» Talks with Michael Berry

Chapman University’s Institute for Quantum Studies is please to host renowned physicist Sir Michael Berry for a series of talks the week of October 2 through 8. All talks are free and open to the public. Sir Michael is a Distinguished Visiting Professor in Chapman's Institute for Quantum Studies and is Professor Emeritus at Bristol University in England. He is well known for his numerous important contributions to science and has received many top honors and scientific awards, including the Wolf Prize (with Chapman Professor Yakir Aharonov). He was knighted in 1996.

"We are thrilled to announce more popular talks from extraordinary members of the Institute for Quantum Studies,” said Jeff Tollaksen, Ph.D. and co-director of the Institute. "You may remember past popular talks from Institute members such as Nobel Laureates Englert, Gross, and Leggett or some of the best science orators in the world such as Paul Davies or Sean Carroll.  Now we have yet another treat: Sir Michael Berry will be offering 7 talks during his visit. He is one of the best public speakers that I know, so this is a great opportunity for anyone of any age to come to listen and especially ask questions of this icon of modern science,” continued Dr. Tollaksen.

Sir Michael is well known for many fundamental discoveries including the Berry phase, the sister-phenomenon to the Aharonov-Bohm phase. The first talk will include participation for Chapman’s Yakir Aharonov, (oh the Aharonov-Bohm phase discovery), co-director of the Institute for Quantum Studies and a National Medal of Science winner for his work in physics; as well as Daniele Struppa, Ph.D., chancellor of Chapman University.

A Few Physics Wonders

A popular talk by Sir Michael Berry

Friday, October 2

3–4 p.m.

Beckman Hall, Room 104

This talk is for anyone interested in science and who finds the work of great physicists like Einstein or Hawking inspirational.

Sir Michael Berry, one of the world's most renowned scientists, will talk about some of the beautiful things that physicists actually do. He will use non-technical language with a multi-media experience that will be accessible to everyone.

Sometimes nature and technology illustrate the abstract ideas of physics in beautiful ways. Sir Michael will discuss a few selected ‘wonders’ – from many ‘wonders’ – including the great moon-driven river wave, light interference magnified in rainbows, and music democratized by quantum physics.

Sir Michael will then be accompanied by Chapman's Professor Aharonov and Chancellor Daniele Struppa for an accessible, open dialogue with the audience.

President Obama awarded Yakir Aharonov the nation’s highest science award – The National Medal of Science in 2010 (?) - for:  “his work in quantum physics which ranges from the Aharonov-Bohm effect, to the notion of weak measurement, making him one of the most influential figures in modern physics.”


Following the popular talk above, Sir Michael Berry will host a series of additional talks during his time at Chapman. Again, all are free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served. Here is the schedule and titles of the talks:

 “Superoscillations I: Basics, Shifted Fourier Transforms”

Friday, October 2, 5-6 p.m.

Argyros Forum, Room 212


“Superoscillations II: Optical Vorticulture”

Monday, October 5, 5-6 p.m.

Argyros Forum, Room 212


“Superoscillations III: Analytic Aspects”

Tuesday, October 6, 5-6 p.m.

Argyros Forum, Room 212


“Superoscillations IV: Statistics, Neutrinos, Beam Shifts”

Wednesday, October 7, 5-6 p.m.

Argyros Forum, Room 212


“Superoscillations V: Persistence and Superresolution”

Thursday, October 8, 4-5 p.m.

Argyros Forum, Room 212


Abstract: We are taught that if waves with a variety of wavelengths are superposed, then we cannot create structures whose details are smaller than the shortest wavelength in the original superposition. But this is not correct. That is, even if the smallest wave has a wavelength of 1m, we can create arbitrarily detailed structures, say, with feature sizes of 1mm. This is called a superoscillation with applications in signal processing and imaging.


Sir Michael Berry will host an additional talk that is not a part of the superoscillation series above:

“Divergent Series: From Thomas Bayes’s Bewilderment to Today’s Resurgence Via the Rainbow”

Thursday, October 8, noon-1 p.m.

Argyros Forum, Room 212

Abstract: Following the discovery by Bayes in 1747 that Stirling’s series for the factorial is divergent, the study of asymptotic series has today reached the stage of enabling summation of the divergent tails of many series with an accuracy far beyond that of the smallest term. Several of these advances sprang from developments of Airy’s theory of waves near optical caustics such as the rainbow. Key understandings by Euler, Stokes, Dingle and Écalle unify the different series corresponding to different parameter domains, culminating in the concept of resurgence: quantifying the way in which the low orders of such series reappear in the high orders.

The U.S. Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu, himself a Nobel Laureate in Physics, has said:

“The Institute for Quantum Studies will be a place of inspiration, insight, and imagination. The fields it will further are important to the strength of the nation. But even more critical is the commitment the Institute has made to deepen our nation’s appreciation for the importance of science, and to convey the mystery and wonder of the universe to our citizens.”

Sir Michael is endeared throughout the world for sharing his delight in finding the arcane in the mundane. We are greatly honored by the time he spends at Chapman.

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