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Theoretical Physics  Group (TPG)

The TPG in the AIP is focused on all areas of theoretical physics, from elementary particles in the quantum realm to the universe, and everything in between. Many, if not all, of these areas have an overlap with the other AIP topical groups. Purely theoretical studies in physics have lead to amazing technological changes in society, including computers and satellite communication.

Who Can Join the TPG?

Any members of the AIP who are interested in theoretical physics can join the TP Group as part of their AIP membership at no extra charge. To sign up to the TP Group, login to the Membership portal, then click on Theoretical Physics (TPG) under Topical Groups in your Membership Profile. Please take the time to do this as it gives the AIP a gauge of how much interest there is in TPG across Australia and beyond.

TPG 2022 Committee 

News and Upcoming Events

Asia-Pacific Center for Theoretical Physics (APCTP) 

Who Are APCTP?

2022 AAPPS-APCTP C N Yang Award

AIP TPG Seminar Series

Organisers: Murray Batchelor (ANU), Nicole Bell (Melbourne), Gavin Brennan (Macquarie), Eric Cavalcanti (Griffith), Susan Coppersmith (UNSW), Archil Kobakhidze (Sydney), Sergei Kuzenko (UWA), Karen Livesey (Newcastle), Meera Parish (Monash), Margaret Reid (Swinburne), James Zanotti (Adelaide), Magdalena Zych (UQ)

Host presenter: David Tilbrook (ANU)

Next 2022 seminars: 

(1) Searching for Dark Matter Scattering, on Earth and in the Stars,  Nicole Bell (Melbourne)

Thursday 30 June 1pm AEST 

(2) Masaki Oshikawa (ISSP, Tokyo)

Thursday 21 July 1pm AEST 

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  • 22 Jun 2022 7:22 PM | Anonymous

    Thursday 30 June 1pm AEST

    Click here to register.

    Abstract: The quest to identify the cosmological dark matter is one of the foremost goals of science today. Yet the very nature of dark matter makes this a formidable task. l outline the status of dark matter direct detection searches, and describe new strategies to probe dark matter scattering using existing detectors, such as the Migdal effect, with particular application to light or inelastic dark matter. Complementary information about dark matter scattering can be obtained by considering the capture of dark matter in stars. For a wide range of parameters, collisions between ambient dark matter and the constituents of a star would result in sufficient energy loss for the dark matter to become gravitationally bound to the star, with important observational consequences. I describe applications of dark matter capture in the Sun, white dwarfs, and neutron stars. 

  • 23 May 2022 6:34 PM | Anonymous

    Thursday 9 June 1pm AEST

    Click here to watch the recording on the AIP YouTube channel.

    Abstract:  Turbulence is the last great unsolved problem of classical physics. But there is no consensus on what it would mean to actually solve this problem. In this colloquium, I propose that turbulence is most fruitfully regarded as a problem in non-equilibrium statistical mechanics, and will show that this perspective explains turbulent drag behavior measured over 80 years, and makes predictions that have been experimentally tested in 2D turbulent soap films. I will also explain how this perspective is useful in understanding the laminar-turbulence transition, establishing it as a non-equilibrium phase transition whose critical behavior has been predicted and tested experimentally.  This work connects transitional turbulence with statistical mechanics and renormalization group theory, high energy hadron scattering, the statistics of extreme events, and even population biology.

  • 6 May 2022 8:47 AM | Anonymous

    Thursday 19 May 1pm AEST

    Click here  to watch the recording on the AIP YouTube channel.

    Abstract:  Novel dynamical phases that violate ergodicity have been a subject of extensive research in recent years. A periodically driven system is naively expected to lose all memory of its initial state due to thermalisation, yet this can be avoided in the presence of many-body localization. A discrete time crystal represents a driven system whose local observables spontaneously break time translation symmetry and retain memory of the initial state indefinitely. Here, we report the observation of a discrete time crystal on a chain consisting of 57 superconducting qubits on a state-of-the art quantum computer.

  • 21 Apr 2022 8:53 AM | Anonymous

    Thursday 28 April 2pm AEST

    Click here  to watch the recording on the AIP YouTube channel.

    Abstract:  Results from oscillation experiments have established that neutrinos have small but non-zero mass and there is mixing between different neutrino flavours. This signals that there is Physics Beyond the Standard Model. The remaining neutrino oscillation parameters to be determined by the current and future experiments are the neutrino mass ordering, octant of the atmospheric mixing angle and the CP phase of the neutrinos.  In my talk, I will discuss the current status of the neutrino oscillation parameters, the challenges in the precise determination of the parameters and the prospects of determining these in the future experiments. I will also discuss the possibilities of probing other physics scenarios beyond the standard model in neutrino oscillation experiments. 

  • 18 Mar 2022 11:56 AM | Anonymous

    Thursday 24 March 1pm AEDT

    Click here  to watch the recording on the AIP YouTube channel.

    Abstract: Experimental metaphysics is the study of how empirical results can reveal indisputable facts about the fundamental nature of the world, independent of any theory. It is a field born from Bell’s 1964 theorem, and the experiments it inspired, proving the world cannot be both local and deterministic. However, there is an implicit assumption in Bell’s theorem, that the observed result of any measurement is absolutely real (it has some value that is not real only to the observer who made it, or only in the ‘branch’ in which it appears). This assumption is called into question when one thinks of the observer as a quantum system (the “Wigner’s Friend” scenario), which has recently been the subject of renewed interest. In [1], I and co-workers derived a theorem, in experimental metaphysics, for this scenario. It is similar to Bell’s 1964 theorem but dispenses with the assumption of determinism. We show that the remaining assumptions, which we collectively call "local friendliness", are still predicted, by most approaches to quantum mechanics, to be violable. We illustrate this in an experiment in which the “friend” system is a single photonic qubit. In [2], I and other co-workers argue that a truly convincing experiment could be realised if that system were a sufficiently advanced artificial intelligence software running on a very large quantum computer, so that it could be regarded genuinely as a friend. We formulate a new version of the theorem for that situation, using six assumptions, each of which is violated in at least one approach to quantum theory. The popular attitude that “quantum theory needs no interpretation” is untenable because it does not indicate that any of the assumptions are invalid.

    [1] Bong et al., “A strong no-go theorem on the Wigner’s friend paradox”, Nature Physics 16, 1199 (2020).

    [2] Wiseman, Cavalcanti, and Rieffel, “A ‘thoughtful’ Local Friendliness no-go theorem”, in preparation.


  • 23 Feb 2022 10:18 AM | Anonymous

    Thursday 3 March 1pm AEDT

    Click here to watch the recording on the AIP YouTube channel.

    Abstract: A major goal of modern physics is to understand and test the regime where quantum mechanics and general relativity both play a role. Until recently, new effects of this regime were thought to be relevant only at high energies or in strong gravitational fields. I will discuss how and why looking at composite particles — with internal dynamical degrees of freedom — opens new avenues and may finally enable laboratory tests of quantum and general relativistic effects.  I will also show that such particles have a natural interpretation as ideal quantum clocks, detectors, and even thermometers, and will highlight recent insights arising from this approach: e.g. that semi-classical states of free composite particles are not Gaussian but a  new class of states derived from a new uncertainty inequality — for configuration space rather than for phase space variables.

  • 26 Nov 2021 8:59 AM | Anonymous

    Thursday 2 Dec 7pm AEDT

    Click here to watch the recording on YouTube.

    Abstract: Feynman’s original idea of using one quantum system that can be manipulated at will to simulate the behavior of another more complex one has flourished during the last decades in the field of cold atoms. More recently, this concept started to be developed in nanophotonics and in condensed matter. In this talk, I will discuss a few recent experiments, in which 2D electron lattices were engineered on the nanoscale using STM manipulation of adatoms on the surface of copper. First, I will show that it is possible to control the geometry of the lattice and the orbital degrees of freedom by building different Lieb lattices. Then, I will show how to realize topological states of matter using the same procedure. We investigate the robustness of the zero modes in a breathing Kagome lattice, which is the first experimental realization of a designed electronic higher-order topological insulator, and the fate of the edge modes in a Kekule structure, upon varying the type of boundary of the sample. Finally, we will control the effective dimension of the electronic structure by creating a Sierpinski gasket, which has dimension D = 1.58. The realization of this first quantum fractal opens the path to electronics in fractional dimensions. In addition, our recent investigation of quantum transport in fractals by using photonic quantum simulators might shed some light on the issue of consciousness. 

  • 15 Nov 2021 2:00 PM | Anonymous

    Thursday 18 November, 11am AEDT

    Click here to watch the recording on YouTube.

    Abstract: Open systems with loss or gain, described by effective non-Hermitian Hamiltonians, have attracted great attention in recent years. Such systems in general have complex energies and nonorthogonal eigenstates, and their degeneracies are known as exceptional points. The complex energies near an exceptional point form a Riemann manifold, whose topology enables a new control method and has found applications in energy transport and mode switch. In this talk, I will present our recent work on dynamical control of a non-Hermitian superconducting qubit. By varying the Hamiltonian parameters in real time to encircle an exceptional point, we observe that the qubit initialized at one eigenstate is transported to another eigenstate. We further study the chiral geometric phase associated with quantum coherent state transport on the Riemann manifold. In addition, I will discuss non-Hermitian physics based on Liouvillian superoperators, which goes beyond the existing Hamiltonian formalism and allows us to observe decoherence-induced exceptional points.

  • 17 Sep 2021 4:00 PM | Anonymous

    Abstract: Massive mechanical oscillators have recently been measured and controlled in the quantum regime, providing a testbed for investigating the limits of quantum mechanics and its possible interplay with gravity. The stabilized entanglement of massive mechanical oscillators has been measured both indirectly and directly. Further, sensing of the motion of a mechanical oscillator beyond conventional quantum limits has been demonstrated. There exist further proposals for the realization of enhanced force sensing and many-body quantum state control in optomechanics, and problems in optomechanics have spurred the development of novel theoretical techniques.

    Click here to watch the recording on YouTube.

  • 14 Sep 2021 9:01 AM | Anonymous

    Quantum Nature of Gravity in the Lab: Assumptions, Implementation and Applications on the Way

    Abstract: There is no empirical evidence yet as to “whether” gravity has a quantum mechanical origin. Motivated by this, Sougato Bose presents a feasible idea for testing the quantum origin of the Newtonian interaction based on the simple fact that two objects cannot be entangled without a quantum mediator. He shows that despite its weakness, gravity can detectably entangle two adjacent micron sized test masses held in quantum superpositions even when they are placed far apart enough to keep Casimir-Polder forces at bay. A prescription for witnessing this entanglement through spin correlations is also provided. Further, he clarifies the assumptions underpinning the above proposal such as our reasonable definition of “classicality”, as well as relativistic causality. He notes a few ways to address principal practical challenges: Decoherence, Screening EM forces and Inertial noise reduction. He also describes how unprecedented compact sensors for classical gravity (including meter scale sensors for low frequency gravitational waves) will arise on the way to the above grand goal.

    Click here to watch the recording on YouTube.

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