This series covers all areas of research at Perimeter Institute, as well as those outside of PI's scope.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are two notions that play a central role in the mathematical theory of computation. One is that of a computable problem, i.e., of a problem that can, in principle, be solved by an (idealized) computer. It is known that there exist problems that \'have answers\', but for which those answers are not computable. The other is that of the difficulty of a computation, i.e. of the number of (idealized) steps required actually to carry out that computation.
At a very basic level, physics is about what we can say about propositions like \'A has a value in S\' (or \'A is in S\' for short), where A is some physical quantity like energy, position, momentum etc. of a physical system, and S is some subset of the real line. In classical physics, given a state of the system, every proposition of the form \'A is in S\' is either true or false, and thus classical physics is realist in the sense that there is a \'way things are\'. In contrast to that, quantum theory only delivers a probability of \'A is in S\' being true.
It is common to assert that the discovery of quantum theory overthrew our classical conception of nature. But what, precisely, was overthrown? Providing a rigorous answer to this question is of practical concern, as it helps to identify quantum technologies that outperform their classical counterparts, and of significance for modern physics, where progress may be slowed by poor physical intuitions and where the ability to apply quantum theory in a new realm or to move beyond quantum theory necessitates a deep understanding of the principles upon which it is based.