This series covers all areas of research at Perimeter Institute, as well as those outside of PI's scope.
When we think of a revolution in physics, we usually think of a physical theory that manages to overthrow its predecessor. There is another kind of revolution, however, that typically happens more slowly but that is often the key to achieving the first sort: it is the discovery of a novel perspective on an existing physical theory. The use of least-action principles, symmetry principles, and thermodynamic principles are good historical examples.
One of the central challenges in theoretical physics is to develop non-perturbative methods to describe quantitatively the dynamics of strongly coupled quantum fields. Much progress in this direction has been made for theories with a higher degree of symmetry, such as conformal symmetry or supersymmetry.
In the twentieth century, many problems across all of physics were solved by perturbative methods which reduced them to harmonic oscillators. Black holes are poised to play a similar role for the problems of twenty-first century physics. They are at once the simplest and most complex objects in the physical universe. They are maximally complex in that the number of possible microstates, or entropy, of a black hole is believed to saturate a universal bound.
Mathematics has proven to be "unreasonably effective" in understanding nature. The fundamental laws of physics can be captured in beautiful formulae. In this lecture I want to argue for the reverse effect: Nature is an important source of inspiration for mathematics, even of the purest kind.
Augustine of Hippo declared he knew what time is until someone asked him. After 16 centuries we still largely ignore the true essence of time, but we made definite progress in studying its properties. The most striking, and somewhat intuitively (and tragically) obvious one is the irreversibility of its flow. And yet, our fundamental theories are time-reversal invariant, they do not distinguish between past and future. This is usually accounted for by assuming an immensely special initial condition of the Universe, dressed with statistical arguments.
I will talk about two types of random processes -- the classical Sherrington-Kirkpatrick (SK) model of spin glasses and its diluted version. One of the main motivations in these models is to find a formula for the maximum of the process, or the free energy, in the limit when the size of the system is getting large. The answer depends on understanding the structure of the Gibbs measure in a certain sense, and this structure is expected to be described by the so called Parisi solution in the SK model and Mézard-Parisi solution in the diluted SK model.
In this talk I will review the evidence for a mysterious and deep relationship between gravitational dynamics and thermodynamics. I will show how we can extend this connection to non equilibrium thermodynamics. Using the fact that the gravitational equations are fundamentally holographic, we express them in a way that shows a deep connection between gravity and the dynamics of viscous bubbles. We will explore some aspects of this surprising correspondence.
NIF is the world's most energetic laser system capable of producing over 1.8 MJ and 500 TW of ultraviolet light, about 100 times more than any other operating laser of its kind. This talk describes the unprecedented experimental capabilities of NIF, its role in fundamental science, the pathway to achieving fusion ignition and energy security missions, and the status of progress in these areas.
Time poses a fundamental problem in neuroscience, in part, because at its core the brain is a prediction machine: the brain evolved to allow animals to anticipate, adapt, and prepare for future events. To accomplish this function the brain tells time on scales spanning 12 orders of magnitude. In contrast to most man made clocks that share a very simply underlying principle-counting the "tics" of an oscillator-evolution has devised many different solutions to the problem of telling time.