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Laufer Lecture 2011, "Hydrodynamic Quantum Analogues: Droplets Walking on the Impossible Pilot Wave"

October 19, 2011 —

Bush lectures to a full house.
On Friday, Oct. 7, USC Viterbi School of Engineering’s Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Department presented its 2011 Laufer Lecture, hosting John Bush, Professor of Applied Mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Before a considerable gathering of students, many of them PhD candidates, in the Davidson Conference Center, Bush presented “Hydrodynamic Quantum Analogues: Droplets Walking on the Impossible Pilot Wave.”

An excerpt:
“Yves Couder and coworkers have recently reported the results of a startling series of experiments in which droplets walking on a vibrating fluid surface exhibit several dynamical features previously thought to be peculiar to the microscopic realm, including single-particle diffraction and interference, tunneling and quantized orbits. In an attempt to develop a connection between the fluid and quantum systems, we explore the Madelung transformation, whereby Schrödinger’s equation is recast in hydrodynamic form. Doing so allows us to demonstrate that the capillary pressure associated with the fluid’s interfacial tension plays the role of the quantum pressure, and that the capillary Faraday waves play the role if de Broglie’s matter waves. A surprising correspondence between the walking droplets and de Broglie’s pilot wave theory of quantum mechanics is developed. New experiments are presented, and indicate the potential value of this hydrodynamic approach to both visualizing and understanding quantum mechanics.”

The Viterbi School marked the opening of its second century by establishing endowed annual keynote lectures in all its academic departments. Named after individuals who significantly influenced their respective departments at USC, the lectures cover a broad range of engineering topics and draw eminent scholars to the USC Viterbi community.

Lecture namesake John Laufer was an internationally renowned experimentalist in Fluid Mechanics. He founded the Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering Department at USC in 1964 and, as its chairman over the next 19 years, built it into one of the most respected Fluid Mechanics research groups in the country.