Friday, December 27, 2013

An Interview with Robert Birgeneau, Former Chancellor of Berkeley

Here's an excerpt from one of my recent articles that's based on a recent interview with Robert Birgeneau, the former Chancellor of Berkeley and former President of the University of Toronto before that.  He happens to be an alumnus of St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto, where I also did my undergraduate degree.  The article was published in a special fall issue of the St. Michael's College alumni magazine.
Everyone is familiar with the common phases of matter—solids, liquids and gases—and the transitions between them. Whether it’s freezing condensation on a window or ice melting in water, materials constantly change from one phase to another.

Much of Dr. Robert Birgeneau’s professional life has been dedicated to understanding how different materials go through phase transitions, and there’s much more to them than temperature. “What you learn very quickly is that the nature of a material’s phase transition depends on many other features,” says Birgeneau, adding that part of the challenge in his research is finding good models for phase transitions in systems that might exist in worlds with more or less than three dimensions. ...
Read the rest of the original article at the St. Michael's College Alumni site.