This series covers all areas of research at Perimeter Institute, as well as those outside of PI's scope.
Recently, a new class of topological states has been theoretically predicted and experimentally realized. The topological insulators have an insulating gap in the bulk, but have topologically protected edge or surface states due to the time reversal symmetry. In two dimensions the edge states give rise to the quantum spin Hall (QSH) effect, in the absence of any external magnetic field. I shall review the theoretical prediction of the QSH state in HgTe/CdTe semiconductor quantum wells, and its recent experimental observation.
The hot, gaseous atmospheres of galaxies and clusters of galaxies are
repositories for the energy output from accreting, supermassive black holes located in the nuclei of galaxies.
X-ray observations show that star formation fueled by gas condensing out of hot atmospheres is strongly suppressed by feedback from active galactic nuclei (AGN). This mechanism
may solve several outstanding problems in astrophysics, including the
numbers of luminous galaxies and their colors, and the excess number of
I will present recent numerical results obtained in collaboration with Frans Pretorius that describe head-on collisions of two solitons coupled to the general relativistic gravitational field and boosted to ultra relativistic energies. The calculations show, for the first time, that at sufficiently high energies such a collision leads to black hole formation, consistent with hoop conjecture arguments.
Quantum Bayesianism is a point of view on quantum foundations that says that there is no such thing as a “measurement problem” because there is no such THING as a quantum state: Quantum states are not things---instead information. But the view doesn’t stop there; it starts there! Taking the idea seriously over the last 15 years has been the direct motivation for a number of theorems and objects in quantum information theory: from the no-broadcasting theorem, to the quantum de Finetti theorem, and even some quantum cryptographic alphabets.
Self-assembly refers to any thermodynamic process in which a bunch of particles (molecules, biomolecules, polymers, colloids) come together in solution to form an ordered structure. In living things it is a widely used and robust manufacturing tool: DNA, RNA and proteins spontaneously form three dimensional structures, and supramolecular structures emerge from protein aggregates with staggering degrees of ordering and specificity. By contrast, most synthetic systems in soft condensed matter do not assemble robustly.
Viscosity is a very old concept which was introduced to physics by Navier in the 19th century. However, in strongly coupled systems, the viscosity is usually difficult to compute. In this talk I will describe how gauge/gravity duality, a by-product of string theory, allows one to compute the viscosity for a class of strongly interacting fluids not too dissimilar to the quark gluon plasma. I will also describe efforts to measure the viscosity and other physical properties of the quark gluon plasma at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider.
We will review the definitions of spin foam models for quantum gravity and the recent advances in this field, such as the "graviton propagator", the definition of coherent states of geometry and the derivation of non-commutative field theories as describing the effective dynamics of matter coupled to quantum gravity. I will insist on the role of group field theories as providing a non-perturbative definition of spinfoams and their intricate relation with non-commutative geometry and matrix models.
Last May, NASA astronauts performed a challenging and flawless Space Shuttle servicing mission to the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. With science instruments repaired on board and incredible new ones installed, the observatory is more powerful now than ever before. I will show the dramatic highlights of the mission, and present some of the first results from the refurbished telescope.
Ever since there's been money, there have been people trying to counterfeit it, and governments trying to stop them. In 1969, the physicist Stephen Wiesner raised the remarkable possibility of money whose authenticity would be guaranteed by the laws of quantum mechanics. However, the question of whether one can have secure quantum money that anyone (not only the bank) can verify has remained open for forty years. In this talk, I'll tell you about progress on the question over the last two years.
The graph isomorphism (GI) problem plays a central role in the theory of computational complexity and has importance in physics and chemistry as well. While no general efficient algorithm for solving GI is known, it is unlikely to be NP-complete; in this regard it is similar to the factoring problem, for which Shor has developed an efficient quantum algorithm.