Making Light of Mathematics
Many 'mathematical phenomena' find application and sometimes spectacular physical illustration in the physics of light. Concepts such as fractals, catastrophe theory, knots, infinity, zero, and even when 1+1 fails to equal 2, are needed to understand rainbows, twinkling starlight, sparkling seas, and simple experiments on interference, polarization and focusing. The lecture will be based on pictures.
Professor Sir Michael Berry was born in 1941 in Surrey. After studying in Exeter and St Andrews, he joined the physics department at Bristol University in 1965, and stayed. Now he is a Royal Society Research Professor.
Professor Berry is a Professor-at-Large at Cornell University, New York, and a visiting professor at the Technion in Israel. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of London, the US National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Uppsala Scientific Society, the Indian National Science Academy and an honorary Fellow of the Institute of Physics.
He was awarded the Maxwell medal (1978), the Royal Medal (1990), the Lilienfeld prize (1990), the Dirac medal (Institute of Physics) (1990), the Naylor Prize (1992), the Science for Art prize (1994), the Hewlett-Packard Europhysics prize (1995), the Dirac prize (International Centre for Theoretical Physics) (1996), the Kapitsa medal (1997), and the Wolf prize (1998). He was knighted in 1996.
His research is about connections between areas of physics (e.g. ray optics and wave optics), quantum geometry, quantum chaology (and connections with prime numbers), fractals in optics, and nature's light patterns.