The Quantum Pontiff

Chairs

Two notes on chairs. Michael Green is the new Lucasian chair of Mathematics replacing the esteemed Stephen Hawking. Green helped sparked the great optimism in string theory by discovering with John Schwarz the Green-Schwarz anomaly cancellation mechanism.

Elsewhere, the Perimeter Institute has named ten new distinguished research chairs, among them a host of the quantum computing afflicted:

Dorit Aharonov is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She has made major contributions to the theoretical foundations of quantum computation, in particular in the context of understanding and counteracting the effects of ‘noisy’ environments on delicate quantum systems performing computations, the identification of a quantum to classical phase transition in fault tolerant quantum computers, the development of new tools and approaches for the design of quantum algorithms, and the study of ground states of many body quantum Hamiltonians for various classes of Hamiltonians, from a computational complexity point of view. In 2006 she was awarded the Krill prize for excellence in scientific research. Dr. Aharonov is on the faculty of Perimeter Scholars International.

Patrick Hayden holds the Canada Research Chair in the Physics of Information at McGill University. His research focuses on finding efficient methods for performing the communication tasks that will be required for large-scale quantum information processing. This includes the development of methods for reliably sending quantum states through ‘noisy’ media and for protecting quantum information from unauthorized manipulation. He has also applied these techniques to the question of information loss from black holes. Among Dr. Hayden’s honors, he is a past Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow and Rhodes Scholar.

Christopher Isham is a Senior Research Investigator and Emeritus Professor of Theoretical Physics at Imperial College London. He is a former Senior Dean of the College. Dr Isham has made many important contributions in the fields of quantum gravity and the foundations of quantum mechanics. Motivated by the ‘problem of time’ in quantum gravity, he developed a new approach to quantum theory known as the ‘HPO formalism’ that enables the theory to be extended to situations where there is no normal notion of time (such as in Einstein’s theory of general relativity). Since the late 1990s, Dr. Isham has been developing a completely new approach to formulating theories of physics based on the mathematical concept of a ‘topos’. This gives a radically new way of understanding the traditional problems of quantum theory as well as providing a framework in which to develop new theories that would not have been conceived using standard mathematics. From 2001-2005, Dr. Isham was a member of Perimeter Institute’s Scientific Advisory Committee; during the last year he was the Chair of the Committee.

Leo Kadanoff is a theoretical physicist and applied mathematician based at the James Franck Institute at the University of Chicago. He is considered a pioneer of complexity theory, and has made important contributions to research in the properties of matter, the development of urban areas, statistical models of physical systems, and the development of chaos in simple mechanical and fluid systems. His is best known for the development of the concepts of “scale invariance” and “universality” as they are applied to phase transitions. More recently, he has been involved in the understanding of singularities in fluid flow. Among Dr. Kadanoff’s many honours, he is a past recipient of the National Medal of Science (US), the Grande Medaille d’Or of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France, the Wolf Foundation Prize, the Boltzmann Medal of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics, and the Centennial Medal of Harvard University. He is also a past President of the American Physical Society. Dr. Kadanoff is on the faculty of Perimeter Scholars International.

Renate Loll is a Professor of Theoretical Physics and a member of the Institute for Theoretical Physics in the Faculty of Physics and Astronomy at Utrecht University. Her research centers on quantum gravity, the search for a consistent theory that describes the microscopic constituents of spacetime geometry and the quantum-dynamical laws governing their interaction. She has made major contributions to loop quantum gravity, and with her collaborators, has proposed a novel theory of Quantum Gravity via ‘Causal Dynamical Triangulations.’ Dr. Loll heads one of the largest research groups on nonperturbative quantum gravity worldwide, and is the recipient of a prestigious personal VICI-grant of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research. She is also a faculty member of Perimeter Scholars International.

Malcolm Perry is a Professor of Theoretical Physics in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. His research centers upon general relativity, supergravity and string theory. Dr. Perry has made major contributions to string theory, Euclidean quantum gravity, and our understanding of black hole radiation. With Perimeter Institute Faculty member Robert Myers, he developed the Myers-Perry metric, which shows how to construct black holes in the higher spacetime dimensions associated with string theory. Dr. Perry’s honours include an Sc. D. from the University of Cambridge. Dr. Perry is also on the faculty of Perimeter Scholars International.

Sandu Popescu is a Professor of Physics at the H. H. Wills Physics Laboratory at the University of Bristol, and a member of the Bristol Quantum Information and Computation Group. He has made numerous contributions to quantum theory, ranging from the very fundamental, to the design of practical experiments (such as the first teleportation experiment), to patentable commercial applications. His investigations into the nature of quantum behavior, with particular focus on quantum non-locality, led him to discover some of the central concepts in the emerging area of quantum information and computation. He is a past recipient of the Adams Prize (Cambridge), and the Clifford Patterson Prize of the Royal Society (UK).

William Unruh is a Professor of Physics at the University of British Columbia who has made seminal contributions to our understanding of gravity, black holes, cosmology, quantum fields in curved spaces, and the foundations of quantum mechanics, including the discovery of the Unruh effect. His investigations into the effects of quantum mechanics of the earliest stages of the universe have yielded many insights, including the effects of quantum mechanics on computation. Dr. Unruh was the first Director of the Cosmology and Gravity Program at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (1985-1996). His many awards include the Rutherford Medal of the Royal Society of Canada (1982), the Herzberg Medal of the Canadian Association of Physicists (1983), the Steacie Prize from the National Research Council (1984), the Canadian Association of Physicists Medal of Achievement (1995), and the Canada Council Killam Prize. He is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of London, and a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Science.

Guifre Vidal is a Professor in the School of Physical Sciences at the University of Queensland, who has made important contributions to the development of quantum information science, with applications to condensed matter theory. His research explores the phenomenon of entanglement, the renormalization group, and the development of tensor network algorithms to simulate quantum systems. Dr. Vidal’s past honors include a Marie Curie Fellowship, awarded by the European Union, and a Sherman Fairchild Foundation Fellowship. He is a Federation Fellow of the Australian Research Council.

Mark Wise is the John A. McCone Professor of High Energy Physics at the California Institute of Technology. He has conducted research in elementary particle physics and cosmology, and shared the 2001 Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics for the development of the ‘Heavy Quark Effective Theory’ (HQET), a mathematical formalism that enables physicists to make predictions about otherwise intractable problems in the theory of the strong interactions of quarks. He has also published work on mathematical models for finance and risk assessment. Dr. Wise is a past Sloan Foundation fellow, a fellow of the American Physical Society, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the National Academy of Sciences.

Comments

  1. #1 Ian Durham
    October 20, 2009

    Ah, that kind of chair. Here I got hopeful that you were recognizing those of us dumb enough to be named chair of entire departments. Silly me. Nonetheless, there ought to be an award for putting up with pointless paperwork and endless meetings.

  2. #2 tcmJOE
    October 22, 2009

    Mark Wise also gets my vote for awesome teacher. He’s a class act.

  3. #3 Neil B ☺
    October 22, 2009

    Dorit is the niece of Yakir Aharonov.

  4. #4 Dave Bacon
    October 22, 2009

    Or from an equally valid perspective Yakir is her uncle. :)