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Atomism and quantization

Froehlich, J (ETH Zurich)
Monday 27 October 2008, 17:00-18:00

Seminar Room 1, Newton Institute


In this lecture, I will show how the atomistic structure of matter emerges from theories that treat matter as a continuous medium by a process of quantization. The parameter that occupies the role of Planck's constant in the usual quantization of hamiltonian mechanics is a measure of the strength of interactions between "atoms of matter".

I will discuss the examples of Newtonian mechanics of point particles, which can be understood as a quantization of the continuum mechanics described by the Vlasov Equation, and of interacting Bose gases, understood as the quantization of Hartree theory. I will then show how continuum theories of matter emerge from atomistic theories in the mean-field limit where the strength of interactions between "atoms of matter" tends to zero, but the number of such "atoms" tends to infinity.

I will conclude by outlining how the Newtonian mechanics of point particles can also emerge as a theory of solitary wave solutions of some non-linear hamiltonian evolution equations treating matter as a continuous medium.


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