Location: ABB 102
Time: 2:30 PM
Guest: Dr. Duncan O'Dell - McMaster University
Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy
Title: Caustics and Catastrophes
Caustics are singularities arising from the natural focusing of waves. Examples include rainbows, the bright lines on the bottom of swimming pools, gravitational lensing, freak waves at sea, tidal bores, and event horizons. At large scales all these phenomena lead to characteristic singular shapes along which the amplitude diverges and that are described by catastrophe theory. However, zooming down to short scales one finds that the singularities are smoothed by universal interference patterns that obey a remarkable set of scaling relations.
My group has been extending these ideas to quantum fields. The big question we are trying to answer is whether there are classical wave singularities that are not resolved by ordinary wave interference but that are instead regulated by second quantization? I will take you through some simple examples we have studied in the dynamics of the Bose-Hubbard and transverse field Ising models following a sudden quench, as well as in analogue black holes.