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Anadi Canepa | TRIUMF | Canada

View Blog | Read Bio

Experimentalists and theorists meet

High energy proton collisions are finally expected this Fall at the world’s largest particle accelerator, the LHC.
Our community is eager to start exploring the data produced at the energy frontier.

What will data tell us ? What secrets will it unveil ? Why do we expect new physics, new phenomena, new particles at the energy scale of
the LHC operation ? One compelling argument is the following. The Standard Model does not explain the scattering of W bosons at large energies. To prevent the probability of that process from exceeding 100%, new particles must exist with mass of roughly 100 GeV (100  times the mass of the proton). If Dark Matter is composed of slow moving, heavy, neutral particles, their mass should be of order of 100 GeV as well to explain the current abundance. These and many other experimental and theoretical facts convince us that New Physics will manifest itself at the LHC.

Which theory will provide complete description of Nature?

And several are the theory of New Physics that have been proposed in the past decades. Not all possible theories are viable, though. The current experiments constrain the modeling and the mathematical framework built so far (tested to 0.1% precision in some cases!) needs to be fulfilled. At the same time, the creativity of physicist who broke barriers of knowledge using imagination and evidence, is still alive. Other bloggers mentioned the funniest names for experiments. How about the ones for new theories ? Two are the most popular visions of New Phenomena, one is Extra-dimensions and the other one is SUSY (nick name for SUperSYmmetry). And lately theorists proposed Hidden Valley, Little Higgs, Quirks etc!

The math behind it is fascinating, each model is able to explain phenomena the Standard Model fails to account for. However, from experimental point of view, their signatures can be strikingly similar. Once a discovery is made, in that a signal  is observed at the LHC, it will take  decades – if not another type of accelerator – to identify the model and solve the puzzle. The strategy will be to progress step by step, proposing new models and testing their validity. This process requires experimentalists who know how to operate the detector and to carry out a data analysis, and theorists capable of providing feed back and ready to  modify their models according to what data indicate. See this blog about experimentalists versus theorists! http://public.web.cern.ch/public/en/People/Experimentalists-en.html

It will be an intense process of interaction between the two communities. To improve the efficiency of our interactions conference and workshops are organized all around the world. Few are major conferences where the experiments present their latest results, but most are minor conference or workshops intended as a work table for physicists attending them. Very informal and oriented to maximize the information exchange, the conferences are usually several day long, with plenary and parallel sessions. Minor conferences can host less than 100 physicists, while major ones can register several hundreds!

lhc-workshoppreview
Recently there has been a push towards combining theory and experimental workshops to start building open discussions and cooperation between the two communities which is needed and crucial for our understanding of Nature. A good example was a workshop held a TRIUMF at  the beginning of the month, which I had the pleasure to attend (this was a very good opportunity for me to spend time at my own institution).

It was a very sunny week in Vancouver!

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