To unravel these mysteries, Padmanabhan has to marry quantum mechanics—matter existing as both particle and wave—with Einstein’s general theory of relativity about the vagaries of space-time. "For want of a successful model marrying these theories, quantum gravity remains the leading problem in theoretical physics and requires a different approach," says Padmanabhan, whose approach to quantum gravity deals with space-time like condensed matter physicists deal with solids. "Take a seemingly smooth continuous solid. To obtain its correct quantum theory, we must deal with the atoms it is made of and the empty space inside. Similarly, we need to understand the ‘atoms’ in the microstructure of space-time and apply the principles of quantum theory to it. I’m dealing with the unappreciated, unexplained aspects of Einstein’s theory. A successful theory of quantum gravity will revolutionise the way we look at space and time."