Investigations in Theoretical Particle Physics

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Applied Maths and Theoretical Physics

Abstract

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will start operating this year, colliding protons at much greater energies than ever achieved before. Through Einstein's famous equation $E=mc^2$, this greater energy can be turned into the masses of heavier particles than ever seen before. Hints from experiments a decade ago suggest that at least the Higgs particle, or something very like it, should be produced at LHC. The Cambridge group are developing techniques to extract the few Higgs particles' signature decays from the billions upon billions of other particles produced. We shall study how to extract properties of the Higgs particle from the data, including its spin, which theorists have predicted to be zero. Building accurate computer simulations of the collisions and subsequent decays is one important activity. In our current theories, the Higgs particle is responsible for the origin of the mass of all other fundamental particles, but it is a puzzle why the Higgs is not far heavier still. Speculative ideas such as supersymmetry, or extra space dimensions, can solve the puzzle, but we cannot believe in these unless their effects are unambiguously measured. One possible effect is the production of particles of dark matter at the LHC, whose signature is 'missing energy' in the particle collision. We shall need to investigate any dark matter signatures and check whether they are compatible with our theories of the early universe. Analysing data is difficult because many of the particles produced are complicated lumps of more fundamental particles, the quarks, stuck together by the strong nuclear force. Indeed, the initial protons colliding at the LHC are like this. There is no easy way to calculate what happens in this 'sticking together' process, and special mathematical techniques have to be developed. This is an important focus of our work at Cambridge. In some of our theories the equations have a lot of hidden symmetry that can be teased-out and exploited; in others we can approximate space-time by a set of discrete points and do calculations on computers. One problem we want to solve is how protons and neutrons themselves stick together in the nuclei of atoms. We are developing approximate theories in which the shapes of nuclei come out as solutions of the equations. Even if the Higgs and supersymmetry were to be discovered, there remain many mysteries in particle physics. For example, how does gravity fit into particle physics? Mathematically, gravity leads to inconsistencies in particle theories at distance scales much smaller than the size of a proton, possibly because space-time itself becomes fuzzy through quantum fluctuations. String theory, with its tiny curled-up extra dimensions, offers our best hope of a mathematically consistent solution. Much of the group's effort will go into further investigating, checking and developing the mathematical structure of string theory. String theories partly predict what new particles might be discovered at the LHC. These predictions emerge when one tries to build explicit stringy theories incorporating the particles we already know about. Known particles place constraints on the shape of the curled-up extra dimensions, and this is very interesting mathematically. We shall be considering the effects of all this on our understanding of the universe as a whole. For instance, string theory has interesting consequences for 'bounce' solutions of the universe where it continually collapses and re-expands, smoothing out the big bang singularity through quantum mechanics. This, and alternative models of the universe, will be tested against measurements of the after-glow of the big bang -- the Cosmic Microwave sky -- and the increasingly accurate measurements of the amount of 'dark energy' and 'dark matter' in the universe.

Publications


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AbdusSalam S (2011) Cold dark matter hypotheses in the MSSM in Physics Letters B

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AbdusSalam S (2011) Benchmark models, planes, lines and points for future SUSY searches at the LHC in The European Physical Journal C

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AbdusSalam S (2009) Selecting a model of supersymmetry breaking mediation in Physical Review D

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AbdusSalam S (2010) Fitting the phenomenological MSSM in Physical Review D

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Abel S (2009) Phenomenology of pure general gauge mediation in Journal of High Energy Physics

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Adamo T (2011) Scattering amplitudes and Wilson loops in twistor space in Journal of Physics A: Mathematical and Theoretical


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Aharony O (2013) Confinement in anti-de Sitter space in Journal of High Energy Physics


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Allanach B (2011) Erratum 2: supersymmetric monojets at the Large Hadron Collider in Journal of High Energy Physics

 
Description Mainly by other academics in research
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Education,Other
Impact Types Cultural,Societal
 
Description EPSRC - EP/F010427/1 Software Development for UKQCD.
Amount £20,671 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 10/2009 
End 10/2012
 
Description ERC - 24752 String: Properties and Applications of the Gauge/Gravity Correspondence.
Amount £13,288,929 (GBP)
Organisation European Research Council (ERC) 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 10/2010 
End 09/2014
 
Description STFC - PP/E006957/1 Probing new physics through $B$-mixing and decays.
Amount £192,351 (GBP)
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 10/2008 
End 09/2010
 
Description STFC - ST/H008861/1 Computing resources and software support for UKQCD physics programme.
Amount £395,000 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 10/2007 
End 03/2009
 
Description Brax 
Organisation National Center for Scientific Research (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique CNRS)
Department CEA Saclay
Country France, French Republic 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Papers on Chameleon Cosmology. Supervision of two graduate students.
Collaborator Contribution Papers on Chameleon Cosmology.
Impact Many well-cited publications.
 
Description EU COST 
Organisation Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare
Department Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare - Milano
Country Italy, Italian Republic 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Research on applying String Theory to Early Universe Cosmology.
Collaborator Contribution Research in aspects of String Theory
Impact Papers in progress
Start Year 2012
 
Description Geometry of Matter 
Organisation Heriot-Watt University
Department Mathematics Department Heriot-Watt
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Research leading to a paper. Supervision of a graduate student , a further joint paper. The student expects to complete his PhD in 2013, and will move to Heriot-Watt as a postdoc in 2013.
Collaborator Contribution Research, calculations, leading to paper
Impact Papers: Geometric Models of Matter; Gravitational Instantons as Models for Charged Particle Systems
Start Year 2011
 
Description Geometry of Matter 
Organisation University of Edinburgh
Department School of Mathematics
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Research leading to a paper. Supervision of a graduate student , a further joint paper. The student expects to complete his PhD in 2013, and will move to Heriot-Watt as a postdoc in 2013.
Collaborator Contribution Research, calculations, leading to paper
Impact Papers: Geometric Models of Matter; Gravitational Instantons as Models for Charged Particle Systems
Start Year 2011
 
Description High Precision QCD 
Organisation Cornell University
Department Department of Physics
Country United States of America 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Lattice QCD and prediction of experimentally verifiable properties of Heavy Mesons, relevant to LHC physics.
Collaborator Contribution As above.
Impact Papers, Reports, Conference Proceedings
 
Description High Precision QCD 
Organisation University of Glasgow
Department Physics and Astronomy Department
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Lattice QCD and prediction of experimentally verifiable properties of Heavy Mesons, relevant to LHC physics.
Collaborator Contribution As above.
Impact Papers, Reports, Conference Proceedings
 
Description UKQCD 
Organisation University of Glasgow
Department Physics and Astronomy Department
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Calculations in Lattice QCD. Several papers per year published, and contributed to annual Lattice conference. Two members of the group have supervised two graduate students. Procurement of Computing Resources -- notably hosting the STFC DiRAC computer.
Collaborator Contribution Calculations in Lattice QCD and many joint papers. Joint procurement of DiRAC and IBM Blue Gene Q system in Edinburgh.
Impact Publications and Conference Proceedings
 
Description Appeared in a Radio 4 programme about cosmic disasters 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Proposed ideas about the way the universe may change in the future.

Popularised particle physics to a wide audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2006
 
Description Articles on theoretical physics in Plus Magazine 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact We were interviewed for several articles on aspects of our research.

Plus web-pages, viewed by schools and the public
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2011,2012,2013
 
Description BBC Horizon programme on theoretical physics 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Viewers saw across UK on TV signals and on internet

BBC video available on line for limited period
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description BBC Radio 4 interview 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Contribution to a radio show on cosmic disasters.

Heighten public awareness.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2006
 
Description CET - SET for Britain Poster exhibtion 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact An event for Early Career Researchers attended by Politicians and others
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.setforbritain.org.uk/index.asp
 
Description Creation of a short IoP film called "Baths and Quarks" 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact It has received around 20,000 views on YouTube. It explains solitons and their
relationship to quarks. This was mailed to sixth forms around to country to encourage students
to go into physics.

YouTube video
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Frontiers BBC Radio 4 Programme 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01nq41t

podcast permanently available from BBC website
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Guest posts on science blogs 
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 Quantum diaries survivor posts (readership in the 10 000s)

http://www.science20.com/quantum_diaries_survivor/ben_allanach_impact_cms_supersymmetry_search_global_supersymmetric_fits-76599
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2011,2012,2013
 
Description Hosting CERN dinner at TED Global event 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 40 notable billionaire CEOs, civil servants and prominent artists came to the dinner and were given presentations and talked to informally about LHC physics

NA
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009,2012
 
Description Internet TV interview with Morgan Freeman on holographic principle 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Internet 10 minute video segment

Will be available internationally on paid internet TV
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Interview about searches at LHC in a BBC magazine. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Interview in BBC Focus magazine which deals with "Science Technology and the Future."

General information on the experiments being carried out at the LHC.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
 
Description Interview in the New Scientist 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Interview to heighten awareness of Black Holes

Greater public understanding
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2006
 
Description Interviews in UK newspapers, magazines on theoretical physics 
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 We have had many interviews on LHC physics and other topics in theoretical physics published in various magazines etc

Articles in the online and paper versions
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2011,2012,2013
 
Description LHC promotional video. 
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 Took part in a promotional video highlighting the LHC and funded by STFC.

Awareness raising of the work being carried out at CERN and what the LHC is for and why this particular scientific endeavor is fundamentally important.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
 
Description MBG Newspaper Article 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Interviews with journalists leading to a number of newspaper articles on String Theory

Further requests for interviews
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description MH - Cambridge Science Festival 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact A practical demonstration of Solitons
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description MH - SET for Britain Poster exhibtion 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact An event for early-career researchers attended by MP's and others.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.setforbritain.org.uk/index.asp
 
Description Maths Open day 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Poster Presentation
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We hold a bi-annual departmental open
day, explaining our research to school children and the general public, including many children

These events typically
have a footfall of several thousand.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2013
 
Description Numerous radio interviews publicising the start up at the LHC. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A number of interviews on national radio stations.

Describing to many members of the general public, the importance of the experiments at CERN and the LHC start up.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
 
Description On going meetings with journalists 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Heightening awareness of particle physics work at the LHC to Geneva based journalists. This was arranged by the press office at CERN.

Subsequent interview requests.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2006,2007,2008,2009,2010
 
Description Open day to engage children/adults in physics and maths. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Exceptionally well attended annual event. The HEP group creates posters, demonstrations, film, discussions and posters about "public level" High Energy Physics.

Creates genuine interest and basic understanding in fundamental physics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2007,2008,2009,2010,2011
 
Description Overall organisation of the Open day. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Effective outcome and response by members of the general public to the HEP related information/demonstrations/activities. Attendance to the Faculty Open day is in the region of 2,000 people.

Creates genuine interest and basic understanding in fundamental physics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2007,2008,2009,2010,2011
 
Description Panel discussion at Duke of York Theatre in London on quantum physics 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Had a panel discussion after a showing of the `Constellations' play about many worlds quantum theory.


Answered questions from the audience
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description Particle Hunting at CERN. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact 100 approx primarily school children attend a general level talk about the LHC and the work carried out at CERN.

Promoted interest in maths, physics and general science to school age children.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
 
Description Royal Institution Masterclass 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact a Royal Institution
Masterclass on "Phase Transitions" to a group of year 8 pupils.

N/A
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description Royal Society summer science exhibition committee 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Workshop Facilitator
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Many thousands of members of the public come to the event, which lasts for a week

NA
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2011,2012,2013
 
Description Science at Music Festivals 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact STFC grant, offering theoretical physics as an alternative
mind altering experience to a new generation. Thousands of people attend it every year

NA
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2012,2013
 
Description Science specific BBC radio show. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Popular science radio show interview given to widespread audience.

Furthering public understanding of particle physics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2007
 
Description Scientific American 
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 Readership of Millions

Interaction with general public.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description TV programme on a beginners guide to The Cosmos. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact TV programme aired on the BBC so a widespread audience.

Greater level of public understanding.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2007
 
Description Talk at a local influential technical company. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Talk given at a Cambridge company who are a world leader in semiconductor intellectual property (IP) supply and as such is at the heart of the development of digital electronic products.

This specific lecturer was approached by this company to talk about "Dark Matter and the LHC.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2009
 
Description Talks at public outreach conferences 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact talks at Google SciFoo, at the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition and
the Southbank centre annual music festival and TEDex conference in Hungary about theoretical physics and the LHC

some of the talks are filmed and put on the web
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012,2013
 
Description The Guardian Open Weekend LHC talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 200 members of the public came and listened to a talk on theoretical physics

N.A
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
 
Description The beauty of the Dirac Equation, public talk. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Well attended public talk at the Science Museum including a Q and A.

Fostered further interest in the importance of Dirac's work on Quantum Mechanics.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2008
 
Description Today BBC Radio 4 interview on maths 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Type Of Presentation Keynote/Invited Speaker
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact listeners internationally on internet and nationally over radio waves at the time

podcast available on internet
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012