Particle Physics in the 21st Century

Particle Physics in the 21st Century

Particle Physics in the 21st Century

Savos Dimopoulos, Professor of Physics at Stanford University, discusses what the 21st century may bring to the exciting world of particle physics. The experiments at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN (CERN particle collider), along with experiments at astrophysical observatories are beginning to probe the most profound questions in physics, such as:

  • Why is gravity so weak?
  • What is the origin of mass?
  • What is the dark matter of the universe?
  • Are there new dimensions of space?
  • Can we produce black holes and strings in the lab?
  • Are there other parallel universes, each with different laws of nature?

The principle of minimalism (or Occam’s Razor) — theories should be as simple as possible — has been driving scientific theory for centuries, but it now is losing ground to the principle of plenitude. Things just are not as simple as once thought. For example, string theory’s complex extra dimensions suggests the existence of a plethora of ultra-light particles.

Savas Dimopoulos proposed the supersymmetric standard model with Howard Georgi in 1981, which has been established as the leading theory for physics beyond the standard model. He also proposed the possible existence of large new dimensions with Nima Arkani-Hamed and Gia Dvali in 1998. Most recently he put forward the theory of split supersymmetry with Nima Arkani-Hamed and, if confirmed, it will lend support to the idea that our universe and its laws are not unique and that there is an enormous variety of universes each with its own distinct physical laws.

How important does Savos Dimopoulos believe the LHC is to the world? He says it may prove or disprove the supersymmetric Standard Model. He muses it may uncover a new truth that no one ever dreamed of. “We just want to understand our universe. That’s what drives us.”

April 1, 2010

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