- Research Areas
- Affiliated Labs and Centers
- Pappalardo Fellowships in Physics
Theoretical Nuclear and Particle Physics
The division of Theoretical Nuclear and Particle Physics has its home in the Center for Theoretical Physics in the new Green Center. Here theoretical physicists work on many aspects of particle and nuclear physics as well as on quantum computing. The efforts in particle physics go from exploring physics at the energy scales being probed by the Large Hadron Collider to much higher energies where string theory may give a picture of how gravity is united with the other forces. The nuclear and particle physicists in the Center are interested in understanding both what will happen when protons are collided at the LHC as well as the droplets of quark-gluon plasma made in collisions of heavy nuclei. Particle physics is a key component of our understanding of the early universe and physicists in the Center for Theoretical Physics work on the inflationary universe and other areas of cosmology. At lower energies, physicists are attempting to understand the nature of the strong interactions which is the force that holds the proton together. Here pencil and paper calculations aided by massive numerical calculations are used to gain insight into the workings of the strong force.
Physicists in the Center work beyond the usual boundaries of particle and nuclear physics. String theorists are exploring connections with condensed matter physics. Particle physicists are using ideas from topology to understand recently discovered materials. Quantum field theory techniques are being used to calculate forces caused by fluctuations in the vacuum. Ideas from physics are being used to design algorithms that would be run on quantum computers which, if ever built, would have power way beyond that of conventional computers. The division of Theoretical Nuclear and Particle Physics stays at the cutting edge.