Monday, March 04, 2019

APS March Meeting, Day 1

A few things I saw at the APS Meeting today, besides 10 inches of fresh, wet snow on the ground this morning (disclaimer:  for various reasons I was session-hopping quite a bit, so this is rather disjointed):
  • Ignacio Franco at Rochester spoke about some experiments (here) that I'd not remembered, where carefully controlled, intense femtosecond light pulses were used to turn on a transient current in SiO2, normally one of the best insulators out there.  The theory is interesting, and made me start thinking about possible opportunities in this area.
  • A focus topic session on 2D magnetic materials was extremely crowded - so much so that I literally couldn't get in the room for the first talk.  Interesting talks, including Yujun Deng from Fudan presenting this workMasaki Nakano from the University of Tokyo spoke about growing epitaxial films of V5Se8, a cousin of a material with which we've worked; and Boyi Zhou at Washington University in St. Louis presented this work, which seems to show nontrivial electronic conduction in (ordinarily Mott insulating) monolayer RuCl3 layered on graphene.  Lots of interesting activity going on here, many fun ideas.
  • Naomi Ginsberg at Berkeley talked about some impressive imaging techniques used to follow energy flow in complex materials.  Combining super-resolution methods, interferometry, and time-resolved techniques is a heck of an enabling technique!
  • Peter Abbamonte at Illinois presented some remarkable measurements using an angle-resolved electron energy loss technique (M-EELS) to look at the strange metal state of a cuprate superconductor.  The main result is that this material seems to support a very broad plasmon mode with a lot of properties that are inconsistent with what you'd expect in a Fermi liquid, and may make connection with more exotic pictures of strange metals.  
  • Wojciech Zurek's talk about the foundations of quantum mechanics (based on this article) was very engaging (and apparently in a superposition of all possible fonts), though again the room was so full that people were sitting on the floor in the aisles and lining three walls.  The session also was running about 10 minutes ahead of schedule, which definitely was not great for people who ended up missing the beginning of Zurek's talk or Rovelli's before it.
The unwieldy size of the meeting is increasingly clear, with lines in the restrooms, and local fastfood places unable to handle the lunch crowd.  


Tahir said...

What did you think of Zurek's talk? Do you think the ideas and insights he discussed are refined and mature enough that we can think about incorporating them into the undergraduate physics curriculum in a substantive way?

Douglas Natelson said...

Tahir, I liked the talk (though I admit I got distracted and lost the thread late in the talk). I need to think about it more, but I think this isn't necessarily the best content for a first course on quantum. Perhaps a senior year course, after people have already had a chance to get familiar with how to actually calculate quantities. Seems like it's hard to appreciate his point without first having a sense of why people have been worrying about interpretation for 90 years.