Writing the Rules of the Universe
BY BRYAN TRUDE
10 FEB 2017
Research at CERN has led to some of the largest and most significant discoveries in particle physics in human history, expanding mankind's understanding of space and time. In Stillwater, a team of Oklahoma State University scientists and students help push humanity's knowledge of reality forward.
Joseph Haley, assistant professor of physics, serves as the point man for a team of OSU faculty, students and postdoc researchers working with scientists and institutions from around the world on the ATLAS Experiment.
Short for "A Toroidal LHC Apparatus," ATLAS is an experiment aimed at utilizing the energy output available from the Large Hadron Collider to observe phenomena not previously observable through lower-energy colliders. The goal is to illuminate theories of particle physics beyond the "Standard Model," a formulation developed in the mid-1970s that attempts to explain how matter behaves at the subatomic level.
"The basic idea is that it boils down to Einstein's Theory of Relativity," Haley says. "It works well, but we know it has problems. … It explains almost every measurement we've done, it's the best tested theory in history, but if we use it to calculate what should happen at higher energies, certain calculations give nonsense answers, such as probabilities greater than 100 percent."
As matter approaches the speed of light, Haley says, Newtonian mechanics begins to break down, so Einstein's Theory of Spatial Relativity is used to predict how matter will behave at near-light speeds. The Standard Model serves a similar function in particle physics, allowing scientists to say how particles will behave at certain energy levels. As interactions begin to take place at higher and higher energy levels, however, the Standard Model begins to no longer fit, so a new theory is needed.
ATLAS was created to help discover that theory.
Along with Flera Rizatdinova and Alexander Khanov, Haley leads a small team of assistants and scientists searching for new particles created in the collisions produced at CERN by the LHC facility. Members of the group work both on-site at CERN and from facilities in Stillwater.
The complete article appears in OSU Research Matters 2017 and is also available in PDF form at Writing the Rules of the Universe
2016-17 Niblack Research Scholar Charith DeSilva
30 JAN 2017
Graduate Program Application Announcement
27 Jan 2017
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Professor Babu named Distinguished Scholar by Fermilab
20 Feb 2017
Dr. Kaladi Babu, interim head of the Department of Physics at Oklahoma State University, has been named a distinguished scholar by the country's largest and most prominent particle physics laboratories.
Babu is one of three theoretical physicists named as a 2017 Distinguished Scholar by the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, or Fermilab, the largest particle accelerator facility in the U.S.
"I am thrilled about being recognized as a Fermilab Distinguished Scholar and the opportunity it provides to engage in research on the national scene at Fermilab," said Babu, a Regents Professor of Physics at OSU.
The two-year appointment gives Babu an affiliation with Fermilab, along with the same research opportunities and support afforded its own scientists. It is the second year for the program, launched by Fermilab in 2016 with the selection of four scientists at U.S. universities.
In addition to spending at least four weeks a year at Fermilab's facility in Illinois, Babu will be able to bring two students or postdocs to work alongside some of the brightest minds in theoretical particle physics.
"This will enable my group to showcase its research done here at OSU, and also help initiate research collaborations with renowned scientists," said Babu. "More significantly, it will provide my students a great opportunity to spend time at Fermilab and be exposed to research at the highest level. I am especially thrilled about exploring new ideas in neutrino physics, where Fermilab is set to be the world leader, and where I have some expertise."
Also named as 2017 distinguished scholars are Dr. Kaustubh Agashe, University of Maryland; and Dr. John Beacom, Ohio State University.
Fermilab was founded in 1967 on the site of the former town of Weston, Ill., near the community of Batavia. Named in honor of Enrico Fermi, the Italian physicist who created the first nuclear reactor, Fermilab is currently directed by Nigel Lockyer.
"A major goal of the program is to strengthen connections between the Fermilab Theoretical Physics and Astrophysics groups and the wider U.S. particle-theory community," said Lockyer in a release. "It also aims to increase resident theoretical expertise in targeted physics areas to support the Fermilab experimental program."