Workshop on Non-Equilibrium Physics and Holography

"Non-Equilibrium Physics and Holography"

12 - 15 July 2016, St. John's College, Oxford University


This small-scale event brings together researchers from three different disciplines, united by their interest in the studies of physics beyond thermal equilibrium: quantum statistical mechanics, experimental condensed matter and cold atom physics, and string theory. Non-equilibrium physics is a subject of intense interest encompassing a wide spectrum of phenomena - from turbulence to the collective behaviour of quantum gases.


In contrast to equilibrium thermodynamics, whose foundations were laid more than a century ago, the fundamental laws governing the dynamics of non-equilibrium quantum systems are only beginning to be understood. Over the last decade, largely due to advances in experimental cold atom physics, it has become possible to study a variety of non-equilibrium quantum phenomena in controlled laboratory environments. Theoretical efforts to understand the observed behaviour, and make predictions for future experiments, have been partially successful. However, they frequently encounter serious difficulties associated with the fact that the physical systems in question are composed of particles that strongly interact with one another, which precludes the application of standard approaches. Fortunately, new developments in a seemingly totally unrelated field, string theory, have led to progress in understanding a class of strongly interacting quantum many-body systems. These advances have already been successfully used in explaining some features of a specific non-equilibrium process involving heavy ion collisions. This raises the possibility, that they may in fact hold the key for understanding the principles underlying the dynamics of non-equilibrium quantum systems in general. In order to investigate this issue, it is crucial to determine to what extent string theory methods can be applied to more general settings motivated by quantum statistical mechanics and cold atom experiments. This in turn requires interdisciplinary interactions between members of the aforementioned three fields. The difficulty is that although the three communities study, generally speaking, the same subject and acknowledge each other's existence, effectively they use different descriptive languages and interact only weakly.


The purpose of the workshop is to bring the three communities much closer together and stimulate lasting interactions and collaborations.

Organizing Committee:

Fabian Essler (Oxford University)

Andrew O'Bannon (University of Southampton)

Andrei Starinets (Oxford University)

Theoretical Physics Administration Officer:

Michelle Bosher

Web Design & Support:

Philipp Kleinert

Jonas Probst

Funding provided by:

St John's college Research Centre

The European HOLOGRAV Network

The Rudolph Peierls Centre for Theoretical Physics

European Research Council under the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (ERC Grant agreement 307955)