Colloquium

This series covers all areas of research at Perimeter Institute, as well as those outside of PI's scope.

Seminar Series Events/Videos

Currently there are no upcoming talks in this series.

 

Wednesday Oct 01, 2008
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Exactly half a century after Minkowski’s justly famous lecture, Dirac’s efforts to quantize gravity led him “to doubt how fundamental the four-dimensional requirement in physics is”. Dirac does not appear to have explored this doubt further, but I shall argue that it needs to be considered seriously. The fact is that Einstein and Minkowski fused space and time into a four-dimensional continuum but never directly posed the two most fundamental questions in dynamics: What is time? What is motion?

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Wednesday Sep 24, 2008
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According to the second law of thermodynamics the entropy of a system cannot decrease by adiabatic state transformations. In quantum mechanics, the \'degree of entanglement\' of a state cannot increase under state transformations of a certain kind (local operations assisted by classical communication) In this talk I will explore the significance of the analogy between these two statements.

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Wednesday Sep 10, 2008
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In the wake of recent swings in the values of technology stocks and the prices of real estate, many people have become (painfully) familiar with the boom-and-bust cycles of speculative bubbles. Although playing out on longer time-scales, student enrollments in the sciences have followed a remarkably similar pattern during the decades since World War II. The characteristic pattern can be seen in several countries, including the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

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Wednesday May 28, 2008
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The last years have seen tremendous progress in simulations of inspiral and coalescence of binary black holes. I will present recent results of the Caltech/Cornell collaboration simulating inspiral and collision of two black holes. Furthermore, while currently no talk on numerical relativity seems to be complete without a discussion of binary black hole coalescence, there are many more aspects of Einstein\'s equations that can be probed numerically. I will discuss some of these unexpected and intriguing features, among them black holes with five horizons and super-extremal black holes.

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Wednesday May 07, 2008
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The theory of Quantum Mechanics requires \'completeness\', that is, we need to know the complete set of physically allowed states before we can reliably compute quantum mechanical amplitudes. Among these possible states are microscopic black holes, since they are valid solutions to Einstein\'s equations for the gravitational force. However, a quantum description of black holes requires a drastic revision of our notions of space and time, in particular if we were to accept the interpretation of their microstates as given by superstring theories.

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Wednesday Apr 23, 2008
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I will describe antiferromagnets and superconductors near quantum phase transitions. There is a remarkable analogy between their dynamics and the holographic description of Hawking radiation from black holes. I will show how insights from this analogy have shed light on experiments on the cuprate high temperature superconductors.

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Wednesday Apr 16, 2008
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Graphene, a single atomic layer of graphite, was created only a few years ago. It is a remarkable system, whose law energy effective theory has a lot in common with relativistic 2 + 1 dimensional ones. Graphene allows tabletop experiments for observing nonperturbative relativistic phenomena, most notably spontaneous chiral symmetry breaking both in vacuum and in an external magnetic field. The latter is in turn crucial for the dynamics of Quantum Hall effect in this system.

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Wednesday Apr 09, 2008
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Hawking\'s black hole information paradox is one of the great thought experiments in physics. It points to a breakdown of some central principle of physics, though which one breaks down is still in dispute. It has led to the discovery of ideas that seem to be key to unifying quantum mechanics and gravity, namely the holographic principle and gauge/gravity duality. I review this subject, and discuss ongoing work and future directions.

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Wednesday Apr 02, 2008
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I will summarize current observational constraints in cosmology with emphasis on what we have learned about the properties of the primordial density perturbations. I will describe future directions including observations of high redshift neutral hydrogen through is 21 cm line.

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Wednesday Mar 26, 2008
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The Great Plague of London, which claimed the lives of one fifth of London\'s population in 1665, is one of the most famous epidemics of all time. We have recently digitized the mortality records for London during the Great Plague, yielding weekly data for each of the 130 parishes. I will describe the temporal and spatial dynamics of the plague, and discuss our efforts to estimate the transmissibility of the infectious agent. I will also briefly describe other projects in progress inspired by disease-specific mortality records for London over the past 650 years.

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