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- Matteo Smerlak

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Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics

Phd: Université de la Méditerranée (France) 2011

Areas of Research:

Statistical Mechanics, Complex Systems

Phone: x6852

General relativity is our fundamental theory of space, time and gravity; it successfully accounts for such awe-inspiring phenomena as black hole formation and cosmological expansion. But it is also much more than that. Its geometric formulation, based on the concept of curved spacetime, provides a powerful framework to describe a variety of condensed-matter systems, from inhomogeneous fluid flows to Bose-Einstein condensates and gradient-index dielectrics. In my view, these "gravitational analogues'' or "analogue spacetimes'', offer a splendid opportunity to push further the boundaries of general relativity itself, especially where it interfaces with (i) quantum mechanics and (ii) equilibrium and non-equilibrium statistical mechanics.

My main research goal is to explore these interfaces to gain a better understanding of the relationships between fluctuations and gravity. The famous Hawking effect, whereby vacuum fluctuations are amplified and rectified into an outgoing flux of thermal particles, is a foremost example of the surprising phenomena arising at this interface. In a nutshell, I intend to make sense of the notion that "fluctuations are rectified by gravity'' in a broader sense. This investigation will lead me, I hope, to a deeper understanding of black hole thermodynamics.

I also entertain various research interests outside of gravitational physics. Recently these have included, among others: the robustness properties of banking networks (macro-economics), the statistical mechanics of Darwinian evolution (biology) and the stability properties of predator-prey dynamics (ecology). I am looking forward to discussing with anybody interested in these topics!

- 2011 - 2013 Junior Scientist, Albert Einstein Institute for Gravitational Physics (Potsdam, Germany)
- 2009 - 2011 Teaching assistant, Université de la Méditerranée (Marseille, France)
- 2007 - 2008 Teaching assistant, African Institute for the Mathematical Sciences (Cape Town, South Africa)
- 2006 - 2007 Physics tutor in experimental affirmative action class, Lycée Henri IV (Paris, France)

- Honorable Mention, Gravity Research Foundation Essay Competition 2013
- Riemann Fellowship, Riemann Center for Physics and Geometry (Hannover, Germany)

- Einstein2: Brownian Motion Meets General Relativity in Analogue Gravity Phenomenology (Faccio, Belgiorno, Cacciatori, Gorini, Liberati, Moschella eds), Springer, Lecture Notes in Physics 870, 2013

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