Nav: Home

Nobel laureate Burton Richter to speak about future of particle physics

February 16, 2007

Particle physics is about to transform our thinking once again. Experiments of the last 15 years suggest new forms of matter, new forces of nature and perhaps even new dimensions of space and time. Pinning down the new ideas will require more data from larger and more expensive machines-at a time when funding is more difficult than ever to secure.

"As Dickens wrote, it is the best of times and the worst of times," says Nobel laureate Burton Richter, the Paul Pigott Professor in the Physical Sciences, Emeritus, at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and a pioneer of the particle colliders that now dominate high-energy physics. "We are in the midst of a revolution in understanding, but accelerator facilities are shutting down before new ones can open, and there is great uncertainty about future funding."

On Feb. 16, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco, Richter will speak about the future course for elementary particle physics. He will offer a short overview of current research and explain his view of the most important opportunities for the field today.

Over the last 15 years, physicists discovered that they understand much less of the universe than they thought. No longer do they believe that luminous matter alone fills up the vacuum of space. Instead, two mysterious substances-dark matter and dark energy-comprise 96 percent of the universe. Neutrinos, very light elementary particles that stream from the sun, change from one type of matter to another as they travel close to the speed of light. And the Standard Model-the theory once believed to describe all fundamental interactions-no longer describes all that we observe.

The next 15 years are likely to answer some questions and raise new ones, Richter says. Physicists hope to find what is beyond the Standard Model, what at least some of the dark matter is made of and what is driving the accelerating expansion of the universe. The next few years may even see an experimental test of theories that posit more dimensions than just three of space and one of time, including string theory.

Yet none of this can happen without new experiments and new machinery, Richter says. In choosing which experiments to fund, the particle physics community must make choices that will severely limit the pace of discovery in some areas.

"This is a time where we cannot afford the merely good, but must focus on the really important if we are to continue our quest to learn what the universe is made of and how it works," Richter says.

In the lecture, Richter will present his views on which experiments must be funded and which will have to wait. Specifically, he will discuss the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the proposed International Linear Collider (ILC), the need for accelerator research and development, the Joint Dark Energy Mission (JDEM) and Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) astroparticle experiments, and the critical questions that must be addressed regarding neutrinos.

The experiments

The LHC, now under construction at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), will begin colliding protons at the end of this year. Researchers hope this machine will finally reveal the Higgs boson, a particle theorized to give mass to matter. The LHC also may discover whether particles have supersymmetric partners and determine if extra dimensions exist, among other things.

If built, the ILC would offer a more detailed perspective of what the LHC finds. By colliding electrons and positrons at higher energies than ever before, the machine would allow physicists to see new particles in unprecedented detail. Experiments at the ILC also could help explain the dominance of matter over antimatter in the universe by exploring "charge-parity violation," an asymmetry between the behavior of matter and antimatter, and could identify the particles predicted by theories of supersymmetry and extra dimensions. If the LHC turns up nothing, however, it is unlikely that the ILC will get built, Richter says.

Searches for dark matter and dark energy underground, on the Earth's surface and in space also will be an essential element of progress, Richter says. This area includes JDEM, a space-based instrument to search for supernovae, and LSST, a ground-based telescope that will provide digital imaging of faint astronomical objects across the entire sky.

In the coming years, various neutrino experiments with reactors, accelerators and cosmic rays may even offer insight into charge-parity violation.

"There's a huge opportunity here," he says. "While we may not be able to do all of this as fast as we would like, we need to get the really important done even if it takes longer than we would wish. The results will tell us much more about the universe and how it works."

Also speaking at the session are Nobel laureate David Gross of the University of California-Santa Barbara (matter, space and time); Young-Kee Kim of the University of Chicago (today's particle physics frontier); Philip Bryant of CERN (the LHC); Albert De Roeck of CERN (the LHC); and Jonathan Bagger of Johns Hopkins University (the ILC).
-end-
News Service website:
http://www.stanford.edu/news/

Stanford Report (university newspaper):
http://news.stanford.edu

Most recent news releases from Stanford:
http://www.stanford.edu/dept/news/html/releases.html

COMMENT:
Burton Richter, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center: (650) 926-2601

EDITORS NOTE:

The symposium will take place Friday, Feb. 16, from 1:45 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. at the Hilton San Francisco, 333 O'Farrell St., San Francisco, CA 94102, in Continental Ballroom 3. A photo of Richter is available on the web at http://newsphotos.stanford.edu/.

RELEVANT WEB URLS:

BURTON RICHTER'S FACULTY PROFILE
http://www.slac.stanford.edu/slac/faculty/hepfaculty/richter.html

STANFORD LINEAR ACCELERATOR CENTER
http://slac.stanford.edu/

AMERICAN ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF SCIENCE
http://www.aaas.org/

EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE until Friday, Feb. 16, at 1:45 p.m. Pacific Time

Stanford University

Related Dark Matter Articles:

Does dark matter annihilate quicker in the Milky Way?
Researchers at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai have proposed a theory that predicts how dark matter may be annihilating much more rapidly in the Milky Way, than in smaller or larger galaxies and the early Universe.
Origin of Milky Way's hypothetical dark matter signal may not be so dark
A mysterious gamma-ray glow at the center of the Milky Way is most likely caused by pulsars.
A new look at the nature of dark matter
A new study suggests that the gravitational waves detected by the LIGO experiment must have come from black holes generated during the collapse of stars, and not in the earliest phases of the Universe.
Dark matter may be smoother than expected
Analysis of a giant new galaxy survey, made with ESO's VLT Survey Telescope in Chile, suggests that dark matter may be less dense and more smoothly distributed throughout space than previously thought.
Supercomputer comes up with a profile of dark matter
In the search for the mysterious dark matter, physicists have used elaborate computer calculations to come up with an outline of the particles of this unknown form of matter.
Mapping the 'dark matter' of human DNA
Researchers from ERIBA, Radboud UMC, XJTU, Saarland University, CWI and UMC Utrecht have made a big step towards a better understanding of the human genome.
Reconciling dwarf galaxies with dark matter
Dwarf galaxies are enigmas wrapped in riddles. Although they are the smallest galaxies, they represent some of the biggest mysteries about our universe.
Did gravitational wave detector find dark matter?
When an astronomical observatory detected two black holes colliding in deep space, scientists celebrated confirmation of Einstein's prediction of gravitational waves.
Dark matter does not contain certain axion-like particles
Researchers at Stockholm University are getting closer to corner light dark-matter particle models.
SDU researchers present a new model for what dark matter might be
There are indications that we might never see the universe's mysterious dark matter.

Related Dark Matter Reading:

Dark Matter: A Novel
by Blake Crouch (Author)

A mindbending, relentlessly surprising thriller from the author of the bestselling Wayward Pines trilogy.

“Are you happy with your life?”

 
Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.
 
Before he awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.
 
Before a man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.” 
 
In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife.... View Details


Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe
by Lisa Randall (Author)

“A cracking read, combining storytelling of the highest order with a trove of information. . . . What’s remarkable is that it all fits together.”—Wall Street Journal

“Successful science writing tells a complete story of the ‘how’—the methodical marvel building up to the ‘why’—and Randall does just that.”—New York Times Book Review

“[Randall] is a lucid explainer, street-wise and informal. Without jargon or mathematics, she steers us through centuries of sometimes tortuous astronomical... View Details


Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter (Hinges of History)
by Thomas Cahill (Author)

In Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea, his fourth volume to explore “the hinges of history,” Thomas Cahill escorts the reader on another entertaining—and historically unassailable—journey through the landmarks of art and bloodshed that defined Greek culture nearly three millennia ago.

In the city-states of Athens and Sparta and throughout the Greek islands, honors could be won in making love and war, and lives were rife with contradictions. By developing the alphabet, the Greeks empowered the reader, demystified experience, and opened the way for civil discussion and... View Details


Dark Matter Volume 1: Rebirth
by Joseph Mallozzi (Author), Garry Brown (Illustrator)

TV series, Dark Matter, to premiere on Syfy June 12, 2015!

The six-person crew of a derelict spaceship awakens from stasis in the farthest reaches of space. Their memories wiped clean, they haveno recollection of who they are or how they go on board. The only clue to their identities is a cargo bay full of weaponry and a destination—a remote mining colony that is about to become a war zone! With no idea whose side they are on, they face a deadly decision. Will these amnesiacs turn their backs onhistory, or will their pasts catch up with them?

Collects issues #1-#4 of... View Details


Dark Matter: Star Carrier: Book Five (Star Carrier Series)
by Ian Douglas (Author)

An enemy might just have to become an ally . . . in order to save humankind

The United States of North America is now engaged in a civil war with the Earth Confederation, which wants to yield to the demands of the alien Sh'daar, limit human technology, and become a part of the Sh'daar Galactic Collective. USNA President Koenig believes that surrendering to the Sh'daar will ultimately doom humankind.

But when highly advanced, seemingly godlike aliens appear through an artificial wormhole in the Omega Centauri Cluster 16,000 light years from Earth, President Koenig is... View Details


Dark Matter
by Blake Crouch (Author)

fiction View Details


Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness
by Simone Browne (Author)

In Dark Matters Simone Browne locates the conditions of blackness as a key site through which surveillance is practiced, narrated, and resisted. She shows how contemporary surveillance technologies and practices are informed by the long history of racial formation and by the methods of policing black life under slavery, such as branding, runaway slave notices, and lantern laws. Placing surveillance studies into conversation with the archive of transatlantic slavery and its afterlife, Browne draws from black feminist theory, sociology, and cultural studies to analyze texts as diverse as... View Details


Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora
by Sheree Renée Thomas (Editor)

This volume introduces black science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction writers to the generations of readers who have not had the chance to explore the scope and diversity among African-American writers. View Details


The 4 Percent Universe: Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and the Race to Discover the Rest of Reality
by Richard Panek (Author)

“Fascinating . . . One of the most important stories in the history of science.”— Washington Post

In recent years, a handful of scientists has been racing to explain a disturbing aspect of our universe: only 4 percent of it consists of the matter that makes up you, me, and every star and planet. The rest is completely unknown.
Richard Panek tells the dramatic story of how scientists reached this cosmos-shattering conclusion. In vivid detail, he narrates the quest to find the “dark” matter and an even more bizarre substance called dark energy that make up 96... View Details


Dancers After Dark
by Jordan Matter (Author)

Dancers After Dark is an amazing celebration of the human body and the human spirit, as dancers, photographed nude and at night, strike poses of fearless beauty.

Without a permit or a plan, Jordan Matter led hundreds of the most exciting dancers in the world out of their comfort zones—not to mention their clothes—to explore the most compelling reaches of beauty and the human form. After all the risk and daring, the result is extraordinary: 300 dancers, 400 locations, more than 150 stunning photographs. And no clothes, no arrests, no regrets.

Each image... View Details

Best Science Podcasts 2017

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2017. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Going Undercover
Are deception and secrecy categorically wrong? Or can they be a necessary means to an end? This hour, TED speakers share stories of going undercover to explore unknown territory, and find the truth. Guests include poet and activist Theo E.J. Wilson, journalist Jamie Bartlett, counter-terrorism expert Mubin Shaikh, and educator Shabana Basij-Rasikh.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#452 Face Recognition and Identity
This week we deep dive into the science of how we recognize faces and why some of us are better -- or worse -- at this than others. We talk with Brad Duchaine, Professor of Psychology at Dartmouth College, about both super recognizers and face blindness. And we speak with Matteo Martini, Psychology Lecturer at the University of East London, about a study looking at twins who have difficulty telling which one of them a photo was of. Charity Links: Union of Concerned Scientists Evidence For Democracy Sense About Science American Association for the Advancement of Science Association for Women...