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Department of Mathematical Sciences

Seminar Archives

On this page you can find information about seminars in this and previous academic years, where available on the database.

Centre for Particle Theory Colloquia: Hamilton's diabolical singularity

Presented by Michael Berry, University of Bristol

10 February 2009 16:15 in CLC 202

Hamilton's first application of the concept of phase space - later so fruitful in physics - was a prediction in optics: conical refraction in biaxial crystals. This was one of the first successful predictions of a qualitatively new phenomenon using mathematics, and created a sensation. At the heart of conical refraction is a singularity, anticipating the fermionic sign change underlying the Pauli exclusion principle and the conical intersections now studied in quantum chemistry. The light emerging from the crystal contains many subtle diffraction details, whose definitive understanding and observation have been achieved only recently.

Generalizations of the phenomenon involve radically different mathematical structures.

Contact or or or for more information

Coffee and biscuits at 15:30 in CM 211 (Maths Coffee Room).