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Evening Public Lecture: Optica fantastica - Images to illuminate the physics of light

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Speaker: Professor Sir Michael Berry
Event date: Thursday, 17 May 2018 06:00 pm - 07:00 pm
Place: Kirchberg Campus, Room Paul Feidert.
6 Rue Richard Coudenhove-Kalergi, 1359 Luxembourg.

Seas sparkle, sunshine generates rainbows, ships make waves. The explanations of these familiar phenomena are as abstract as elsewhere in physics, but pictures are helpful because in light and water waves we can often see what we are talking about. There are other optical phenomena that are not immediately perceived (associated with polarization or fine-scale interference, for example), but even with these we can generate pictures to help our understanding. Poets and novelists, as well as painters, have sometimes represented optical phenomena in ways that are surprisingly close to those of physicists.

 

Professor Sir Michael Berry (University of Bristol) is a theoretical physicist known for his research in the ‘borderlands’ between classical and quantum theories and ray and wave optics. His emphasis is on geometrical singularities such as ray caustics and wave vortices.
Michael discovered the geometric phase, a phase difference arising from cyclically changing conditions with applications in many areas of wave physics, including polarisation optics and condensed matter. He delights in finding the arcane in the mundane: mathematical singularities in rainbows and the dancing lines at the bottom of swimming pools; the twists and turns of a belt that underlie the quantum behaviour of identical particles; a laser pointer shone through bathroom window glass to demonstrate abstract aspects of wave interference; and oriental magic mirrors, illustrating the mathematical Laplace operator.
He has received numerous awards, including the Maxwell Medal and the Dirac Medal of the Institute of Physics, the Royal Society’s Royal Medal, the London Mathematical Society’s Pólya Prize, the Wolf Prize and the Lorentz Medal. He serves on scientific committees of various institutes and was knighted in 1996.

Free entrance.
Registration is required before the 11th of May 2018.

The speech will be followed by a question-and-answer session. A reception will take place afterwards.

In collaboration with The Bridge Forum Dialogue a.s.b.l.

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Professor Sir Michael Berry is also giving another speech on the 18th of May in Limpertsberg Campus: "Physics Colloquium: Variations on a theme of Aharonov and Bohm"

Optica fantastica - Images to illuminate the physics of light