# Physics

## The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything

In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams, the number 42 was revealed to be the “Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything”. But he didn’t say what the question was! I will reveal that here. In fact it is a simple geometry question, which then turns out to be related to the mathematics underlying string theory.

#### Speaker Biography

John Baez is a leader in the area of mathematical physics at the interface between quantum field theory and category theory, and has broad interests in mathematics, and science more generally. He created one of the earliest blogs "This week's finds in Mathematical Physics" (before the term blog existed!)

Baez did his PhD at MIT, and was a Gibbs Instructor at Yale before moving to University of California, Riverside in 1988.

#### About the series

Starting in 2021, PIMS has inaugurated a high-level network-wide colloquium series. Distinguished speakers will give talks across the full PIMS network with one talk per month during the academic term. The 2021 speaker series is part of the PIMS 25th Anniversary showcase.

## Crystallography of hyperbolic lattices: from children's drawings to Fuchsian groups

yperbolic Lattices are tessellations of the hyperbolic plane

using, for instance, heptagons or octagons. They are relevant for quantum

error correcting codes and experimental simulations of quantum physics in

curved space. Underneath their perplexing beauty lies a hidden and,

perhaps, unexpected periodicity that allows us to identify the unit cell

and Bravais lattice for a given hyperbolic lattice. This paves the way for

applying powerful concepts from solid state physics and, potentially,

finding a generalization of Bloch's theorem to hyperbolic lattices. In my

talk, I will explain some of the mathematics underlying this hyperbolic

crystallography.

For other events in this series see the quanTA events website

.

## The geometry of the spinning string

The development of quantum electrodynamics is one of the major achievements of theoretical physics and mathematics of the 20th century, called the "Jewel of physics" by Richard Feynman. This talk is not about that. Instead, I explain two of its basic ingredients - Feynman diagrams, and Spinor bundles - and then describe how these can be adapted to "electron-like" strings. This will lead us naturally to the Spinor bundle on loop space, which I will describe in some detail. An element of loop space, i.e. a smooth function from the circle into some fixed manifold, is supposed to represent a string at a fixed moment in time. I will then explain the notion of a fusion product (on this bundle), and argue that this is a manifestation of the principle of locality, which is ubiquitous in physics. If time permits, I will discuss some ongoing work, in collaboration with Matthias Ludewig, Darvin Mertsch, and Konrad Waldorf, where we describe how this fusive spinor bundle on loop space fits beautifully in the higher categorical framework of 2-vector bundles.

## Combinatorial structures in perturbative quantum field theory

I will give an overview of a few places where combinatorial structures have an interesting role to play in quantum field theory and which I have been involved in to varying degrees, from the Connes-Kreimer Hopf algebra and other renormalization Hopf algebras, to the combinatorics of Dyson-Schwinger equations and the graph theory of Feynman integrals.

For other events in this series see the quanTA events website.

## The topology and geometry of the space of gapped lattice systems

Recently there has been a lot of progress in classifying phases of gapped quantum many-body systems. From the mathematical viewpoint, a phase of a quantum system is a connected component of the “space” of gapped quantum systems, and it is natural to study the topology of this space. I will explain how to probe it using generalizations of the Berry curvature. I will focus on the case of lattice systems where all constructions can be made rigorous. Coarse geometry plays an important role in these constructions.

## The Infinite HaPPY Code

I will construct an infinite-dimensional analog of the HaPPY code as a growing series of stabilizer codes defined respective to their Hilbert spaces. These Hilbert spaces are related by isometries that will be defined during this talk. I will analyze its system in various aspects and discuss its implications in AdS/CFT. Our result hints that the relevance of quantum error correction in quantum gravity may not be limited to the CFT context.

For other events in this series see the quanTA events website.

- Read more about The Infinite HaPPY Code
- 545 reads

## Conformal field theories and quantum phase transitions: an entanglement perspective

Quantum phase transitions occur when a quantum system undergoes a sharp change in its ground state, e.g. between a ferro- and para-magnet. I will present a remarkable set of transitions, called quantum critical, that are described by conformal field theories (CFTs). I will focus on 2 and 3 spatial dimensions, where the conformal symmetry is powerful yet less constraining than in 1 dimension. We will probe these scale-invariant theories via the structure of their quantum entanglement. The methods will include large-N expansions, the AdS/CFT duality from string theory, and large-scale numerical simulations. Finally, we’ll see that certain quantum Hall states, which are topological in nature, possess very similar entanglement properties. This hints at broader principles that relate very different quantum states.

For other events in this series see the quanTA events website.

## Integers in many-body quantum physics

Although integers are ubiquitous in quantum physics, they have different mathematical origins. In this colloquium, I will give a glimpse of how integers arise as either topological invariants or as analytic indices, as is the case in the so-called quantum Hall effect. I will explain the difficulties arising in extending well-known arguments when one relaxes the approximation that the particles effectively do not interact with each other in matter. Recent advances have made such realistic generalizations possible.

## From Euler to Born and Infeld, Fluids and Electromagnetism

As the Euler theory of hydrodynamics (1757), the Born-Infeld theory of electromagnetism (1934) enjoys a simple and beautiful geometric structure. Quite surprisingly, the BI model which is of relativistic nature, shares many features with classical hydro- and magnetohydro-dynamics. In particular, I will discuss its very close connection with Moffatt’s topological approach to Euler equations, through the concept of magnetic relaxation.

The Marsden Memorial Lecture Series is dedicated to the memory of Jerrold E Marsden (1942-2010), a world-renowned Canadian applied mathematician. Marsden was the Carl F Braun Professor of Control and Dynamical Systems at Caltech, and prior to that he was at the University of California (Berkeley) for many years. He did extensive research in the areas of geometric mechanics, dynamical systems and control theory. He was one of the original founders in the early 1970’s of reduction theory for mechanical systems with symmetry, which remains an active and much studied area of research today.

This lecture is part of the Centre Interfacultaire Bernoulli Workshop on Classic and Stochastic Geometric Mechanics, June 8-12, 2015, which in turn is a part of the CIB program on

Geometric Mechanics, Variational and Stochastic Methods, 1 January to 30 June 2015.

## From the Adinkras of Supersymmetry to the Music of Arnold Schoenberg

The concept of supersymmetry, though never observed in Nature, has been one of the primary drivers of investigations in theoretical physics for several decades. Through all of this time, there have remained questions that are unsolved. This presentation will describe how looking at such questions one can be led to the 'Dodecaphony Technique' of Austrian composer Schoenberg.

Jim Gates is a theoretical physicist known for work on supersymmetry, supergravity and superstring theory. He is currently a Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland, College Park, a University of Maryland Regents Professor and serves on President Barack Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

Gates was nominated by the US Department of Energy to present his work and career to middle and high school students in October 2010. He is on the board of trustees of Society for Science & the Public, he was a Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Scholar at MIT (2010-11) and was a Residential Scholar at MIT’s Simmons Hall. On February 1, 2013, Gates received the National Medal of Science.