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This book addresses a basic question in differential geometry that was first considered by physicists Stanley Deser and Adam Schwimmer in 1993 in their study of conformal anomalies. The question concerns conformally invariant functionals on the space of Riemannian metrics over a given manifold. These functionals act on a metric by first constructing a Riemannian scalar out of it, and then integrating this scalar over the manifold. Suppose this integral remains invariant under conformal re-scalings of the underlying metric. What information can one then deduce about the Riemannian scalar? Deser and Schwimmer asserted that the Riemannian scalar must be a linear combination of three obvious candidates, each of which clearly satisfies the required property: a local conformal invariant, a divergence of a Riemannian vector field, and the Chern-Gauss-Bonnet integrand. This book provides a proof of this conjecture. The result itself sheds light on the algebraic structure of conformal anomalies, which appear in many settings in theoretical physics. It also clarifies the geometric significance of the renormalized volume of asymptotically hyperbolic Einstein manifolds. The methods introduced here make an interesting connection between algebraic properties of local invariants--such as the classical Riemannian invariants and the more recently studied conformal invariants--and the study of global invariants, in this case conformally invariant integrals. Key tools used to establish this connection include the Fefferman-Graham ambient metric and the author's super divergence formula.
What can fashionable ideas, blind faith, or pure fantasy possibly have to do with the scientific quest to understand the universe? Surely, theoretical physicists are immune to mere trends, dogmatic beliefs, or flights of fancy? In fact, acclaimed physicist and bestselling author Roger Penrose argues that researchers working at the extreme frontiers of physics are just as susceptible to these forces as anyone else. In this provocative book, he argues that fashion, faith, and fantasy, while sometimes productive and even essential in physics, may be leading today's researchers astray in three of the field's most important areas—string theory, quantum mechanics, and cosmology. Arguing that string theory has veered away from physical reality by positing six extra hidden dimensions, Penrose cautions that the fashionable nature of a theory can cloud our judgment of its plausibility. In the case of quantum mechanics, its stunning success in explaining the atomic universe has led to an uncritical faith that it must also apply to reasonably massive objects, and Penrose responds by suggesting possible changes in quantum theory. Turning to cosmology, he argues that most of the current fantastical ideas about the origins of the universe cannot be true, but that an even wilder reality may lie behind them. Finally, Penrose describes how fashion, faith, and fantasy have ironically also shaped his own work, from twistor theory, a possible alternative to string theory that is beginning to acquire a fashionable status, to "conformal cyclic cosmology," an idea so fantastic that it could be called "conformal crazy cosmology." The result is an important critique of some of the most significant developments in physics today from one of its most eminent figures.
This richly illustrated book examines the changing significance of ruins as vehicles for cultural memory in Chinese art and visual culture from ancient times to the present. The story of ruins in China is different from but connected to ‘ruin culture’ in the West. This book explores indigenous Chinese concepts of ruins and their visual manifestations, as well as the complex historical interactions between China and the West since the eighteenth century. Wu Hung leads us through an array of traditional and contemporary visual materials, including painting, architecture, photography, prints and cinema. A Story of Ruins shows how ruins are integral to traditional Chinese culture in both architecture and pictorial forms. It traces the changes in their representation over time, from indigenous methods of recording damage and decay in ancient China, to realistic images of architectural ruins in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, to the strong interest in urban ruins in contemporary China, as shown in the many artworks that depict demolished houses and decaying industrial sites. The result is an original interpretation of the development of Chinese art, as well as a unique contribution to global art history.
Theoretical physicists have predicted that the scaling limits of many two-dimensional lattice models in statistical physics are in some sense conformally invariant. This belief has allowed physicists to predict many quantities for these critical systems. The nature of these scaling limits has recently been described precisely by using one well-known tool, Brownian motion, and a new construction, the Schramm-Loewner evolution (SLE). This book is an introduction to the conformally invariant processes that appear as scaling limits. The following topics are covered: stochastic integration; complex Brownian motion and measures derived from Brownian motion; conformal mappings and univalent functions; the Loewner differential equation and Loewner chains; the Schramm-Loewner evolution (SLE), which is a Loewner chain with a Brownian motion input; and applications to intersection exponents for Brownian motion. The prerequisites are first-year graduate courses in real analysis, complex analysis, and probability. The book is suitable for graduate students and research mathematicians interested in random processes and their applications in theoretical physics.
Robust chaos is defined by the absence of periodic windows and coexisting attractors in some neighborhoods in the parameter space of a dynamical system. This unique book explores the definition, sources, and roles of robust chaos. The book is written in a reasonably self-contained manner and aims to provide students and researchers with the necessary understanding of the subject. Most of the known results, experiments, and conjectures about chaos in general and about robust chaos in particular are collected here in a pedagogical form. Many examples of dynamical systems, ranging from purely mathematical to natural and social processes displaying robust chaos, are discussed in detail. At the end of each chapter is a set of exercises and open problems (more than 260 in the whole book) intended to reinforce the ideas and provide additional experiences for both readers and researchers in nonlinear science in general, and chaos theory in particular.

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