PLANCKS 2015 in Leiden, with lectures by John Pendry, John Ellis, Erik Verlinde, Carlo Beenakker, and Leo Kouwenhoven



14:00-21:00 hrs


Gorlaeus Laboratoria (Einsteinweg 55, 2333CC Leiden)


PLANCKS is an acronym for Physics League Across Numerous Countries for Kick-ass Students. PLANCKS is an annual international physics contest for bachelor- and master students. The event will be a three day event and includes a symposium, the contest itself, an excursion, an informal get together with drinks, a party and the award ceremony. 

Symposium Program

To kick off the PLANCKS competition there will be a symposium on Friday May 22nd from 14:00 till 21:00 CET. The symposium will take place at the Gorlaeus Laboratoria (Einsteinweg 55, 2333CC Leiden) and will be open to the public. The tickets are available here.

13:00-14:00 Walk-in
Scan your ticket and receive a bracelet. This bracelet indicates if you are joining the buffet, the students barbecue or if you are only attending the lectures.

14:00-14:15 Opening
Please be in time!

14:15-15:00 Carlo Beenakker – Majorana particles
Since the discovery of electron-positron annihilation we know that some particles have an antiparticle and if the two meet they destroy each other. Ettore Majorana suggested in the 1930’s that a particle might be its own antiparticle, so pairs would have to remain widely separated to survive. An example of such a Majorana particle was constructed recently in Delft, using a superconducting “sea” of electrons to hide the charge difference between particle and antiparticle. (One speaks of a “quasiparticle” because it is not a fundamental particle.) The application may be found in the area of quantum computers, using pairs of Majorana particles to store quantum information in a way which is protected from decoherence.

15:00-15:45 Leo Kouwenhoven – Are we ready to build a quantum computer?
Richard Feynman speculated about it early 1980’s, Peter Shor came up with an algorithm mid 1990’s and ever since physicists dream of making a quantum computer. Progress was made on the building blocks, the qubits, in the years of 2000-2010. Now it is the decade of quantum circuits with a handful of qubits. The large companies like Google, Microsoft and IBM start to make big investments. No big IT company wants to miss the quantum revolution. But are we actually ready to build a quantum computer?

15:45-16:30 Coffee break
Grab some coffee or tea and talk about the previous or upcoming lectures.

16:30-17:30 John Ellis – TBA

17:30-18:30 John Pendry – Metamaterials & the Science of Invisibility
Electromagnetism encompasses much of modern technology. Its influence rests on our ability to deploy materials that can control the component electric and magnetic fields. A new class of materials has created some extraordinary possibilities such as a negative refractive index, and lenses whose resolution is limited only by the precision with which we can manufacture them. Cloaks have been designed and built that hide objects within them, but remain completely invisible to external observers. The new materials, named metamaterials, have properties determined as much by their internal physical structure as by their chemical composition and the radical new properties to which they give access promise to transform our ability to control much of the electromagnetic spectrum.

18:30-20:00 Dinner break
For €15 extra you can join the buffet. The catering company Catootje will serve a delicious Mediterranean buffet.
If you are a student you are also able to come to a barbecue instead. For €7.50 you can join the barbecue organised by the study association De Leidsche Flesch.

20:00-20:45 Erik Verlinde – A New Theory of Gravity
At present we are witnessing a revolution in theoretical physics leading to a completely new view on space-time and gravity. Studies in string theory and black hole physics have revealed a deep connection between the structure of space-time and gravity and key concepts of quantum information theory. A central role in these developments is played by quantum entanglement and its associated entanglement entropy. This new theory on gravity and space-time has particularly important implications for cosmology, where it leads to a natural explanation of the observed phenomena associated to dark energy and dark matter.

20:45-21:00 Closing

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