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The Geometry of Chaos: From Climate Change to Foundations of Quantum Physics


Wednesday, February 7, 2024, 18:00 - 19:30


Royal Irish Academy, 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2


Fully booked

SOLD OUT Discourse Series: Tim Palmer, Hon MRIA, Royal Society Research Professor at the University of Oxford. His respondent will be Luke Drury MRIA.

This Discourse is now fully booked.

In his Discourse, Professor Palmer will argue that the three great theories of 20th Century physics are relativity theory, quantum theory and chaos theory. In making the case for the latter, he will focus on the fractal geometry of chaos and argue that its properties provide a geometric realisation of the great incompleteness/undecidability theorems of Kurt Gödel and Alan Turing. He will then focus on two applications of the geometry of chaos.

The first is very applied and links to how humanitarian agencies are now able to be much more proactive in helping vulnerable societies at risk of extreme weather, which itself is becoming more commonplace due to climate change. The second is from fundamental physics and provides a novel way of understanding the conceptually difficult problem of entanglement in quantum physics, without violating the notion of realism or resorting to “spooky action at a distance”.

The Academy’s discourses are the oldest and most renowned series of talks in Ireland. The first discourses were presented in 1786. Historically, Academy discourses were the occasion reserved for the most distinguished academics to first reveal and discuss their work in public. The purpose of the Academy's Discourse Series is to bring thought leaders to the Academy to discuss important contemporary issues.

Our speakers:

Tim Palmer is a Royal Society Research Professor at the University of Oxford. His PhD was in general relativity theory, but he has spend much of his career researching the nonlinear dynamics of our climate system. Amongst other things he discovered the world’s largest breaking waves (in the stratosphere) and pioneered the development of probabilistic ensemble prediction techniques for weather and climate forecasting. In the last few years he has become active in the field of quantum foundations.

As well as a fellow of the Royal Society and Honorary Member of the Royal Irish Academy, Tim is an International Member of the US National Academy of Sciences. Amongst other awards he has won the Dirac Gold Medal of the Institute of Physics, and a Gold Medal from the Royal Astronomical Society. As Lead Author, he was officially recognised as having contributed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s award of Nobel Peace Prize.

Luke Drury MRIA is the Chair of the ALLEA Open Science Taskforce. The ALLEA Open Science Task Force draws on the expertise of ALLEA's academy members in promoting science across all disciplines as a global public good that is as open as possible and as closed as necessary. He was President of the RIA from 2011 to 2014.

Please note:

We ask that you arrive to 19 Dawson Street no later than 5.50pm so that we can ensure everyone is seated before the Discourse begins at 6pm. Late-comers will not be admitted.

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