Thursday, June 03, 201012:30 PM - 2:00 PMT-DO Conference Room (TA-3, Bldg 123, Room 121)|
Duncan O'DellMcMaster University
Caustics are singularities of the ray theory of light: places where the intensity diverges and the geometric theory fails. A well-known example is the rainbow; another is provided by the bright lines on the bottom of a swimming pool. Caustics are more generally known as “catastrophes” and can occur in quantum mechanics too, typically in semiclassical and mean-field theories. I will present some illustrative examples of catastrophes that have come up in my research in ultra-cold atoms, including atomic diffraction, atomic Josephson junctions and cavity QED. I hope to convince you that catastrophe theory is a useful tool for analyzing quantum systems in certain interesting limits.
Host: Diego Dalvit