Spinors, Strings and Superconductors: Challenges of a new era in Condensed Matter Physics

Dr. Piers Coleman Rutgers University Physics thrives on the strong convection of ideas between the lab and the cosmos, yet each new generation of physicist is surprised as it rediscovers the forgotten fact that discovery cuts across the boundaries of our specialities. Here, I shall argue that recent discoveries in particle, condensed matter and astronomy place us again at extraordinary juncture for a new convection of ideas. I shall try to sketch this pragmatic outlook from a condensed matter physics perspective, using examples drawn from my work and others. How some elegant equations from string theory and gravity led us to discover a novel phase transition in two dimensional Heisenberg magnets; how a discussion with a particle physicist suggested a new way of understanding heavy electron superconductors, and how the discovery of Ising electrons in the "hidden order" material, URu2Si2 suggests a form of order long thought to be forbidden - called "hastatic order".

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