Professor Sir Michael Berry
Ph.D.(St.And.), B.Sc.(Exon.), Sc.D.(Dub.), F.R.S.
Emeritus Professor of PhysicsSchool of Physics
Many incompletely understood phenomena lurk in the borderlands between physical theories - between classical and quantum, between rays and waves... These borderlands - the domain of physical asymptotics - are my intellectual habitat, with an emphasis on geometrical aspects of waves (especially phase) and chaos.
A source of delight is uncovering down-to-earth or dramatic and sometimes beautiful examples of abstract mathematical ideas: the arcane in the mundane. Examples are:
- mathematical singularities in rainbows and the patterns on the bottom of swimming-pools;
- a laser pointer shone through irregular bathroom-window glass, illustrating abstract aspects of wave interference;
- optics with transparent overhead-projector plastic sheets, illustrating polarization singularities, matrix degeneracies, and quantum measurement, and Anderson localization;
- a levitating spinning-top, illustrating adiabatic stability and geometric phases;
- twists and turns with a belt, illustrating the behaviour of identical particles in quantum mechanics, responsible for the impenetrability of matter, lasers, superconductivity...
- Oriental magic mirrors, directly displaying the Laplacian.
- Tsunamis, which are caustics in spacetime, and, when focused, spacetime caustics on a cusped caustic
Progress in Optics
- Chapter in a book
- Accepted/In press
New Journal of Physics
European Journal of Physics
Journal of Physics A: Mathematical and Theoretical
Journal of Optics