Michael Berry (H H Wills Physics Laboratory, University of Bristol, UK)
FR4 Oskar Kleins Auditorium
Thursday 25 April
15:15 - 17:00
The waves that describe systems in quantum physics can carry information about how their environment has been altered, for example by forces acting on them. This effect is the geometric phase. It also occurs in the optics of polarised light, where it goes back to the 1830s. The underlying mathematics is geometric: the phenomenon of parallel transport, which also explains how falling cats land on their feet, and why parking a car in a narrow space is difficult. Incorporating the back-reaction of the geometric phase on the dynamics of the changing environment exposes the unsolved problem of how strictly a system can be separated from a slowly-varying environment, and involves different mathematics: divergent infinite series.