This series covers all areas of research at Perimeter Institute, as well as those outside of PI's scope.
The boundary object is an ethnographic term that describes objects, processes, or words that cross between cultures or disciplines. Boundary objects are often the currency and the result of cross disciplinary practices. All manner of things, from software, to maps, to theories can provide a rich terrain for misunderstanding, tentative agreements or new insights. Case studies of cross-disciplinary art and science collaborations or design and engineering projects will provide examples.
The “clock ambiguity” is a general feature of standard formulations of quantum gravity, as well as a much wider class of theoretical frameworks. The clock ambiguity completely undermines any attempt at uniquely specifying laws of physics at the fundamental level. In this talk I explain in simple terms how the clock ambiguity arises. I then present a number of concrete results which suggest that a statistical approach to physical laws could allow sharp predictions to emerge despite the clock ambiguity.
Theoretical neuroscience, like theoretical physics, attempts to discover and quantify the basic principles governing the systems it studies. Currently, however, there are very few attempts at unification across the levels of organization found in the brain. In this talk, I will describe the biological mechanisms of interest to neuroscientists, and describe a quantitative method for constructing sophisticated models of these mechanisms.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.