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2008 Kac Lecture Series
March 17-19, 2008

Ludwig Boltzmann 1844-1906

Guest Lecturer
Professor Michael E. Fisher
Distinguished University Professor and Regents Professor
Institute for Physical Science and Technology
University of Maryland
Lecture Schedule:

(View .pdf poster)
Monday, March 17, 2008; 2:30-3:30 - Oppenheimer Study Center (2nd Floor, Jemez Room)
Atoms and Ions; Universality, Singularity and Particularity: On Boltzmann's Vision a Century Later

Ludwig Boltzmann died by his own hand 101 years ago last September. He was a passionate believer in atoms: underlying thermodynamics, he felt, lay a statistical world governed by the mechanics of individual particles. His struggles against critics — "Have you ever seen an atom?" taunted Ernst Mach — left him pessimistic. Nevertheless, following Maxwell and clarified by Gibbs, he established the science of Statistical Mechanics. But today, especially granted our understanding of critical singularities and their universality, how much do atomic particles and their charged partners, ions, really matter? The answers we have also met opposition. But Boltzmann would have welcomed the insights gained and approved of applications of statistical dynamics to biology, sociology, and other enterprises.

(View .pdf poster)
Tuesday, March 18, 2008; 2:30-3:30 - Oppenheimer Study Center (2nd Floor, Jemez Room)
Valency In Ionic Criticality: Field Theory fails, Simulation reports, Chemistry reveals

In a primitive model electrolyte or hard-sphere plasma with charges q+=-zq how does, z, the valency of the ions, affect the critical temperature and density? What trends should be expected? It turns out that while a field theoretic perturbative calculation errs badly, careful simulations answer the question numerically. But how can one understand the answer? Basic, concrete physicochemical ideas going back to Debye and Hückel, and to Bjerrum when implemented — which proves not so easy — provide insights which seem to capture the essentials. And they also reveal the interfacial Galvani potential that builds up between two coexisting phases and vanishes as criticality is approached.

(View .pdf poster)
Wednesday, March 19, 2008; 10:00 -11:00 - CNLS Conference Room (TA-3, Bldg 1690)

Charge Correlations in a Near-critical Plasma: Simulations challenge theory


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