Hydrodynamic Analogues of Quantum Systems

Math Physics Seminar
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - 15:00
1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
Physics Howey L5
Department of Mathematics, MIT

Hosted by Predrag Cvitanović, School of Physics, Georgia Tech.

Yves Couder and coworkers have recently reported the results of a startling series of experiments in which droplets bouncing on a fluid surface exhibit wave-particle duality and, as a consequence, several dynamical features previously thought to be peculiar to the microscopic realm, including single-particle diffraction, interference, tunneling and quantized orbits. We explore this fluid system in light of the Madelung transformation, whereby Schrodinger's equation is recast in a hydrodynamic form. Doing so reveals a remarkable correspondence between bouncing droplets and subatomic particles, and provides rationale for the observed macroscopic quantum behaviour. New experiments are presented, and indicate the potential value of this hydrodynamic approach to both visualizing and understanding quantum mechanics.