Artificial atoms: quasiparticle designer matter
May 1, 2021 8:26 AM   Subscribe

The Joy of Condensed Matter - "Hard times in fundamental physics got you down? Let's talk excitons."[1]
We are living in the golden age of condensed matter physics. But first, what is “fundamental” physics? It’s a tricky term. You might think any truly revolutionary development in physics counts as fundamental. But in fact physicists use this term in a more precise, narrowly delimited way. One of the goals of physics is to figure out some laws that, at least in principle, we could use to predict everything that can be predicted about the physical universe. The search for these laws is fundamental physics...

Unfortunately, progress on these questions has been very slow since the 1990s. Luckily fundamental physics is not all of physics, and today it is no longer the most exciting part of physics. There is still plenty of mind-blowing new physics being done. And a lot of it—though by no means all—is condensed matter physics.
also btw...
  • See World's First Video of a Space-Time Crystal - "In 2012, the Nobel Prize winner in physics Frank Wilczek discovered the symmetry of matter in time. He is considered the discoverer of these so-called time crystals, although as a theorist he predicted them only hypothetically. Since then, several scientists have searched for materials in which the phenomenon is observed."
  • What is Reality? - "Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek investigates the ideas that form our understanding of the universe: time, space, matter, energy, complexity, and complementarity."
  • Physicists Just Found 4 New Subatomic Particles That May Test The Laws of Nature - "The LHC has now discovered 59 new hadrons. These include the tetraquarks most recently discovered, but also new mesons and baryons. All these new particles contain heavy quarks such as 'charm' and 'bottom'. These hadrons are interesting to study. They tell us what nature considers acceptable as a bound combination of quarks, even if only for very short times."[2]
  • How to Rewrite the Laws of Physics in the Language of Impossibility - "Chiara Marletto is trying to build a master theory — a set of ideas so fundamental that all other theories would spring from it. Her first step: Invoke the impossible."
posted by kliuless (5 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
A delightful discussion of two-way connections between condensed-matter physics and fundamental physics is the subject of Robert Laughlin’s A Different Universe.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 9:13 AM on May 1 [1 favorite]

They can even create materials in which light moves as if there were two space dimensions and two time dimensions, instead of the usual three dimensions of space and one of time! Normally we think that time can go forward in just one direction, but in these substances light has a choice between many different directions it can go “forward in time.”

This sounds interesting. I wish they had done a bit more work on describing this material. My limited understanding of time is that it relates to an increase in entropy, or disorder. What does it mean for time to operate in a second dimension? Is causality broken or the material disordered in some interesting way that isn't possible with "normal" material?
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 11:06 AM on May 1

Is this like the thing where they can study analogues of black holes using water tanks?
posted by ver at 11:08 AM on May 1

As we get into frontiers of energy in particle physics that makes larger colliders harder to get political support for, I have a strong suspicion that the 21st Century will be the condensed matter physics century.

Folks like Sabine Hossenfelder (and Robert Laughlin, referenced above) have been making an interesting case that condensed matter physics may have a lot of bearing on major active problems in the theoretical physics realm (like the Particle Dark Matter/Modified Gravity issue; such as both may be true, with some sort of phase transition between them).
posted by tclark at 12:46 PM on May 1

Good article!
posted by JHarris at 3:26 PM on May 1

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