This series covers all areas of research at Perimeter Institute, as well as those outside of PI's scope.
In his classic essay, “The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge,” Abraham Flexner, the founding director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton and the man who helped bring Albert Einstein to the United States, describes a great paradox of scientific research. The search for answers to deep questions, motivated solely by curiosity and without concern for applications, often leads not only to the greatest scientific discoveries but also the most revolutionary technological breakthroughs. In short, no quantum mechanics, no computer chips.
The observations of gravitational waves from the mergers of compact binary sources opens a new way to learn about the universe as well as to test General Relativity in the limit of strong gravitational interactions – the dynamics of massive bodies traveling at relativistic speeds in a highly curved space-time. The lecture will describe some of the difficult history of gravitational waves proposed about 100 years ago.
Our sense of smell is extraordinarily good at molecular recognition: we can identify tens of thousands of odorants unerringly over a wide concentration range. The mechanism by which this happens is still hotly debated. One view is that molecular shape governs smell, but this notion has turned out to have very little predictive power. Some years ago I revived a discredited theory that posits instead that the nose is a vibrational spectroscope, and proposed a possible underlying mechanism, inelastic electron tunneling.
In general relativity causal relations between any pair of events is uniquely determined by locally predefined variables - the distribution of matter-energy degrees of freedom in the events' past light-cone. Under the assumption of locally predefined causal order, agents performing freely chosen local operations on an initially local quantum state cannot violate Bell inequalities. However, superposition of massive objects can effectively lead to "entanglement" in the temporal order between groups of local operations, enabling the violation of the inequalities.
The much-anticipated joint detection of gravitational waves and electromagnetic radiation was achieved for the first time on August 17, 2017, for the binary neutron star merger GW170817. This event was detected by Advanced LIGO/Virgo, gamma-ray satellites, and dozens of telescopes on the ground and in space spanning from radio to X-rays. In this talk I will describe the exciting discovery of the optical counterpart, which in turn led to several detailed studies across the electromagnetic spectrum. The results of the observations carried out by our team include the first detailed study of
The Cosmic Web is the fundamental spatial organization of matter in the Universe on scales of a few up to a hundred Megaparsec, scales at which the Universe still resides in a state of moderate dynamical evolution. Galaxies, intergalactic gas and dark matter exist in a wispy weblike spatial arrangement consisting of dense compact clusters, elongated filaments, and sheetlike walls, amidst large near-empty void regions.
With the groundbreaking gravitational wave detections from LIGO/VIRGO, we have entered the era where we can actually observe the action of strongly curved spacetime originally predicted by Einstein. Going hand in hand with this, there has been a renaissance in the theoretical and computational tools we use to understand and interpret the dynamics of gravity and matter in this regime. I will describe some of the rich behavior exhibited by sources of gravitational waves such as the mergers of black holes and neutron stars.
I will give an overview of the causal set approach to quantum gravity, and what makes this "fork in the road" distinct from other approaches. Motivated by deep theorems in Lorentzian geometry, causal set theory (CST) posits that the underlying fabric of spacetime is atomistic and encoded in a locally finite partially ordered set.
There is a long tradition of formulating Quantum Theory in an operational manner. In one version of this a circuit is formed by wiring together operations.
The observed deviations from the laws of gravity of Newton and Einstein in galaxies and clusters can logically speaking be either due to the presence of unseen dark matter particles or due to a change in the way gravity works in these situations. Until recently there was little reason to doubt that general relativity correctly describes gravity in all circumstances.