Renowned physicist espouses nature's wonders
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Abstract concepts of physics and mathematics are hardly the kind of topics that fill a room and thrill an audience. Professor Sir Michael Berry's lecture on the "seven wonders of physics" at
In explaining about light difference magnified in rainbows, he illustrated how one physical theory, ray optics, is superseded by another, wave optics. He then went on to demystify the optical principle behind the 10-second "green flash" moments before the sun sets in a clear sky. "Familiar physics in the refraction of light can operate on an unfamiliar scale," he said. In another example, he demonstrated how prime numbers are distributed exactly like energy levels in quantum chaos, illustrating "an unexpected connection" between arithmetic and physics. Drawing on simple, easy-to-find natural phenomena, Sir Michael took the audience on a journey that traversed the vast expanse of classical and quantum physics, covering topics ranging from gravity, optics, symmetry breaking, quantum mechanics and the enigmatic Riemann's hypothesis.Sir Michael joined Bristol University in 1965, was appointed Royal Society Research Professor in 1988 and was knighted in 1996. A world-renowned physicist for his studies in the topological aspects of wave motion in classical and quantum scenarios, he is the author of over 300 journal articles and a highly-regarded speaker in the world-wide academic and research communities. He is a fellow/member of several academies: the European Academy, the Royal Society of London and the National Academy of Sciences (US), to name a few. Over his long illustrious career, Sir Michael has received many honours and prestigious awards, including the Royal Medal of the Royal Society, the Paul Dirac Medal of the Institute of Physics (UK) and the Wolf Prize in Physics.