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Workshop at ICTP

Posted by Arjendu on September 21, 2009

Despite claiming I am going to be being a humanist all term, I am actually spending the week at a workshop at ICTP in Trieste, Italy at the moment, on “Pseudo-chaos and stable chaos in statistical mechanics and quantum mechanics”.

The ICTP is an interesting place, somewhat reminiscent of the KITP in Santa Barbara in that it has a small permanent faculty and staff, but mostly hosts many postdocs and visitors on short programs like the one I’m attending. Like KITP, it’s pretty much right on the water (though in this case it’s the Adriatic) and likewise its possible to spend plenty of time here sampling nature but without interacting much with the local environs since it is many kilometers from Trieste. At least at KITP there’s the University itself, and the small but interesting strip in Isla Vista — doesn’t look like we’ve even got that much here.

I am eager to get out there and sample some more of the place, though, rather than just airports and cafeterias … I’ve been for a walk on the waterfront by myself a few hours after I got here and there’s an interesting looking castle right next door (the Duino castle, which inspired Rilke’s Elegies, as well as where Boltzmann died, is a few kilometers away).

The workshop has been the usual, professionally — learned a bit during most of most of the talks, got lost and very sleepy during some of some of them (being badly jet-lagged doesn’t help), put some faces to names, including one (Angelo Vulpiani) with whom I’ve been emailing briefly on and off for about 15 years, re-met some others. The casual interactions are always interesting: I happened to sit at dinner with, and then joined for an espresso after, some of the senior lions of my field who are here — Shmuel Fishman, Uzy Smilansky, Peter Grassberger, and also Tomaz Prosen (who’s about my age, is one of the organizers, and who I know a bit from a previous workshop in Cuernavaca) and listened to the gossip, the stories, and the general chatter.

I’ve scheduled some personal discussion time with a couple of people and that face-to-face feedback on my ideas is really why I am here, or why I like going to workshops in general — it’s going to be invaluable, particularly for a small college theorist like me, who sees so few people in his field on a regular basis. Plus, this pseudo-chaos stuff, as I understand it so far, is trememendously relevant to my paper with Arik, and the resulting argument about what exactly is going on in that system, which was ultimately the reason I came — the quickest way I know to learn something is to go to a workshop on it.


4 Responses to “Workshop at ICTP”

  1. quantummoxie said


    Two things:

    1. I need to get back to you on that Anacapa Society thing. Being department chair has it’s drawbacks, one of which is an increase in meetings and paperwork, so this has fallen to the backburner. But I plan to put it on the front burner ASAP.

    2. Since you’re a stat. mech. guy and a quantum guy, I’m looking for help with something. I’ve been working on a now infamous paper for years and it is still not getting anywhere. Click here for the latest version. There are two related older papers on the arXiv as well that gives you some sense for my line of thinking. I’ve had no luck getting this published as it stands and am now seeking a co-author who can add their own twist to it to hopefully get it over the hump.

  2. arjendu said

    Hello Ian, about (1) I’m not holding my breath and never was :-).

    About (2), I took a quick look at it and it’s definitely near what I do, but yet far enough that most of what you are saying is alien language. I’ll take a longer look at some point and get back to you if I understand enough to ask questions. What about talking with Hussein Partovi, though, a fellow Anacapite?

  3. quantummoxie said

    Cool! Thanks! Honestly, the Cerf-Adami stuff is pretty simple – entropic Bell inequalities. The original paper by those guys is fairly easy to understand.

    I should definitely talk to Partovi. I had been hoping to meet him at the APS March Meeting last year (I was chair of the quantum foundations session and he was supposed to present but withdrew). His results suggesting the existence of macroscopic entangled states in thermal systems were really interesting. It throws a wrench into the whole quantum-classical/macro-micro debate (what *is* a quantum state?).

  4. […] one of the legends of chaos/quantum chaos, but I hadn’t actually ever met Giorgio until my trip to Trieste last Fall. Giorgio’s work and mine have continued to parallel each other over the years, but when I […]

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