Professor Sir Michael V. Berry Visit

Professor Sir Michael V. Berry Visit


We are very excited to announce that from the 17th of April until the 29th of April, the Macquarie University Research Centre for Quantum Science and Technology and the Department of Physics of Astronomy will host a very distinguished guest: world-renowned theoretical physicist and mathematician Professor Sir Michael Berry. Sir Michael is well known in the physics and mathematics communities for his development of the concept of geometric phases (also known as Berry’s phase). His enormous contributions to the fields of mathematical physics and the borders between classical and quantum physics have been awarded with some of the most prestigious prizes in science and mathematics, including the Wolf Prize. Sir Michael also has a passion for the broader communication of scientific ideas in the community. In order to show Sir Michael the appreciation of the Australian community of his research we have set out a series of events that we hope will be of interest to you and your colleagues:

TUESDAY, 19TH OF APRIL, 18.30H - Public lecture by Sir Michael

How quantum physics democratized music: a meditation on physics and technology

Abstract: Connections between physics and technological invention and aspects of human life that seem far from science are both unexpected and unexpectedly common. And rather than flowing one way - from physics to gadgets - the connections form an intricate web, linking all aspects of human culture, in a way that frustrates our convenient compartmentalisations and coarse interventions aimed at promoting technology transfer. I will discuss this theme not abstractly but with examples, ranging from music to the colour of gold, and explain how quantum physics helps me do quantum physics (sic).

Please register here for attendance:
Location: Macquarie Theatre, Building W2.4A, Macquarie University

WEDNESDAY, 20TH OF APRIL, 16.00H - Conversations with Sir Michael Berry

Hosted by the Macquarie University Physics and Astronomy Association.

A singular conversation: conducted by Dr. Valentina Baccetti

Location: Department of Physics and Astronomy E6B 2.300, Macquarie University

FRIDAY, 22ND OF APRIL, FULL DAY EVENT - 1st Australian Workshop on the Angular Momentum of light (AWAMl). 

Including Sir Michael’s keynote lecture

Optical curl forces and beyond

Abstract: A physical example of a force that depends on position but is not derivable from a potential, that is, a nonconservative force with non-zero curl, is the force on a dielectric particle in an optical field. The resulting dynamics need not be Hamiltonian or Lagrangian, yet is non-dissipative. Noether’s theorem does not apply, so the link between symmetries and conservation laws is broken. Although unambiguous in optics, the physical existence of curl forces has been controversial among engineers. Motion under curl forces near optical vortices can be understood in detail, and the full series of ‘superadiabatic’ correction forces derived, leading to an exact slow manifold in which fast (internal) and slow (external) motion of the particle is separated. These classical optical forces have quantum effects. 
Invited speakers include: Prof. Min Gu (RMIT), Prof. Halina Rubinsztein-Dunlop (UQ) and Prof. Dragomir Neshev (ANU).
Please, register here for attendance:
Location: Forum Theater, Building C5C, Macquarie University

TUESDAY 26TH OF APRIL, 1300H - Deptartment of Physics and Astronomy Colloquium

In the spirit of Joe Moyal: Phase-space physics – diabolism, whorls and tendrils, wignereal disease, superoscillations…

Abstract: At the heart of conical refraction – Hamilton’s first physical prediction based on phase space – is a conical singularity: a diabolical point. Geometrical objects characterising the classical evolution of families of orbits are phase-space whorls (near stable fixed points) and tendrils (near unstable fixed points). The discordance between chaotic classical evolution and the corresponding quantum evolutions can be understood by the spreading of Wigner functions in phase space: slower as Planck’s constant increases. Notwithstanding the uncertainty principle, five equivalent local momenta can be associated with a quantum state, often describing spatial variations much faster than the fourier content of the state might suggest.
Location: Building E7B, Theatre 2

WEDNESDAY 27TH OF APRIL, NOON - Graduate lectures in QSciTech. Including the Master Class by Sir Michael

Divergent series: from Thomas Bayes’s bewilderment to today’s resurgence via the rainbow

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.

Please contact A/Prof Gavin Brennen if you wish to attend -
Location: Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, Building E6B Rm 2.300, Macquarie University

WEDNESDAY, 27TH APRIL, 19.00H - José Moyal Lecture

Sir Michael Berry will receive the Moyal Medal, and will give the José Moyal lecture.

Nature’s optics and our understanding of light

Abstract: Optical phenomena visible to everyone have been central to the development of, and abundantly illustrate, important concepts in science and mathematics. The phenomena considered include rainbows, sparkling reflections on water, mirages, green flashes, earthlight on the moon, glories, daylight, crystals, and the squint moon. The concepts include refraction, caustics (focal singularities of ray optics), wave interference, numerical experiments, mathematical asymptotics, dispersion, complex angular momentum (Regge poles), polarization singularities, Hamilton’s conical intersections of eigenvalues (‘Dirac points’), geometric phases, and visual illusions.

RSVP (preferred for catering purposes, but not essential) by Monday 25 April, 2016 to: Christine Hale, Phone: (02) 9850 8947, Email: 

If you have any questions, please contact
A/Prof. Gabriel Molina-Terriza ( or
A/Prof. Michael Steel (
You can also contact us on (02) 9850 4244

smb - event

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