Sunday, February 12, 2012

A sampling of everything that is possible

It is spine tingling to view a two-dimensional representation of everything that is possible given the laws of physics. I had previously written about our work, where Shoresh used Monte Carlo simulations to let the computer randomly sample all possible quantum systems that are compatible with the Schrodinger equation. In my recent report to the National Science Foundation, my awe in Physics and its ability to make such grand and sweeping statements was rekindled. Above is a summary of our work in graphical form. It is aesthetically pleasing in its visual appeal, but more so in its intellectual content.

I cannot explain in the small amount of space here the beauty of these results, nor what they mean in terms of the basic science. Nature is clearly hinting at some deep structure of the quantum world when we probe molecules with light. My summary to NSF states it best:

"The uniqueness of our work is that it provides a new way of thinking, which in the words of a Spotlight on Optics article describes our approach as "reminiscent of the cutting of the Gordian knot by Alexander the Great. (see article)" Rather than focusing on one application, our work provides a new paradigm for understanding the critical material properties that need to be controlled for making better materials for any application that is based upon the interaction of light with matter.

"Technologies that may benefit from this work include high-contrast medical imaging, laser-based cancer therapies that target malignant cells without damaging surrounding cells, all-optical computers that are ultrafast by virtue of new architectures enabled by light, high-speed telecommunications through technologies that eliminate the electronics bottleneck, and high-density reconfigurable optical information storage."

Now I need to get back to the painfully boring task of updating my CV and preparing my annual review materials. I can't wait to finish these inane tasks so that I can get back to thinking about the things that I find most meaningful in life.

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