Five New Hires for Quantum Mathematics and Physics

The Physics department has hired four new faculty and Math has hired one new faculty, all in the areas of quantum field theory, gravity, and strings. Veronika Hubeny and Mukund Rangamani arrived in the Physics department this September, Jaroslav Trnka will arrive in December, and Sergei Dubovsky and will begin July 2016. Tudor Dimofte will join the Math department in 2016. All the positions are part of campus Hiring Investment Program. The new hires and the current high-energy and cosmology faculty will be working together to start a new center called “The Center for Quantum Mathematics and Physics,” or QMAP for short. To kick things off, all five new faculty members were in Davis to give talks on their research on October 29-30, and met with Dean Navrotsky and Provost Hexter at an informal reception.

QMAP reception 2015-10-29

QMAP reception 2015-10-29

UC Davis to hire four professors in theoretical physics and mathematics

UC Davis Provost Ralph Hexter has announced that the Faculty Hiring Investment Program (HIP) has accepted a joint proposal from the Physics and Math departments, called “Fundamental Physics and Mathematics of the Universe”, which will entail hiring four professors in theoretical physics and mathematics. The positions will be in both the physics and math departments. Click here for more information.

Special showing of the film Particle Fever, Fri. April 25

A new film about the discovery of the Higgs Boson, followed by an audience Q&A.

particle fever

From the Particle Fever website:

Imagine being able to watch as Edison turned on the first light bulb, or as Franklin received his first jolt of electricity.

For the first time, a film gives audiences a front row seat to a significant and inspiring scientific breakthrough as it happens. Particle Fever follows six brilliant scientists during the launch of the Large Hadron Collider, marking the start-up of the biggest and most expensive experiment in the history of the planet, pushing the edge of human innovation.

As they seek to unravel the mysteries of the universe, 10,000 scientists from over 100 countries joined forces in pursuit of a single goal: to recreate conditions that existed just moments after the Big Bang and find the Higgs boson, potentially explaining the origin of all matter. But our heroes confront an even bigger challenge: have we reached our limit in understanding why we exist?

Directed by Mark Levinson, a physicist turned filmmaker, and masterfully edited by Walter Murch (Apocalypse Now, The English Patient), Particle Fever is a celebration of discovery, revealing the very human stories behind this epic machine.

Public Lecture: LHC the Big Bang Machine

Albert De Roeck will give a public lecture entitled
“The Large Hadron Collider: The Big Bang Machine” on Thur. Mar. 27 at 8 pm in the UC Davis Welcome Center Presentation Room. Tickets will be $7 (free for students).

Albert De Roeck

Albert De Roeck

Prof. Dr. Albert De Roeck is a senior research scientist and staff member of the largest particle physics laboratory in the world, CERN, located near Geneva, Switzerland. De Roeck is also a professor at the University of Antwerp (Belgium) and a visiting professor at the Institute of Particle Physics and Phenomenology in Durham (UK) , University of California Davis, and the British University in Cairo (Egypt).

more info

Nobel Prize for Higgs Mechanism

This year’s Nobel Prize for physics went to François Englert and Peter W. Higgs “for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.” It was a long time coming, but now with the Higgs boson in hand the work begins to find out exactly what type of Higgs boson it is and if any of its properties suggest the existence of other new particles or even new principles of Nature.

Francois Englert Francois Englert

Peter Higgs Peter Higgs

Nobel Prize winner Gerardus `t Hooft will give a special lecture on “The Higgs Particle.”


Prof. Gerardus `t Hooft

The talk will be held on Thursday Sept. 5, 2013 at 7:30 pm in the UC Davis Medical Education Building at 4610 X Street in Sacramento.

Professor `t Hooft desribes the talk as follows:

Our theoretical understanding of the sub-atomic world would not be complete without the Higgs particle. Sometimes called “The God Particle”, this very special particle generates the differences between the fundamental particles and it gives them mass, but until recently it went undetected. Of course, in science we use different words. In this lecture it is explained what this mysterious object really is and why it is needed in our theories, even if it has little to do with God. Using the most powerful particle accelerator in the world, the Large Hadron Collider, physicists for the first time have the tools to produce and observe this particle in detail. Is it as it was predicted? Are there whole families of Higgs particles? The LHC has not yet reached its full power. Will it provide us with more clues or mysteries about the sub-atomic world?

more info

Sean Carroll: “The Origin of the Universe and the Arrow of Time

Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll will give a lecture on “The Origin of the Universe and the Arrow of Time” on Wed., May 22 7:30 pm, at the UC Davis Conference Center.

One of the most obvious facts about the universe is that the past is different from the future. We can remember yesterday, but not tomorrow; we can turn an egg into an omelet, but can’t turn an omelet into an egg. That’s the arrow of time, which is consistent throughout the observable universe. The arrow can be explained by assuming that the very early universe was extremely orderly, and disorder has been increasing ever since. But why did the universe start out so orderly? I will talk about the nature of time, the origin of entropy, and how what happened before the Big Bang may be responsible for the arrow of time we observe today. Advance tickets available.

Higgs Discovery Update

An update on the Higgs-like resonance discovered last summer was given by the ATLAS experiment on Dec. 13, indicating that the decay to two photons is about 2 standard deviations off of the standard model value, which may indicate that there are additional new particles within reach of the Large Hadron Collider.

The largest discrepancy is in the Higgs-like boson decaying to two photons (H → γ γ).

Discovery of a Higgs-like boson

On July 4, CMS and ATLAS announced the discovery of a Higgs-like resonance. An unstable boson quickly turns into other more stable particles, in this case the clearest signal shows up in the boson decaying to two photons or four charged particles like electrons, muons, and their antiparticles. The two experiments saw a characteristic enhancement (a.k.a. a resonance or “bump”) in both of these types of decays.

An single event in the detector that may have been the two photons resulting from decay of the resonance.

The boson shows upas a bump the distribution of two photon decays.