2019 Winter Conferences

  *Denotes physicist in charge of diversity

January 6-11, 2019

Single Molecule Biophysics

*Steven Block, Stanford University
Thomas Perkins, JILA

This will be the 10th biennial workshop on Single Molecule Biophysics (SMB) held at the Aspen Center for Physics (ACP), building on a successful series begun in 2001. The SMB meeting highlights recent progress in the field of single molecule biophysics, on both its experimental and theoretical frontiers. Topics vary somewhat from year to year. Biological systems covered in past meetings have included nucleic acid-based enzymes (polymerases, topoisomerases, helicases, etc.), nucleic acids (DNA, RNA), mechanoenzymes (myosin, kinesin, dynein, ATP synthase, flagellar motors), and aspects of molecular physiology (folding/unfolding, binding, signaling, and other biostructural changes). Featured experimental techniques have included fluorescence, optical trapping, magnetic tweezers, scanned- probe microscopy, and super-resolution techniques. This workshop traditionally attracts a mixture of experimentalists and theorists.

Biologists and physicists with either newfound or longstanding interests in biophysics are encouraged to apply: all levels of accomplishment are welcome. The meeting features a lively mix of students and professors. The SMB workshop has been oversubscribed in the past, so a higher priority will be assigned to those applicants presenting important new findings and who commit to remain for the duration of the meeting.

In the event of over-subscription, a limit of two representatives from each participating scientific group or collaboration will be adopted. We will attempt to award each group or collaboration one short talk based on the applications accepted. All attendees are also invited to present posters. Prospective participants should submit the following:

  • A short abstract (<200 words) of the proposed contribution, including a title plus the names and institutional affiliations of all co-authors. Abstracts will be ranked and used as a basis for admission.
  • Indicate if you wish the abstract to be considered for a talk: otherwise, a poster presentation will be assumed.
  • Indicate that you intend to attend the full meeting, if accepted. If a partial attendance is necessary, please be sure to indicate the reason in your application.

  • For more information, please click here.

    January 13-18, 2019

    Theoretical Physics for
    Machine Learning

    *Adam Brown, Stanford University
    Ethan Dyer, Stanford University & Johns Hopkins
    Paul Ginsparg, Cornell University
    Guy Gur-Ari, Institute for Advanced Study
    Jaehoon Lee, Google Brain

    The AI revolution is here! Dramatic progress in machine learning, largely spurred by deep neural networks, has blown away benchmarks and solved problems decades earlier than expected. Despite this success, there remains much to learn about the principles governing these models. This Aspen Winter Conference will bring together researchers from the theoretical physics and artificial intelligence communities to discuss the physics of machine learning, with an eye towards both improved performance and progress on new challenges. The conference will investigate whether the tools and methodology of theoretical physics, formulated to describe the physical world, can be applied to understand the models and learning algorithms used in artificial intelligence. We hope that the conference will catalyze increased interaction between the theoretical physics and artificial intelligence communities.

    For more information, please click here.

    Condensed Matter Physics
    February 3-9, 2019

    New Approaches to Strongly
    Correlated Quantum Systems

    Immanuel Bloch, Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics
    Xie Chen, Caltech
    *Frank Pollmann, Technical University Munich
    Michael Zaletel, UC Berkeley

    Recent years have seen the development of new non-perturbative approaches to the quantum many-body problem arising from surprising interdisciplinary sources. On the numerical side, insights from quantum information theory have led to the discovery of efficient tensor network methods, while machine learning techniques have been adapted to the study of quantum many-body states and the optimization of Monte Carlo sampling. Theoretically, new dualities and the bootstrap program are yielding surprising constraints on quantum critical phases, while quantum information theory has been used to derive bounds on even more general many-body systems. At the same time engineered quantum systems, both in cold atomic systems and the solid state, are providing an unprecedented level of control which is allowing these approaches to be tested in the laboratory. Our winter meeting will attempt to bring together leading practitioners to discuss the further development of these new approaches and their application to outstanding problems in condensed matter physics.

    For more information, please click here.

    February 9-14, 2019

    Astrophysics with
    Gravitational-Wave Populations

    Jocelyn Read, California State University Fullerton
    *Samaya Nissanke, University of Amsterdam
    Maria Drout, University of Toronto
    Daniel Holz, University of Chicago
    Eleonora Troja, NASA Goddard
    Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz, University of California Santa Cruz
    Stephan Rosswog, Stockholm University
    Jessica McIver, California Institute of Technology

    LIGO and Virgo have revealed an active gravitational-wave sky. In early 2019 we will enter a new observing run, and estimates suggest up to order ten binary neutron-star mergers and order a hundred binary black-hole mergers might be found with a year of observation. Gravitational-wave astronomy will be faced with a new challenge: accommodating the oncoming deluge of transient detections. This workshop will focus on the analysis of populations of gravitational-wave sources, with implications across a diverse array of astrophysics including general relativity and fundamental physics, stellar populations and their history, cosmic nucleosynthesis, post-merger jets and kilonovae, and the neutron- star equation of state. We will discuss methods and opportunities associated with the future of gravitational-wave astronomy.

    For more information, please click here.

    March 3-8, 2019

    Into the Starlight:
    The End of the Cosmic Dark Ages

    Jean Brodie, University of California, Santa Cruz
    Anna Frebel, MIT
    Zoltan Haiman, Columbia University
    Alexander Heger, Monash University
    Matthias Steinmetz, Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics
    *Rosemary Wyse, Johns Hopkins University

    The first stars must have formed from gas consisting of only hydrogen and helium, produced in the Big Bang, with zero contribution from metals. We understand metals to play a critical role at later epochs, in cooling the gas sufficiently that it can collapse to form stars. The first stars must form differently from later generations, in as-yet poorly understood ways. During their lives and deaths, the first stars played a significant role in reionizing the cosmic baryonic material, in particular neutral hydrogen, and creating and then dispersing metals far from the sites of early star formation. Stars less massive than around 80% of the mass of the Sun live for essentially the age of the Universe and their surface chemical abundances reflect conditions in the gas from which they form. Old, low-mass stars in nearby galaxies thus probe early star formation. The first stars are also expected to form 10-100 solar mass black holes, some of which can seed the growth of the supermassive black holes observed in the local Universe, and some of which may remain as stellar-mass black holes in present-day galaxies, powering ultra-luminous X-ray sources, and produce gravitational waves as binaries.

    The impact of the first stars on subsequent star formation and galaxy evolution depends on many unknown quantities, including the relative distribution by number of their individual masses (the Initial Mass Function, IMF), the properties of the dark matter halos within which they are predicted to form, their environment - both the immediate surroundings and on larger scales - and how they cluster. These issues form the basis of the proposed meeting, with presentations of new results from observations relevant to the most metal- poor and oldest stars, as well as nearby stellar systems and the chemical enrichment of the intergalactic medium. These observational discoveries will be discussed in the context of the results from theoretical calculations of, for example, star formation in metal-free mostly atomic gas, the IMF of the first stars, stellar evolution of the first stars, the properties of the first collapsed dark-matter halos, along with simulations of their evolution in a cosmological context. The formation of seed black holes from the first stars and possible growth and evolutionary paths to supermassive black holes and active galactic nuclei will also be discussed in one of the sessions.

    For more information, please click here.

    Condensed Matter Physics
    March 10-15, 2019

    Many-Body Quantum Chaos

    Victor Galitski, University of Maryland
    *Monika Schleier-Smith, Stanford University
    Brian Swingle, University of Maryland
    Douglas Stanford, IAS

    The problem of quantum chaotic dynamics of interacting many-body systems has recently experienced a significant renaissance. Deep relations have been uncovered between seemingly disconnected models and new insights have come from condensed matter and AMO physics, from string theory and general relativity, and from quantum information science.

    This Aspen Winter Conference aims to synthesize these recent developments with particular emphasis on connections with the older quantum chaos literature and on recent and forthcoming experiments on many-body quantum chaotic systems such as strongly interacting solid state materials and engineered atomic and optical systems.

    The key questions to be addressed include the following. How do the recent developments in many-body quantum chaos (MBQC) connect to established ideas in the quantum chaos literature? How does MBQC manifest in quantum dynamics, for example, in the transport properties of strongly interacting electrons? How do we engineer sufficiently complex many-body systems and directly probe the quantum butterfly effect? What new theoretical methods are required to calculate the properties of MBQC systems? Is there an effective theory of quantum chaos that generalizes gravity or the simple Schwarzian theory?

    For more information, please click here.

    Mathematical Physics
    March 17-22, 2019

    Higher Symmetries
    Theory and Applications

    Daniel Freed, University of Texas
    Anton Kapustin, California Institute of Technology
    *Zohar Komargodski, Simons Center for Geometry and Physics
    Mithat Unsal, North Carolina State University

    Groups of symmetries have long played a central role in physics. For example, groups of symmetries act on local observables, which are then organized according to their transformation laws. Nonlocal observables and operators are present in many theories. They often transform under more general mathematical objects: higher groups of higher form symmetries. These generalized symmetries are playing an important role in theoretical studies in both high energy and condensed matter physics.

    Higher symmetries have many applications. They are an effective tool for the classification of phases, they provide guidance for investigating dualities, they can be used to study bosonization in higher dimensions, and they have been used to formulate the hydrodynamic theory of strongly interacting plasmas.

    The workshop will bring together high energy theorists, condensed matter theorists, and mathematicians who may already be actively applying higher symmetries in their work or may be interested in learning about them.

    For more information, please click here.

    Particle Physics
    March 24-30, 2019

    In Pursuit of New
    Particles and Paradigms

    Brian Batell, University of Pittsburgh
    Laura Baudis, University of Zurich
    Tao Han, University of Pittsburgh
    James Hirschauer, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
    *Tongyan Lin, University of California San Diego

    Several basic mysteries, including the nature of dark matter, the origin of the matter- antimatter asymmetry, the dynamics underlying neutrino masses, the structure of fermion masses and mixings, and the naturalness problems compel the search for a new paradigm in our description of matter and forces going beyond the Standard Model. With the expected completion of LHC Run II in late 2018, this conference will provide a timely opportunity to take stock of this effort with a broad overview of the latest experimental results and theoretical advances in the field. Special priority will be given to innovative experimental approaches and imaginative theoretical ideas likely to shape research directions in the near future. Through intense interaction and cooperation, physicists with diverse expertise across theory and experiment will strive to make progress on the fundamental questions at the frontiers of particle physics.

    For more information, please click here.