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Alex Millar

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Alex Millar

I am currently a PhD student at the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich, having done a Masters at the University of Melbourne. I am one of those lucky people who discovers what they want to do early in life; I have always wanted to be a scientist and, since the fifth grade, a physicist. It is the why and how that always drew my attention, and theoretical particle physics is the closest we get to answering those questions. For me cosmology gives the most vivid description of reality – research is like playing with a box of toy universes.

My masters thesis looked at theories which try to combine two of the most fundamental questions we can ask: what is the universe made of, and how did this stuff come to exist? While we have a very good understanding of the material that makes up you and me, this “visible” matter only makes up 5% of the universe. The other 95% is made of dark energy (70%) and dark matter (25%). We also don’t know where the visible matter came from – the Standard Model of particle physics predicts an almost empty universe. I looked at asymmetric dark matter models, which try to relate dark and normal matter. You can learn more in my first post.

So why blog?

There is a marvellous world around us – much vaster in scale than humans can visualise. Understanding the symmetric and beautiful pattern to our world is my driving force. It is one of the great shames of our society that only a tiny percentage of our population knows about this hidden world. Ignorance of the basics of quantum mechanics and thermodynamics should be as foreign a concept as ignorance of Shakespeare. Unfortunately in our culture it is possible to be considered well educated with no knowledge of the physical or mathematical sciences. The natural world and its deeper structure are as beautiful and intellectually engaging as the literary arts. Because these subjects are perceived as difficult or arcane or, even worse, boring students who would otherwise be able to gain great insights are denied this privilege.

I decided to start blogging to help get some of these ideas out, and also share some of my experiences as a young, and hopefully career, physicist.