This series covers all areas of research at Perimeter Institute, as well as those outside of PI's scope.
Much work on quantum gravity has focused on short-distance problems such as non-renormalizability and singularities. However, quantization of gravity raises important long-distance issues, which may be more important guides to the conceptual advances required. These include the problems of black hole information and gauge invariant observables, and those of inflationary cosmology. An overview of aspects of these problems, and apparent connections, will be given.
A system of spins with complicated interactions between them can have many possible configurations. Many configurations will be local minima of the energy, and to get from one local minimum to another requires changing the state of very many spins. A system like this is called a spin glass, and at low temperatures tends to get caught for very long times at a local minimum of energy, rather than reaching its true ground state.
The AdS/CFT correspondence relates large-N, planar quantum gauge theories to string theory on the Anti-de-Sitter background. I will discuss exact results in field theories with AdS duals, which can be obtained with the help of diagram resummations, mapping to quantum spin chains and two-dimensional sigma-models.
"Conventional" superconductivity is one of the most dramatic phenomena in condensed matter physics, and yet by the 1970's it was fully understood - a solved problem much like quantum electrodynamics. The discovery of high temperature superconductivity changed all that and opened the door, not only to higher Tc's, but also to a wealth of even more exotic phenomena, including things like topologically ordered superconductors with factional vortices and non-Abelian statistics.
A Majorana fermion is a particle that is its own antiparticle. It has been studied in high energy physics for decades, but has not been definitely observed. In condensed matter physics, Majorana fermions appear as low energy fractionalized quasi-particles with non-Abelian statistics and inherent nonlocality. In this talk I will first discuss recent theoretical proposals of realizing Majorana fermions in solid-state systems, including topological insulators and nanowires. I will next propose experimental setups to detect the existence of Majorana fermions and their striking properties.
In this talk we will explore a "toy model" of quantum theory that is similar to actual quantum theory, but uses scalars drawn from a finite field. The set of possible states of a system is discrete and finite. Our theory does not have a quantitative notion of probability, but only makes the "modal" distinction between possible and impossible measurement results. Despite its very simple structure, our toy model nevertheless includes many of the key phenomena of actual quantum systems: interference, complementarity, entanglement, nonlocality, and the impossibility of cloning.
Black holes play a central role in astrophysics and in physics more generally. Candidate black holes are nearly ubiquitous in nature. They are found in the cores of nearly all galaxies, and appear to have resided there since the earliest cosmic times. They are also found throughout the galactic disk as companions to massive stars. Though these objects are almost certainly black holes, their properties are not very well constrained. We know their masses (often with errors that are factors of a few), and we know that they are dense.
I will describe recent work by Cutler&Holz and Hirata, Holz, & Cutler showing that a highly sensitive, deci-Hz gravitational-wave mission like BBO or Decigo could measure cosmological parameters, such as the Hubble constant H_0 and the dark energy parameters w_0 and w_a, far more accurately than other proposed dark-energy missions.
This talk will discuss some surprising links which have emerged in the last few years between two at first sight distinct areas of mathematical physics: the spectral properties of certain simple schroedinger-like equations, and the Bethe ansatz techniques which are used to compute the energies of states in integrable quantum field theories. No knowledge of either area will be assumed.