This series covers all areas of research at Perimeter Institute, as well as those outside of PI's scope.
The standard method to study nonperturbative properties of quantum field theories is to Wick rotate the theory to Euclidean space and regulate it on a Euclidean Lattice. An alternative is "fuzzy field theory". This involves replacing the lattice field theory by a matrix model that approximates the field theory of interest, with the approximation becoming better as the matrix size is increased. The regulated field theory is one on a background noncommutative space. I will describe how this method works and present recent progress and surprises.
Several current experiments probe physics in the approximation in which Planck's constant and Newton's constant may be neglected, but, the Planck mass, is relevant. These include tests of the symmetry of the ground state of quantum gravity such as time delays in photons of different energies from gamma ray bursts. I will describe a new approach to quantum gravity phenomenology in this regime, developed with Giovanni Amelino-Camelia, Jersy Kowalski-Glikman and Laurent Freidel.
Traditional condensed matter physics is based on two theories: symmetry breaking theory for phases and phase transitions, and Fermi liquid theory for metals. Mean-field theory is a powerful method to describe symmetry breaking phases and phase transitions by assuming the ground state wavefunctions for many-body systems can be approximately described by direct product states. The Fermi liquid theory is another powerful method to study electron systems by assuming that the ground state wavefunctions for the electrons can be approximately described by Slater determinants.
How many interacting quantum (field) theories of four-dimensional geometry are there which have General Relativity as their classical limit? Some of us still harbour hopes that a quantum theory of gravity is "reasonably unique", i.e. characterized by a finite number of free parameters. One framework in which such universality may manifest itself is that of "Quantum Gravity from Causal Dynamical Triangulations (CDT)".
Cosmic strings, generic in brane inflationary models, may be detected by the current generation of gravitational wave detectors. An important source of gravitational wave emission is from isolated events on the string called cusps and kinks. I first review cosmic strings, discussing their effective action and motion, and showing how cusps and kinks arise dynamically. I then show how allowing for the motion of the strings in extra dimensions gives a potentially significant reduction in signal strength, and comment on current LIGO bounds.
Scattering amplitudes in gauge theories and gravity have extraordinary properties that are completely invisible in the textbook formulation of quantum field theory using Feynman diagrams. In the standard approach--going back to the birth of quantum field theory--space-time locality and quantum-mechanical unitarity are made manifest at the cost of introducing huge gauge redundancies in our description of physics.
To a first approximation, everything that happens at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN is a strong interaction process. If signals of supersymmetric particles or other new states are found at the LHC, the events that produce those signals will represent parts per trillion of the total sample of proton-proton scattering events and parts per billion of the sample of events with hard scattering of quarks and gluons. Can we predict the rates of QCD processes well enough to control their contribution to a tantalizing signal? What physics insights can assist this process? Can string theory help?
Graphene-like materials provide a unique opportunity to explore quantum-relativistic phenomena in a condensed matter laboratory. Interesting phenomena associated with the internal degrees of freedom, spin and valley, including quantum spin-Hall effect, have been theoretically proposed, but could not be observed so far largely due to disorder and density inhonogeneity. We show that weak magnetic field breaks the symmetries that protect flavor (spin, valley) degeneracy, and induces large bulk non-quantized flavor-Hall effect in graphene.
Quantum error correcting codes and topological quantum order (TQO) are inter-connected fields that study non-local correlations in highly entangled many-body quantum states. In this talk I will argue that each of these fields offers valuable techniques for solving problems posed in the other one. First, we will discuss the zero-temperature stability of TQO and derive simple conditions that guarantee stability of the spectral gap and the ground state degeneracy under generic local perturbations. These conditions thus can be regarded as a rigorous definition of TQO.
The average quantum physicist on the street believes that a quantum-mechanical Hamiltonian must be Dirac Hermitian (invariant under combined matrix transposition and complex conjugation) in order to guarantee that the energy eigenvalues are real and that time evolution is unitary. However, the Hamiltonian $H=p^2+ix^3$, which is obviously not Dirac Hermitian, has a real positive discrete spectrum and generates unitary time evolution, and thus it defines a fully consistent and physical quantum theory.