations. Two-point correlations may still vanish. 3-point correlations cause Bell violation. These correlations are likely to be very strong. Callichio et al correctly point out that, even quasars have a common past due to inflation shortly after the Big Bang. The quasars did not emerge after inflation without strong correlations, which for us are undetectable except for Bell-like experiments.

In short, hidden variables without local counterfactual realism can be constructed and are in fact good candidates for a very concise explanation as to why our world seems to be quantum mechanical. There is no need for "pilot waves" or for the simultaneous existence of "many worlds".

It is often stated that hidden variables are introduced to cure the "incompleteness" of quantum mechanics. However, one does not have to add extra degrees of freedom; one has to choose the degrees of freedom more carefully, that's all. In my forth-coming book/review paper I plan to explain that, unfortunately, a proper understanding of these issues may force us to include the gravitational force, so that some basic understanding of quantum gravity will have to be required.


My earlier research  leads to the consideration of string theories where target space (that is, real space-time) is a lattice. Adding fermions appears to be easy, so my analysis will include superstrings. I am led to a startling result: quantized superstrings can be mapped mathematically to classical strings living on a lattice. The equations of motion of these strings are straightforward; they're obviously finite, discrete, and classical. At the classical level, Lorentz invariance is reduced to lattice-Lorentz invariance - indeed, this is the first such model, and I have been searching for such models for some time!

Caveat: So far, this was done while ignoring string-string interactions. These are complicated, because interaction causes gravity, and gravity causes space-time curvature, which we cannot handle at the moment.

My fellow Nobel laureate David Gross has stated at several occasions his expectation that the logic of superstring theory will be "even crazier than ordinary quantum mechanics", and that we will have to revise our sense of logic once again. My theory now makes me think the opposite:
The logic of Superstring Theory will, or should, be even easier than that of classical mechanics!
Classical mechanics is based on variables that are real numbers, hence they require infinite series of decimal places, to be recalculated infinitely many times during any time interval. This leads to the well-known phenomenon of  chaos : regardless how accurately you specify the initial conditions, after a certain amount of time the evolution of a classical mechanical system becomes unpredictable. Superstring theory will be based on integers living on a lattice. Only finite amounts of information are progressed, during finite time steps. No chaos.

Large amounts of work remains to be sorted out here. I think this subject is fascinating.

To me, Nature is a big jig-saw puzzle, and I see it as my task to try to fit pieces of it together. Click and cut the pieces you see here from the screen and see how they fit, or: read more about it in my book: ‘Bouwstenen van de Schepping’ (Prometheus/Bert Bakker, ISBN 90 351 1327 6) or its English version: 'In Search of the Ultimate Building Blocks', Cambridge Univ. Press, Paperback, ISBN 0 521 578833; hardback, ISBN 0 521 550831) . In ‘Planetenbiljart’, a personal view is described of the potentials of scientific and technological developments in the future. Which possibilities are there and are there things that will be impossible forever? Maybe you enjoy SF novels as much as I do, but don’t mistake those for predictions of the future. My book appeared in English: Playing with Planets, World Scientific,  ISBN 978-981-279-307-2 (hard cover), ISBN 978-981-279-020-0 ( pbk), 2008.

Important message for autograph collectors: Some people are afflicted with the desire to collect photographs and autographs of Nobel Prize winners. I am very flattered when I receive such requests, but I think I have done my share. I am sold out now. No more photographs or autographs, with apologies.


Coming up soon:

Long review paper on the "Cellular Automaton Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics", where all arguments concerning entanglement, superdeterminism and conspiracy will be displayed at length, besides numerous models.

And: Time in Powers of Ten, by G. ’t Hooft and Stefan Vandoren, translated by Saskia ’t Hooft  - Eisberg. World Scientific.

Page "How to become a GOOD theoretical physicist" will be replaced. The website is being repaired and renewed by Navaneeth Gaddam,   It is now here (still under construction)

 Grandson Daniel is practicing etiquette for his next Nobel Banquet

Birth grandchild # 4 (a boy): Damian Lucas Eisberg, December 17, 2013, 08:30, 3550 g, 50 cm. See some pictures of my family

Taming the forces between Quarks and gluons - Calorons Out of The Box, Scientific Papers by Pierre van Baal, eds G. 't Hooft and C.P. Korthals Altes, Wold Scientific. Book presented at the Lorentz Institute, Leiden June 21, 2013.

January 16, Grandchild # 3: Daniel G.R. van Deutekom.

May, 2013: A few more tesselations

Meccano Math I and II, see Meccano Math III
.July 4, 2012: Important announcement at CERN: a bosonic particle with all the properties expected for the Higgs particle has been detected. This most likely will fill up the last blank spot in the Standard Model. As of December 2012: this still seems to be our Higgs particle! Didn't I tell you it should be there?


June 5, 2012: Honorary Doctorate from the National Polytechnical University of Odessa, Ukraine.

 Manned spaceflight to Mars. It's going to happen. See Website Mars One (in English) (in Dutch)!


There is so much wrong with modern software, see my fulmination page (mopperpagina)

This page was translated into Georgian here.

My first grand daughter Charlotte Lily Eisberg, Feb 28, 2012.

Tijd in machten van Tien, door Gerard ’t Hooft en Stefan Vandoren, Uitgave Natuurwetenschap & Techniek, onderdeel van Uitgeverij Veen Magazines B.V., ligt nu in de boekwinkels.

"Time in Powers of Ten " is written in Dutch, but we certainly plan to produce a version in English as soon as possible. The idea is simple: Physicists and astrophysicists have produced various popularized descriptions of the enormously varying length scales in the Universe, in books and films. The Universe is some 50 billion light years across, that's nearly 1029 cm. The smallest conceivable objects are superstrings, somewhere around 10-32 cm. At every scale in powers of ten, our world looks different and very special. So now, we do the same thing with time. In fact, the variations in the time scales are even bigger. The time scale for super strings is 10-43 seconds, and age of the Universe is less than 1018 seconds, but there are phenomena that outlast our Universe by gigantic factors. The lifetime of the most fundamental particle in our world, the proton, is expected to be something around 1041 seconds, and large black holes can last much longer than that. At nearly every time scale, things happen in our world, and we describe them, starting with just one second, then 10 seconds, 100 seconds and so on, until in the middle of the book, where we switch to the fastest time scales conceivable, until at the end we return to one second.

Appointment as Universiteitshoogleraar beginning July 1, 2011.

A (very tiny) stamp collection.

Birth of first grandson, Rowan B.A. van Deutekom, son of Ellen ′t Hooft and Roland van Deutekom, February 5, 2011. Some pictures of my family.

January 29, 2011: Erice Prize 2009 ("Ettore Majorana Prize - Erice - Science for Peace"). Here is the citation.

Lomonosov Medal:
The Russian Academy of Sciences has awarded the Lomonosov Large Gold Medals to a Full Member of the Academy Spartak Beliayev of Russia, and to a Dutch Professor Gerardus t Hooft.

Some old documents were found when cleaning some closets.
1) Here is what Frederick Reines wrote on a napkin in a restaurant on Balboa Island, Newport Beach, California, back in 1981. And:
2) In the year 2000, at Copenhagen, many physicists were bold and optimistic about supersymmetry. Here is a wager, duly recorded. The date of "discovery of supersymmetry" was set at June 21, 2010. I would be ready to give them another five years, but then I will politely approach my susy friends to inquire about the bottle of cognac.
3) Brief aan Darwin (in Dutch, op uitnodiging van De Volkskrant)

Gravitating misconceptions: response on claims by a group of self proclaimed scientists concerning the validity of the theory of General Relativity.


Reaction upon a letter that was sent to The New Scientist by a group of scientists who urge to establish new categories of Nobel Prizes. Later, I learned that the Nobel Committee itself reacted very much in the same spirit.


Read this fairy tale. Your reactions are welcome.


The English translation of "Planetenbiljart" has appeared. English title: "Playing with Planets" (World Scientific, Singapore). See The original text has been improved in many ways. Translation by my daughter Saskia.


An article concerning freedom of religion was added to 9491 Thooft-s Constitution. .


For some new fractals obtained using PostScript and PovRay, see  Computer art gallery.


As illustrated by this photo, all cattle in the meadows of the Netherlands by law have to wear ear tags. My bicycle trip in the countryside inspired me to modify the bylaws of Constitution Law # 13 for  9491 Thooft-s Constitution.


Taalperikelen (door G. ’t Hooft)


For alternative views concerning the question "what is science, and what isn’t?", see this link


Figure at left: the "Peaucellier–Lipkin linkage". See "Meccano Mathematics I", a little treatise on some nice features of meccano strips. For those who like Meccano and Euclidean geometry at shigh school level.  Meccano Math II describes the solutions to the exercises given in Meccano Math I, and more. An interesting new solution (from the 19th century!) is described in Meccano Math III.
There is a simpler straight line construction. No time to write that down now.

See also Robert J. Lang’s Origami science.

More papers that were never published can be obtained here.

From January 2007: Chief Editor of  Foundations of Physics,  an International Journal  devoted to the conceptual bases and fundamental theories of Modern Physics, Biophysics and Cosmology, Springer.

See some photographed creatures

Special message to those who wish to mail to me their new revolutionary theories: Please first check your Baez index, and/or consult Warren Siegel.

Complaints about MS Word®: . Add to this the serious troubles with its so-called "smart quote" feature, which inverts quotation marks incorrectly. In particular, it deliberately wrecks the spelling of the family name ’t Hooft, where it replaces the apostrophe by a ‘beginning quotation’ mark.

Asteroid 9491 Thooft has its orbit between those of Mars and Jupiter. This asteroid was discovered March 25, 1971, by C.J. van Houten and I. van Houten-Groeneveld on Palomar Schmidt plates taken by T. Gehrels.
They are also the discoverers, in 1977, of asteroid
11779 Zernike, named after my grand-uncle Frits Zernike.

The 1999 Nobel Prize in Physics has been awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences jointly to Gerardus ’t Hooft and Martinus J.G. Veltman. The Academy’ s citation:

"for elucidating the quantum structure of electroweak interactions in physics."

Gerard ’t Hooft receiving his Nobel Prize from His Majesty the King
King Carl XVI Gustaf and Mrs ’ t Hooft
The Nobel Prize Diploma
The Medal

See Computer art.  Please first check your screen.
Some animations used in PowerPoint presentations (Note: these files tend to be a bit large, be patient with downloading)

And here is the universal manual for everything.

G. ’t Hooft Curiculum Vitae
G. ’t Hooft
List of PhD Students
G. ’t Hooft
publication list

Voordracht over Professor Sickbock t.g.v. de Marten Toonder tentoonstelling in het Teylers Museum te Haarlem,1 juni 1996.

A frequently asked question:
Can Theoretical Physics explain paranormal phenomena? You do not want to hear about it. So do NOT click on
A sober explanation (in English) .or Poster op het Skepsis-congres(in het Nederlands), 8 mei 1998.

Another "experiment" was recently reported in which paranormal signals were claimed to be observed. Probably the flaw is an incorrect handling of the statistics, where unintentional bias was difficult to exclude. I am prepared to challenge these and any other serious investigators with a bet. See here the conditions.

Columns in FYLAKRA:
Uit ’t Hooft
’t Hooftthema
’t Hooftkussen

Een brief aan Darwin  (op uitnodiging van De Volkskrant)

A treatise on evolution.


G. 't Hooft is married to: A. A.Schik, MD, formerly anesthesiologist, Arbo-arts (medical doctor for company personnel). Now retired. Two daughters:
Saskia A. Eisberg - ’ t Hooft.  Now living in London, and 
Ellen M. ’ t Hooft.  Veterinarian at Drachten, Friesland (NL)
Some pictures of 't Hooft family

An account of our investigations in elementary particle physics, translated in various languages:



Het Platform Bèta Techniek, met alle Bèta ambassadeurs.

Meer weten over natuurkunde? Zie de site Kennislink.

A web site for all ambitious starting theoretical physicists, featuring a complete list of all mandatory topics in mathematics and elementary as well as advanced theoretical physics. See: How to become a GOOD theoretical physicist.  Don’ t wait until you enter the University. Start now. Comments are welcome.
See also: How to become a BAD theoretical physicist.

Support the heroic Rationalist International, an activity based in India.
Check the logic of your opponent’s arguments here!

Exploration of the Moon and Mars. See book: "Playing with Planets".

 link1; link2; a hotel on the Moon, Lunex, Go Back to the Moon

A human settlement on Mars is possible! See Mars One...It is going to be a spectacular mission - if the plans can be realized. It all depends on how much support these plans will receive world-wide! And funding. The press conference December 10 disclosed how the plans further evolve: contracts with Lochheed Martin to develop and construct the first Mars One unmanned Mars lander, and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) for the communications satellite that will orbit Mars.

For an explanation of the apostrophe ( ′ ), click here.
Last revised:  April 22,  2014