The Real Power of Virtual Particles
Dr Jonas Rademacker (Physics, Bristol)
Frank Lecture Theatre H H Wills Physics Laboratory, Tyndall Avenue, Bristol BS8 1TL
Virtual particles, objects somewhere between existence and non-existence, play a profound role in modern particle physics. They affect the interactions between objects that are much lighter than themselves and can therefore be discovered even if their mass is far too big to be produced in colliders using E=mc^2. This approach has had a profound impact on the development of the Standard Model of Particle Physics and is likely to play in equally important part in breaking it - beyond the Standard Model particles are expected to be very heavy. Breaking the Standard Model, the aim of most particle physicists today, would be the first step towards revealing what might lie beyond, hopefully leading towards an explanation of unsolved puzzles such as the origin the baryon asymmetry of the universe, and the nature of dark matter. In this Colloquium, after a brief introduction to the topic, I will present recent mesurements from the LHCb experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, many of which result from the effort of Bristol physicists & engineers. LHCb's vast data samples allow precision measurements of particle decays with unprecedented sensitivity to the effects of virtual particles. The latest results suggest that we might indeed be about to break the Standard Model with virtual particles.
Colloquium enquiries to Michael Berry (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Robert Evans