Thursday, May 24, 2012
Physics Research Conference
From Black Holes to Biological Membranes: Utilizing the Local Nature of Physical Laws to Simplify Complex Problems
Ira Rothstein, Professor of Physics, Carnegie Mellon University
The tractability of a physical problem is typically strongly correlated with the number of length scales involved. Mathematically this can be seen by noting that our ability to solve differential equations is greatly reduced as the number of dimensionful parameters involved grows. However, since the pioneering work of Wilson on the fluctuations in critical phenomena, we have learned that scales can be effectively separated and dealt with one at a time. In so doing we can begin to solve complex problems in a systematic fashion. The underlying reason allowing for this scale separation is the local nature of all interactions. In this talk I will discuss how we can utilize this locality principle in generalized settings to solve complex problems including: gravity wave production in black holes inspirals, accurate Higgs production rate profiles and the fluctuation induced forces between bodies living on membranes.