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David Olive Distinguished Lectures

Professor DAVID OLIVE, CBE, FRS , FLSW (1937 - 2012) was one of the founding members of the Swansea Particle Physics Theory group in 1992, prior to which he held academic positions at Imperial College, CERN and Cambridge. His seminal contributions shaped the development of quantum field theory and string theory. His scientific career began with important work in S-matrix theory culminating with him co-authoring the definitive text on the subject titled "The Analytic S-matrix” together with Eden, Landshoff and Polkinghorne. His work on the spinning string leading to the GSO (Gliozzi-Scherk-Olive) projection played the central role in the realisation of spacetime supersymmetry in string theory.

Professor Olive, together with Peter Goddard and Adrian Kent pioneered the coset construction, one of the most important results in two dimensional conformal quantum field theories, which eventually led to ways of incorporating spacetime gauge symmetry in string theory. The deep insights on properties of monopoles due to Goddard, Nuyts and Olive, and the bold proposal of Olive and Montonen on electric-magnetic duality in non-abelian gauge theories had arguably the most far-reaching impact on the development of dualities in quantum field theories and propelled the duality revolution in string and M-theory.

For these pioneering and far-sighted contributions David was awarded the Dirac Medal of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in 1997.

An annual series of lectures in memory of David and his work was established in 2019 under the auspices of / in collaboration with the Learned Society of Wales. David was a Founding Fellow of the Society, having been elected in 2010.

The inaugural David Olive Lecture was delivered by Prof Robbert Dijkgraaf, Director of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. 

Past Lectures

Professor Sir Michael Berry - 2022 Lecture

Professor Sir Michael Berry

Making Light of Mathematics

Professor Sir Michael Berry, FRS, FRSE, FRSA, HonFInstP, HonFLSW is Melville Wills Professor of Physics at Bristol University.

About the speaker: A mathematical/theoretical physicist, he has made pioneering contributions in several fields of physics, and in the process generated entirely new scientific areas: the study of geometric phases commonly known as the Berry phase, and associated Berry curvature and Berry connection in quantum mechanics, singular optics and quantum chaos.

A physicist who relis​hes puzzles in optics, quantum & classical mechanics, his research straddles the borderlands of classical and quantum physics, where fascinating physical phenomena (e.g. singularities in rainbows, optics with plastic sheets, levitating tops, magic mirrors, caustics) are explained using equally fascinating and powerful mathematics, such as asymptotic, hyper-asymptotic , super-asymptotic (!) and resurgent series. Prof. Berry has received numerous major awards in recognition of his discoveries, including the Dirac Prize (IoP, 1990), the Dirac Medal (ICTP, 1996), the Wolf Prize (1998), and the Polya prize in mathematics (2005).  He was knighted in 1992, is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society, elected member of the National Academy of Sciences of USA and three other national academies. Prof. Berry is widely known for his beautiful, captivating lectures that show the power of abstract mathematical ideas hidden in down-to-earth but fascinating physical systems:  in his own words: "the arcane in the mundane”.

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