Dec 9, 2015

Quantum physics problem proved unsolvable: Godel and Turing enter quantum physics

Posted by in category: quantum physics

A mathematical problem underlying fundamental questions in particle and quantum physics is provably unsolvable, according to scientists at UCL, Universidad Complutense de Madrid — ICMAT and Technical University of Munich.

It is the first major problem in physics for which such a fundamental limitation could be proven. The findings are important because they show that even a perfect and complete description of the microscopic properties of a material is not enough to predict its macroscopic behaviour.

A small spectral gap — the energy needed to transfer an electron from a low-energy state to an excited state — is the central property of semiconductors. In a similar way, the spectral gap plays an important role for many other materials. When this energy becomes very small, i.e. the spectral gap closes, it becomes possible for the material to transition to a completely different state. An example of this is when a material becomes superconducting.

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