Yuval Baum

Yuval Baum 2017-05-17T12:44:15+00:00

Project Description

Yuval Baum

“Physics has always fascinated me.  Even when I was young, I wanted to understand how things happen, and in theoretical physics, I have an opportunity to ask questions that help us understand more about the way the world works.  I also like mathematics.  It is always beautiful to see abstract mathematical tools somehow conspire with nature and to see that there are mathematical frameworks that can completely explain and help us understand the world around us.”

  • IQIM Postdoctoral Scholar in Quantum Information and Quantum Matter

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Interview

What is your current research?

I am interested in theoretical physics and electronic systems.  The main goal in my work is to find out whether or not we can get something from our ideas that we cannot get in other ways.

Right now I am working on two main topics.  The first is memory effects in quantum mechanics.  We know how particles accelerate based on force, but we do not know if they can remember their past.  I am looking to see if there is any memory of previous interactions with other electrons or the environment and if the dynamics are affected by memory.  I take quantum mechanics questions that we know how to solve, and I add in memory to see if we get an effect.  If quantum systems have memory, perhaps we can prevent decoherence of the quantum properties even as the environment interacts with the system.  Perhaps quantum systems remember what it is to be quantum.

I also investigate topological effects on electronic properties.  While we know a lot about how topological effects affect the properties of electrons in metals, more knowledge will give us insight into phenomena that we do not understand.  My work focuses on taking the concept to the extreme and trying to control the topological effects.  I am interested in whether we can control the topological properties of electrons by changing the crystal properties.  

What drew you to this work?

Physics has always fascinated me.  Even when I was young, I wanted to understand how things happen, and in theoretical physics, I have an opportunity to ask questions that help us understand more about the way the world works.  I also like mathematics.  It is always beautiful to see abstract mathematical tools somehow conspire with nature and to see that there are mathematical frameworks that can completely explain and help us understand the world around us.

I decided to work in theory because you have the freedom to think about things and ask questions that may reach beyond the scope of the current interests of the field.  I like that you can think about something, why particular things happen, and then through questioning, you might be able to explain something new.  I have been studying topological effects for quite some time, and one of the fun things about this work is that while it’s very interesting, the problems are also quite accessible and the questions can be answered.  

What do you do when you’re not doing physics?

Hiking and traveling are by far my favorite things to do.  Since coming to Los Angeles, I have had the opportunity to travel around much of the West, and there are so many things to see.  My wife and I try to hike whenever we can, and we also enjoy playing tennis.  Every year we try to do a big trip, and so far we have seen some amazing things like the northern lights in Lapland, the Himalayas, and quite a bit of Europe.  While we are in Los Angeles we are really looking forward to having the opportunity to explore more of the U.S. as well.   

I also enjoy cooking.  It’s great to get to try new things, and often we cook up something and then invite people over on the weekends.