This series covers all areas of research at Perimeter Institute, as well as those outside of PI's scope.
Mathematics has proven to be "unreasonably effective" in understanding nature. The fundamental laws of physics can be captured in beautiful formulae. In this lecture I want to argue for the reverse effect: Nature is an important source of inspiration for mathematics, even of the purest kind.
Augustine of Hippo declared he knew what time is until someone asked him. After 16 centuries we still largely ignore the true essence of time, but we made definite progress in studying its properties. The most striking, and somewhat intuitively (and tragically) obvious one is the irreversibility of its flow. And yet, our fundamental theories are time-reversal invariant, they do not distinguish between past and future. This is usually accounted for by assuming an immensely special initial condition of the Universe, dressed with statistical arguments.
I will talk about two types of random processes -- the classical Sherrington-Kirkpatrick (SK) model of spin glasses and its diluted version. One of the main motivations in these models is to find a formula for the maximum of the process, or the free energy, in the limit when the size of the system is getting large. The answer depends on understanding the structure of the Gibbs measure in a certain sense, and this structure is expected to be described by the so called Parisi solution in the SK model and Mézard-Parisi solution in the diluted SK model.
In this talk I will review the evidence for a mysterious and deep relationship between gravitational dynamics and thermodynamics. I will show how we can extend this connection to non equilibrium thermodynamics. Using the fact that the gravitational equations are fundamentally holographic, we express them in a way that shows a deep connection between gravity and the dynamics of viscous bubbles. We will explore some aspects of this surprising correspondence.
NIF is the world's most energetic laser system capable of producing over 1.8 MJ and 500 TW of ultraviolet light, about 100 times more than any other operating laser of its kind. This talk describes the unprecedented experimental capabilities of NIF, its role in fundamental science, the pathway to achieving fusion ignition and energy security missions, and the status of progress in these areas.
Time poses a fundamental problem in neuroscience, in part, because at its core the brain is a prediction machine: the brain evolved to allow animals to anticipate, adapt, and prepare for future events. To accomplish this function the brain tells time on scales spanning 12 orders of magnitude. In contrast to most man made clocks that share a very simply underlying principle-counting the "tics" of an oscillator-evolution has devised many different solutions to the problem of telling time.
I reexamine the current situation in particle and neutrino physics from a top-down perspective, discussing such underlying issues as uniqueness versus environment, minimality versus remnants, and naturalness versus tuning.
On de
Sitter space, there exists a special value for the mass of a graviton for which
the linear theory propagates 4 rather than 5 degrees of freedom. If a fully non-linear version of the theory
exists and can be coupled to known matter, it would have interesting properties
and could solve the cosmological constant problem. I will describe evidence for and obstructions
to the existence of such a theory.
Exoplanets, planets circling distant stars, are proving to be an extraordinary source of new thinking about the potential for life beyond Earth. Until recently, we have assumed that our Solar System and its planets were probably representative of such systems elsewhere. But the amazing array of very odd exoplanets that are being uncovered have stimulated a renaissance of thought on the subject of potential homes for life in the universe.
It has
recently been realized that some studies of supersymmetric gauge theories, when
properly interpreted, lead to insights whose importance transcends
supersymmetry. I will illustrate the insightful nature of supersymmetry by two
examples having to do with the microscopic description of the thermal
deconfinement transition, in non-supersymmetric pure Yang-Mills theory and in
QCD with adjoint fermions. A host of strange ``topological" molecules will
be seen to be the major players in the confinement-deconfinement dynamics.