Condensed concepts

Ruminations on emergent phenomena in condensed phases of matter

Latest articles

Emergent quasi-particles and gauge fields in quantum matter

Unfortunately, there is a paucity of good review articles that give gentle introductions to current research in condensed matter, both for beginning graduate students and for curious non-experts. Too many reviews are exhaustive, in both senses of the word! Contemporary Physics is a journal that aims to address this problem. I should look at it more...

Kondo effect in the New York Times!

The Kondo effect is a paradigm for quantum many-body physics. It has so much: non-perturbative effects, scaling, emergent energy scales, Bethe ansatz solution, asymptotic freedom, Fermi liquid, ...The Kondo model is a benchmark for testing many approximations and numerical methods.Furthermore, it connects to so many other things: Anderson single impurity...

Emergence, surprises, and the future of condensed matter physics

 Where is condensed matter physics heading? Does it have a bright future? What are the big questions the field aims to (and might actually) address? What might we predict?I need to address these kinds of questions in the last chapter of Condensed Matter Physics: A Very Short Introduction.Here are three different perspectives.1. Incremental advances.We...

What's the big deal about twisted bilayer graphene?

 Twisted bilayer graphene seems to be the hottest topic in condensed matter physics right now. I tend to not follow fashion, both in clothing and science, for a multitude of reasons. However, I recently tried to catch up and read several of the nice perspectives on the topic at the Journal Club for Condensed Matter Physics.Electronic bands of twisted...

The intellectual legacy of Phil Anderson

I am looking forward to reading Andrew Zangwill's book, A Mind Over Matter: Philip Anderson and the Physics of the Very Many, that should be available in January 2021.Andy recently gave a beautiful talk at an ICAM meeting on the life and science of Phil Anderson. I highly recommend it. Yesterday, at the UQ condensed matter theory group meeting we watched...

Condensed matter physics is not axiomatic

 When I was an undergraduate I loved taking courses in pure mathematics and physics. I never took the "Solid State Physics" course because the person who taught it was a hopeless teacher. In my honours year (final year) I wrote a thesis on "Gravitational Lenses" that involved proving some theorems in General Relativity. I wanted to do a PhD in mathematical...

The science of humility

Research over the past few decades, particularly studies in business and management, has shown, that humility works. It is a powerful force for good and increases the chance of success in a range of human endeavors. Surprisingly to some, the meek do inherit the earth! John Dickson summarizes some of this social science research in his book, Humilitas:...

Minimal effective Hamiltonian for spin-crossover materials

My colleagues and I just put a preprint on the arXiv. I am particularly proud of it.  As always, comments would be appreciated.Equivalence of elastic and Ising models for spin-crossover materialsGian Ruzzi, Jace Cruddas, Ross H. McKenzie, Ben J. Powell Spin crossover (SCO) materials are reversible molecular switches; and occur in a wide range of near...

Quantum matters for the public

I have now finished my first draft of  Chapter 7 of Condensed Matter Physics: A Very Short Introduction. The main purpose of the chapter is to introduce quantum states of matter. It is arguably the most challenging of the chapters to write and to understand. But, it is potentially the most fascinating.I welcome comments and suggestions. However, bear...

Iconic images of science

Over history, a number of images have become iconic representations of science in the public mind. Here are some that I am particularly aware of.1. solar systemThis represents the predictability of Newtonian mechanics and the fact that we don't live in a geocentric universe.2. microscopeThis represents the whole new world that opened up. It is interesting...

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