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Physics and Astronomy

Physics & Astronomy Colloquium

3:30 PM, Friday, October 24, 2008
Room 155, Chem-Phys Building

Prof. Percy Deift
Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences
New York

Universality for Mathematical and Physical Systems
All physical systems in equilibrium obey the laws of thermodynamics. In other words, whatever the precise nature of the interaction between the atoms and molecules at the microscopic level, at the macroscopic level, physical systems exhibit universal behavior in the sense that they are all governed by the same laws and formulae of thermodynamics. The speaker will recount some recent history of universality ideas in Physics starting with Wigner's model for th scattering of neutrons off large nuclei and show how these ideas have led mathematicians to investigate universal behavior for a variety of mathematical systems. This is true not only for systems which have a physical origin, but also for sstmes which arise in a purely mathematical context such as the Riemann hypothesis and, and a version of the card game solitaire called patience sorting.

Refreshments will be served in CP 155 at 3:15 PM