Fundamental Physics from the Planck Scale to the LHC

Lead Research Organisation: King's College London
Department Name: Mathematics

Abstract

The proposed research is part of a quest to understand Nature at its most fundamental level, leading to a single, complete and consistent theory of physics. At small distances the behaviour of matter and forces is governed by quantum mechanics. The subatomic electromagnetic, weak and strong forces have been well understood since the formulation of the Standard Model over 40 years ago. These forces and the particles they act upon are described by quantum field theory and it is crucial for mathematical consistency that the Standard Model incorporates a large amount of symmetry. The Standard Model has enjoyed spectacular experimental success, culminating in the 2012 discovery of the Higgs Boson at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the last particle predicted by the Standard Model that remained to be found.

Our current description of gravity is Einstein's very successful theory of General Relativity, which describes the motion of planets, stars and galaxies as well as the Universe as a whole. However General Relativity is not consistent with quantum mechanics and so cannot be combined with the Standard Model to provide a consistent theory of all the four forces. The Standard Model also fails to explain the hierarchy of mass scales in fundamental physics, the proliferation of particle types and the nature of the dark matter in the Universe, which is known to be present in large quantities but has not yet been detected.

It is widely believed that supersymmetry, which is a symmetry that exchanges fermions (such as the electron) with bosons (such as the photon), will play an important role in formulating a unified theory of the four forces. Supersymmetry predicts the existence of additional subatomic particles which have yet to be observed, and the search for these was an important motivation behind
the construction of the LHC. Indeed one of them could be dark matter, and hence play an important role structure formation in the universe. Other theories of physics beyond the Standard Model postulate that `elementary' particles are in fact extended, composite objects, or that there are more dimensions of space.

Strings are microscopic objects that are extended along one dimension and can vibrate, rather like strings on a violin. Although the underlying theory of strings and branes is not fully understood, their effects at low energies are completely described by supergravity theories and by studying these it has been realised that objects, called branes, and symmetries, called dualities, are important parts of the complete theory. Branes can be thought of as generalisations of strings to objects that are extended along more than one dimension. Remarkably, one finds that strings and branes can lead to consistent quantum theories in four dimensions that contain gravity as well as the Standard Model, while also offering prospects for novel physics beyond the Standard Model. Part of the proposed research aims to find and understand this underlying theory of string and branes.

Although quantum field theories have had spectacular theoretical and experimental success leading to the most accurately known confirmation between theory and experiment, there were, until the advent of supersymmetry, almost no quantities which have been computed exactly. Another part of our research is to further develop new techniques that have lead to the exact calculation of quite a number of important quantities in certain supersymmetric quantum field theories. This has lead to the hope that one can completely compute all quantities in such theories. We will also explore the possible consequences of strings and branes for physics beyond the Standard Model, and understanding what other new physics is being revealed by the LHC,astrophysical experiments and cosmology.

Planned Impact

The proposed research will benefit most directly those working on theoretical physics, in particular on supersymmetry, string
theory, particle physics phenomenology, astro-particle physics and cosmology: more generally, those seeking to find a single consistent theory of physics. There are hundreds of researchers working on these topics in dozens of universities within the UK, and many more worldwide. The work involves some of the most advanced mathematics, and hence is also relevant to mathematicians, in particular those working on group theory and geometry. This research is also directly relevant to those working in other areas of physics, such as experimental searches for new particles at the LHC, astro-particle experiments, the formulation of cosmological models of inflation, dark matter and galaxy creation,and theories of novel states of matter such as superconductors.

Past work on theoretical physics has, in the fullness of time, been of considerable use to society, either as a direct result of
the new physics found, or as a consequence of the new mathematics and technical developments that were developed. These have led to direct inputs into industry. Certainly our work is in this tradition.

Beyond academia the UK benefits from the training of young researchers in the ability to solve hard and complex problems. Indeed cutting-edge theoretical physics attracts young intellectual talent from both within and outside the UK. In the current internationally competitive economic environment it is critical for the UK's economy for it to train and attract people with the highest levels of analytical and quantitative skills. It is common for our PhD students, and sometimes also for our post-docs, to apply their skills and training that they have learnt to industry such as the financial, technology and bio-medical sectors. The later case in particular represents a significant influx of highly skilled individuals into the UK work force as most of our Post-docs receive their PhD's outside the UK. Thus there is a clear and important impact of fundamental research on the UK economy through its ability to attract highly skilled and analytical scientists from across the globe. It is fair to say that a crucial feature of the modern UK's economic and social wealth is its international reputation as a world leader for independent thinking in both the academic and industrial sectors.

In addition to these economic factors, the general public has strong interest in the fundamental questions about our Universe. This has recently been stimulated by the research at the LHC and, in particular, the discovery of the Higgs boson. The general public therefore benefits continuing investigation into Nature at its smallest scales, as proposed here.

In summary, the UK can be proud of having one of the world's most prestigious scientific traditions, which has long been a cornerstone of the UK's intellectual health, economic wealth and culture. Our proposed research will continue this tradition.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Astrophysics Grant Universe in the Light of Planck (Eugene Lim)
Amount £43,210 (GBP)
Funding ID ST/L000717/1 
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2014 
End 03/2017
 
Description Consolidated Grant: Dark matter and early universe in LHC era (Malcolm Fairbairn)
Amount £1,538,665 (GBP)
Funding ID 648680 
Organisation European Research Council (ERC) 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 10/2015 
End 09/2020
 
Description Simons Collaboration Grant on Special Holonomy in Geometry, Analysis and Physics
Amount £468,830 (GBP)
Organisation Simons Foundation 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United States
Start 07/2016 
End 06/2020
 
Description ATLAS Experiment (Bobby Acharya) 
Organisation European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN)
Department CERN LHC ATLAS
Country Switzerland 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Phenomenology and Experiment
Collaborator Contribution Phenomenology and Experiment
Impact Discoveries in Particle Physics, as the Higgs Boson
Start Year 2008
 
Description LIGO Scientific Collaboration (Mairi Sakellariadou) 
Organisation LIGO Scientific Collaboration
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Theoretical research
Collaborator Contribution Theoretical and experimental research
Impact Gravitational wave detector
Start Year 2015
 
Description MoEDAL Collaboration - LHC - CERN 
Organisation European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN)
Department CERN - Other
Country Switzerland 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Physics Coordinator
Collaborator Contribution Experimental and theoretical research
Impact Monopole detector built
Start Year 2011
 
Description Interview with Nature on the ILC 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Interview with Nature on the ILC
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Article in popular science magazine 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact An article was published in the popular science magazine EU Research, Winter 2017 edition, Pages 53-55 on my research on Quantum Black Holes. The url is here: https://issuu.com/euresearcher/docs/eur14_digital_magazine. This allowed for dissemination to a large readership who is interested in the latest developments in science, but beyond the niche experts who would read journal articles.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://issuu.com/euresearcher/docs/eur14_digital_magazine
 
Description Conference on Strings, Geometry, and Black holes 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact About 180 researchers and PhD students in string theory attended this international conference. This sparked many interesting discussions and we got very good feedback about the conference.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://people.maths.ox.ac.uk/schafernamek/StringGeoBH/index.html
 
Description Film interview on High-Luminosity LHC, CERN 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Film interview on High-Luminosity LHC, CERN
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Instagram page 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I manage an instagram page with currently over 60000 followers. I post photos of my art and explain the science underlying it, all based on my STFC funded research. I have direct contact with many of my followers who "like" my posts and comment on them and also email me questions about the art and about the science.

Many of those people that I engaged with told me that it attracts them to mathematics and physics. It helps them overcome fear and revulsion due to bad memories from school, and when presented by me they find it interesting and appealing.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017,2018,2019
URL http://www.instagram.com/nadavdrukker/
 
Description Interview in Reclaim Magazine 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I was interviewed for the magazine Reclaim describing my art/science activities. It appeared as a 6 page spread with photos.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Interview with El Tiempo newspaper, Bogotá 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Interview with El Tiempo newspaper, Bogotá
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Lecture on Particle Physics to Indian high-school students, CERN 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Lecture on Particle Physics to Indian high-school students, CERN
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Lecture on graffiti wall 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I made a graffiti wall explaining my research in Lambeth, south London. There was a small curious crowd assembled, that I explained some of the relevant concepts to. Beyond that it was visible to all the local inhabitants.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.instagram.com/p/BahdQQzBA6l/
 
Description Lecture to national student meeting, Porto 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Lecture to national student meeting, Porto
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Public lecture on Dark Matter, Universidad Nacional, Bogotá 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Public lecture on Dark Matter, Universidad Nacional, Bogotá
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Public talk on Dark Matter candidates, King's College London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Public talk on Dark Matter candidates, King's College London
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description School on localization and holography 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact 60 students and postdoctoral researchers attended this school and conference on the topics of Localization and Holography. This was held at the International Center for Theoretical Physics, Trieste. Sameer Murthy was one of the directors of the school. The students and postdocs came from a wide international background and they reported positively on learning a specialized topic which could be of use to them in their research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://indico.ictp.it/event/8560/
 
Description Talk on Gravitational Waves, Evian, France 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talk on Gravitational Waves, Evian, France
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Talk on Particle Physics to UK high-school teachers, CERN 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Talk on Particle Physics to UK high-school teachers, CERN
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Video interview about Future Circular Colliders, CERN 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Video interview about Future Circular Colliders, CERN
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description lecture at CERN 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Lecture for Norwegian undergraduate students
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017