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A deeper look at Particle Physics

School on Particle Physics in the LHC ERA at ICTP to introduce students to latest developments

The field of particle physics is in a "dramatic phase", says Dr. Alexei Smirnov from ICTP’s High Energy, Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics section (HECAP). And to introduce students to the latest developments in the field he, along with HECAP’s Dr. Goran Senjanovic and Dr. Bobby Acharya, is organising a summer school on 'Particle Physics in the LHC ERA' that will start on 15 June 2009.  Dr. Gino Isidori (INFN, Frascati) and Dr. Georgi Dvali (New York University) are also involved as workshop organisers.

"Science cannot be learnt from just textbooks," says Dr. Smirnov. "Experts who are substantially contributing to the field will be conducting lectures at the school. The basic idea is to get students interested and provide them with ideas for their future research topics," he adds. 

Among the experts who will be at the school is Dr. Cumrun Vafa of Harvard University, a recipient of the 2008 Dirac Medal.

The school will address topics related to the forthcoming results from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN and will include courses on the Higgs Boson, electroweak symmetry breaking, super symmetry, physics of extra dimensions, astroparticle physics and neutrino physics. 

"The topic of the Higgs Boson will be one of the major events of the school, and two courses will be dedicated to it," says Dr. Smirnov. The Higgs Boson (or Bosons) is believed to impart the mass to all known particles in the universe. The experimental detection of the Higgs Boson, it is thought, will help explain the origin of mass in the universe. But, as Dr. Smirnov points out, "we don’t even know how many Higgs particles exist.”

He expects that the courses will address questions on the properties of Higgs particles and their manifestations depending on the theory used. 

“The Higgs Boson particle is the last undiscovered particle of the Standard Model. But we now know that this theory does not address many parts of particle physics satisfactorily, for example, the discovery of neutrino mass,” he explains. According to the Standard Model neutrinos have no mass; now however, experimental evidence has shown the contrary—neutrinos do have mass. 

The courses will therefore help students to look at Beyond the Standard Model theory. "We have to look at what physics lies behind the neutrino masses," says Dr. Smirnov. "Some lectures will touch upon questions about neutrino fluxes from the sun and detection of high energy cosmic neutrino fluxes.  With this [cosmic neutrino fluxes], I think we will be looking through a new window to understanding the universe," he says.


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