Center Hosts Workshops on Current Topics in Fundamental Physics

March 20, 2014

The Amherst Center for Fundamental Interactions (ACFI), directed by Michael Ramsey-Musolf, physics, will host workshops in April and May to bring researchers from around the world to campus to discuss current topics in fundamental physics. The aim is to provide an opportunity for researchers from around the world to interact in focused, short-term events, each addressing an important open problem in the “energy,” “intensity” and “cosmic” frontiers of physics and at their intersection.

Workshops involve 10 to 20 participants who meet over three days, focusing on a specific problem and forming a plan for on-going research by its conclusion, Ramsey-Musolf explains.

The next event in the series, “Lambda and Quasi-lambda,” focusing on the cosmic frontier, will be held from Thursday, April 10, 9 a.m., through Saturday, April 12 at 5 p.m. in 419B Lederle Graduate Research Tower (LGRT). The emphasis will be on the cosmological constant, bringing together perspectives from astrophysical observations, quantum gravity, and string theory.

According to organizers, “De Sitter and Anti-deSitter provide simple, yet rich, playgrounds for studying quantum gravity and quantum field theory. On the observational side, Planck has provided a data set with unprecedented accuracy concerning (what we believe to be) a primordial epoch of quasi-de Sitter expansion. The goal of the workshop will be to study what data can teach us about the fundamental properties of exact (anti) de Sitter spaces.” Co-organizers are Mirjam Cvetic of the University of Pennsylvania, David Lowe of Brown University, and David Kastor, Lorenzo Sorbo and Jennie Traschen of the physics department.

The final workshop, “Unlocking Higgs Portal,” will begin at 9 a.m. on Thursday, May 1 and end on Saturday, May 3 at 5 pm., also in 419B LGRT. Ramsey-Musolf says, “Higgs portal interactions can address two open problems in cosmology: dark matter and the baryon asymmetry. In anticipation of the 14 TeV phase of the LHC and the development of a future electron-positron collider, it is timely to delineate the most important scenarios, to identify their LHC and lepton collider signatures, and to determine the extent to which collider searches may probe Higgs portal scenarios in the cosmologically relevant regions of parameter space.”

Co-organizers with the ACFI director are John Paul Chou of Rutgers University and Shufang Su of the University of Arizona, with Ben Brau, Carlo Dallapicola and Stephane Willocq of the physics department.

All members of the campus community are welcome to attend the upcoming workshops to interact with visitors and “learn about and discuss exciting physics and to share the story about the forefront research being carried out by members of our department,” Ramsey-Musolf notes.

The first workshop, “Hadronic Probes of Fundamental Symmetries,” took place in March and brought 14 physicists to campus including six from Europe. They focused on opportunities for searching for physics beyond the Standard Model in low-energy hadronic interactions, which can be studied at the Thomas Jefferson National Laboratory and elsewhere. Plans for refined theoretical studies that would undergird future experimental efforts were initiated. That event was sponsored by the ACFI, the Jefferson Laboratory, University of North Carolina Wilmington and Jefferson Science Associates.