Prof. Baruch Meerson

Louis and Ida Shlansky Chair of Physics

Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Racah Institute of Physics
Jerusalem 91904, Israel
+972 2 658 4470
+972 2 658 4396
A picture of Baruch Meerson

CV and publication list

Google Scholar profile

My Present and Past Research Interests:

There are openings for excellent M. Sc. and Ph. D. students and for a postdoctoral associate

Our main research area is non-equilibrium statistical mechanics. We mostly study atypically large fluctuations in different non-equilibrium stochastic systems. Rare large fluctuations are important in a large variety of situations: from a sudden extinction event in a long-lived population of animals to a rare large peak in the height of a growing surface, and to the unusual trajectory of the first among myriads of sperm cells, competing with each other for reaching the oocyte. One group of projects deals with the development and implementation of a novel and efficient description of a whole class of stochastic processes with the help of an approximation method akin to geometrical optics. The work involves a combination of analytical methods of theoretical physics and applied mathematics and numerical simulations.

We have recently determined, by the Inverse Scattering Method, the full statistics of nonstationary heat transfer in the Kipnis-Marchioro-Presutti lattice gas model 1

Here are our papers 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 , 13 on large deviations of the surface height in the Kardar-Parisi-Zhang equation.

Suppose that a gas of interacting diffusing particles is trapped inside a cavity with a small hole. What is the average exit time of the first particle from the cavity? Look here .

Why so many sperm cells? This question motivated this paper .

Did you know that Brownian motion (and fractional Brownian motion) can sometimes be described by geometrical optics? Look at these papers 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5

How long will it take for an isolated population (of bacteria, plants, animals or even people) to go extinct? Here are some of our papers - 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , a non-technical review - 6 , and a more comprehensive review - 7 on this kind of problems.

Is there anything in common between a bunch of marbles and an expanding universe? Take a look at one of our papers on clustering in a freely cooling granular gas.

One fascinating granular phenomenon that we worked on is granular levitation , when a heavy close-packed granular cluster is supported from below by a dilute granular gas. Here is our paper on the theory and simulations of this system.

You can also watch a Flash Movie 6.0 (1.2 Mb.) of experiment (by I. Aranson et al.) showing Ostwald ripening far from equilibrium: coarsening of granular clusters in electrostatically-driven metallic powders. Here is our paper on a theory of this process.

Fractal coarsening is a shape relaxation of fractal objects by surface tension or another "fractality spoiler". Enjoy a small animation, or a larger-scale movie of the diffusion-controlled coarsening of a DLA cluster, as seen in numerical simulations. Here is our pioneering work on this subject. Why do not this and other related systems show simple dynamic scaling behaviors? See this paper.

What is autoresonance? Here are two of our several papers that dealt with this phenomenon: in theory and in experiment

I also worked in plasma physics. Here is a review I wrote on nonlinear dynamics of thermal instability in plasmas that are cooled by their own radiation.

In 2012 I was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society. Here is the citation. In 2021 I left the APS.

In 2009 I organized international workshop "Giant Fluctuations in Population Dynamics" in Leiden, the Netherlands.

My previous research interests

embraced a broad variety of subjects in nonlinear, non-equilirium and statistical physics. Among them was the discovery in 1979 (together with E.A. Oks and P.V. Sasorov) of chaos in highly-excited (Rydberg) atoms driven by an oscillating electric field. This was one of the pioneering papers defining the field of quantum chaos. Here is our 1979 paper.

When I was a student,

two great physicists, Lev Landau and Richard Feynman, were my heroes. Here are portraits of Lev Landau and Richard Feynman, painted by Nataly Meerson. Here is the online gallery of Nataly. Nataly also painted my portrait that is displayed on this webpage.