SMS scnews item created by Zhou Zhang at Tue 24 Jan 2012 1326
Type: Seminar
Distribution: World
Expiry: 21 Feb 2012
Calendar1: 6 Feb 2012 1300-1400
CalLoc1: Macquarie University E7B T2

Macquarie Mathematics Colloquium Lecture: Baez -- Probabilities versus Amplitudes

Department of Mathematics, Macquarie University 

Mathematics Colloquium Lecture 

Monday 6 February 2012 

at 1pm 

in E7B T2 

Speaker: Professor John Baez, University of California, Riverside 

Title: Probabilities versus Amplitudes 

Abstract: Some ideas from quantum theory are just beginning to percolate back to
classical probability theory.  For example, there is a widely used and successful theory
of "chemical reaction networks", which describes the interactions of molecules in a
stochastic rather than quantum way.  If we look at it from the perspective of quantum
theory, this turns out to involve creation and annihilation operators, coherent states
and other well-known ideas - but with a few big differences.  The stochastic analogue of
quantum field theory is also used in population biology, and here the connection is
well-known.  But what does it mean to treat wolves as identical bosons? 


About the speaker: 


Amongst other things, Professor John Baez is famous for his ability to explain in an
understandable way the latest developments in mathematics and physics.  The following
background is adapted from the Wikipedia page
< >.  

Born in 1961, John Baez is an American mathematical physicist and a professor of
mathematics at the University of California, Riverside.  He is known for his work on
spin foams in loop quantum gravity.  More recently, his research has focused on
applications of higher categories to physics.  On 14 January 2010 Baez announced that he
was leaving categorical mathematical physics.  He said "I want to shift the focus of my
research away from fancy abstract n-categorical math to slightly more practical things.
My job at the Centre for Quantum Technologies (National University of Singapore) will
give me a chance to explore computer science, microtraps, and quantum optics.  What I
really want to do is help save our beleaguered planet." 

Baez is also known to science fans as the author of This Week’s Finds in Mathematical
Physics, an irregular column on the internet featuring mathematical exposition and
criticism.  He started This Week’s Finds in 1993 for the Usenet community, and it now
has a worldwide following in its new form, the blog "Azimuth".  This Week’s Finds
anticipated the concept of a personal weblog.  Additionally, Baez is known on the World
Wide Web as the author of the crackpot index.  

Yes, and before you ask, the famous singer and progressive activist Joan Baez is his
cousin (her father, physicist Albert Baez, was his uncle).  


In February, Professor Baez will be visiting the Centre for Australian Category Theory
(CoACT) at Macquarie University for research purposes and to treat us to three lectures: 

1.  Mathematics Colloquium entitled "Probabilities versus Amplitudes", of interest to
many people in the Faculty of Science, 1pm Monday 6 February 2012, in E7B T2; 

2.  Lecture: "Energy, the Environment and What We Can Do", of general interest, 1pm
Tuesday 7 February 2012, in E7A T2; 

3.  Australian Category Seminar: "Symmetric Monoidal Categories in Chemistry and
Biology", of more specialized interest, 2pm Wednesday 8 February 2012, in E7A 333.

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