Domesticating the Quantum
Following its discovery, the quantum became central to our quest for a fundamental understanding of nature, from the structure of atoms and light to the Standard Model of particle physics, and beyond. As we learned how to tame, and increasingly how to domesticate the quantum, this also resulted in a technological `Quantum Revolution’ with a profound impact on our lives. This goes from the utterly devastating – with the invention of weapons capable of destroying civilization in the blink of an eye, to the most empowering – from medical imaging to the GPS, from the transistor to the laser, and from the internet to the smart phone. Following a brief review of these developments the lecture will focus on a more counter-intuitive aspect of quantum reality, what Einstein called “spooky action at a distance.” I will discuss how worldwide efforts at domesticating this elusive quantum attribute may lead to a `Second Quantum Revolution,’ with much promise for quantum communications, quantum metrology and quantum computing.
8 Mar 2017
A Myriad of Particles
From the beginning of civilization, we have attempted to reduce our world to its simplest components. This search resulted in the discovery of the electron and culminated in the recent detection of the Higgs boson. Our current model of the particle world is stunningly successful in describing the Universe as we know it. Yet we do not understand many of the underlying principles that shape the natural world. The nature of mysterious things such as dark matter and dark energy are as yet unknown to us. This lecture will describe the journey that has culminated in our current understanding of our Universe, while pointing to the discoveries that are yet to be made.
1 Mar 2017
Space, Time and Gravity
At the dawn of the twentieth century, Einstein revolutionized our conception of reality, showing that space and time are not merely the stage on which the show unfolds, but dynamical entities that stretch, bend, and vibrate to give rise to the force we know as gravity. A century later, the vibrations of spacetime have been directly detected as gravitational radiation from colliding black holes, confirming Einstein’s prediction and ushering in a new era in observational astronomy. How did physicists measure these minuscule vibrations, and what does it mean for our understanding of the universe? And what is the next revolution, fomenting right now, in our conception of space and time?
16 Feb 2017
The Journey to the Extreme
The Universe presents us with a myriad of extreme objects where our understanding of physical reality is continuously challenged. Do normal nuclei dissolve into quarks and perhaps into other new particles in the cores of neutron stars? What is the boundary between normal matter and a black hole’s infinite energy density, enshrouded by an event horizon? Why are our theories of gravity and quantum mechanics incompatible?The quest for answers continue with the development of new physical laws, Earth-sized telescopes, and an unending joyful journey to the edge of the extreme.
8 Feb 2017
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Rethinking the Rules of Reality
In this series kickoff lecture, we take a tour through some of the most cutting-edge concepts in modern physics. After discussing the connections between symmetries, forces, and conservation laws, we describe the fundamental building blocks of the natural world and what they tell us about where physics might be heading in the future. Finally, we discuss how physics gives rise to “weirdness at the extremes”, including the emergence of a new “dark sector” populated by modern ghosts.
2 Feb 2017