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Universal Themes of Bose-Einstein Condensation
Organizers: Keith Burnett (Sheffield, UK), Peter Littlewood (Chicago, US), Nick Proukakis (Newcastle, UK), David Snoke (Pittsburgh, US), Henk Stoof (Utrecht, Netherlands)
The aim of this meeting was to discuss, in a unified manner, the universal themes of Bose-Einstein condensation across all different fields of physics and scales, from the nuclear to the astrophysical scale. Bose-Einstein condensation is a phenomenon associated with the dominant preferential occupation of one energy level of a system, which results in all particles of that state behaving collectively and exhibiting 'super' properties, such as superfluidity (flow without 'friction'). Given that there are certain physical systems where this phenomenon is studied and controlled experimentally in great details (most notably trapped ultracold atoms and polaritons in semiconductors), and others were this is a theoretical prediction (e.g. in neutron stars), it was deemed appropriate to break the boundaries between different physics communities and discuss those systems in a unified manner, using a 'common language', following on from a similar very successful conference held in 1993.
The workshop was deemed a great success by all participants. In addition to 2 Nobel Laureatte Plenary speakers (Wolfgang Ketterle (MIT) and Anthony Leggett (Urbana)) who also participated in plenary discussion sessions, the workshop featured renowned key international participants covering the entire spectrum of relevant research themes (Ultracold Trapped Atomic Gases; Superfluids, Superconductors & Permanent Thermodynamic Transitions in Solids; Quasi-Equilibrium Condensates; Nuclear, Particle & Astrophysics; Phase Transitions & Quantum Quenches; Novel Interfaces & Applications), as well as a range of promising young researchers and advanced PhD students, including numerous female speakers. Participants felt that they had learnt significantly about the other systems exhibiting similar effects, overcoming the usual 'technical jargon' boundaries that sometimes restrict progress across active fields.
During the meeting, there were various ideas that appeared to be transferrable from one physical system to the other (mainly, but not exclusively, between atomic and polariton systems), and it is anticipated that the presentations and discussions will indirectly influence selected aspects of the research in those areas in the coming years. One of the plenary discussion held focused on creating a participant-based universal table of common and distinct features, benefits and shortcomings of the manifestations of Bose-Einstein condensation and related pairing phenomena in all systems, a resource anticipated to be useful to all researchers in those areas and made available on the workshop website.
An additional direct measure of the success of the workshop is evidenced in the fact that Cambridge University press has expressed an interest to publish a volume based largely on the contributions of the plenary and invited speakers of this workshop (along with selected key researchers who were not present). While still at the planning stage, this option is currently being actively investigated by some of the workshop organizers, and is in keeping with the very successful book published in the previous such meeting 20 years earlier.
The office allocation approach of the Lorentz Center, combined with the constant availability of coffee/tea/biscuits in the common room created an ideal atmosphere for both individual and group discussions (of which there were many), with many participants staying until Friday evening (after the formal workshop closing) to hold post-workshop discussions about potential new interdisciplinary projects. The Lorentz Centre staff are extremely helpful and attentive, and this adds to the friendly informal atmosphere for conducting excellent science. The insistence for free time and plenary discussions really paid off, the photographs nicely document the workshop and the boat cruise is a must for any future workshop organizer.