Research Fellows Directory
Dr Anthony Short
University of Bristol
Recent research in quantum information theory has given us a much deeper understanding of quantum theory, and has led to powerful new techniques and concepts that can be applied to other areas of physics. My research focuses on the foundational insights that can be gained from this approach. Three areas I am currently interested in are:
1) Understanding why the world is quantum – Quantum theory has been amazingly successful. However, its mathematical structure is quite un-intuitive and specific. Can it be given a more natural justification? Recently, significant progress has been made in deriving quantum theory from physical statements, such as the reversibility of the fundamental laws, rather than mathematical ones. Such approaches may help us better understand quantum theory, and even to go beyond it to a deeper theory.
2) Explaining thermal equilibrium - Surprisingly, we still do not have a complete understanding of thermalisation, such as why your cup of coffee cools down, from first principles. However, we have recently proven that quantum systems behave like this under very general conditions. Even at the microscopic level, where we normally imagine tiny molecules flying around bouncing into each other, quantum systems will evolve into an essentially static equilibrium state. Such advances provide a much firmer foundation for thermal physics, and for understanding equilibration more generally.
3) Particle physics in discrete space and time – How would fundamental particles behave if space and time were really discrete (like a giant chess board and a digital clock), rather than being smooth and continuous? One can use ideas from quantum computation to address these questions, and give a natural interpretation of the bounded speed of light, as moving one square in one tick of the clock. Can this give us a new understanding of particle physics, and the fundamental nature of reality?
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)