Theoretical physics

News involving the Rudolf Peierls Centre for Theoretical Physics

15 December 2016

Robust defence of string theory wins Physics World's 2016 Book of the Year

Physics World's choice for the 2016 Book of the Year is Why String Theory? by Joseph Conlon.

Abstract, mathematically complex and (so far) unsupported by direct experimental evidence, string theory attracts plenty of criticism. Yet it remains an incredibly active area of research, with thousands of physicists and mathematicians around the world working on strings and related ideas. The reasons for its continued popularity are eloquently presented in Joseph Conlon's book Why String Theory?

Talk for Prospective DPhil Students

30 Nov 2016 - 3:30pm - 5:00pm
Denys Wilkinson Building, Department of Physics, University of Oxford, Keble Road, Oxford OX1 3RH

Talk for Prospective DPhil Students will take place on Wednesday 30th November 2016 at 3.30pm in the Dennis Sciama Lecture Theatre the talks will be followed by a drinks reception in the Denys Wilkinson Building Common Room.

The talks will be given by:

Professor Daniela Bortoletto
Director of Graduate Studies for Particle Physics

Professor Subir Sarkar
Head, Particle Theory Group

Professor Andrei Seryi
John Adams Institute for Accelerator Science

25 October 2016

Physics Colloquium Nov 11: Professor Jon Rosner (Chicago), 'Exotic combinations of quarks - A journey of fifty years'

The early 1960s witnessed a wealth of elementary particles described in terms of simple combinations of a few more elementary units, dubbed quarks. The known mesons and baryons could all be described as states of quark-antiquark or three quarks. However, it was not understood why certain more elaborate combinations, such as (two quarks + two antiquarks) or (four quarks + one antiquark) had not been observed. It has taken nearly half a century, but these "exotic" particles are now beginning to be seen and understood.

25 October 2016

Physics Colloquia Series Presents: Astro Special - Dr Jamie Holder,University of Delaware, presents 'Astronomy at the Highest Energies: Exploring the Extreme Universe with Gamma Rays'

The gamma-ray band of the electromagnetic spectrum probes some of the most extreme environments in the Universe. Photons of these very-high energies can only be produced by the interactions of subatomic particles that have been accelerated to almost the speed of light. This acceleration occurs in a surprisingly wide variety of astrophysical sources: close to black holes and neutron stars, in the blast waves of supernova explosions, and in the relativistic jets of active galaxies.

25 October 2016

Physics Colloquia Series Presents: Dr. Trevor Cross,Group Chief Technology Officer, e2v, entitled '60 years of imaging technology'

From the earliest commercial production of electronic image sensors for television in the 1950s, to the diverse application of specialist silicon image sensors for the Hubble space Telescope to digital dentistry this talk will outline the manufacturing technology and changes through 60 years at e2v. Somewhat surprisingly, there are today lessons to be learned, and technologies to be applied from this to the emerging new platform technology of ultra-cold atom sensing and metrology.

25 October 2016

Physics Colloquia Series Presents: Dr Cait McPhee, University of Edinburgh, entitled 'Proteins as switchable Janus ellipsoids'

Janus particles are micro- or nano-scale particles whose surfaces have two or more distinct physical properties. Such asymmetry results in interesting self-assembly properties, but homogeneous Janus particles can be difficult to synthesize. The protein BslA (Bacterial Surface Layer A) is a small (~4 nm) protein produced by the bacterium Bacillus subtilis that has a hydrophilic ‘body’ to which is appended a surface-exposed hydrophobic ‘cap’.

25 October 2016

Physics Colloquia Series Presents: Professor Séamus Davis, Cornell University, entitled 'Visualizing Quantum Matter'

Everything around us, everything each of us has ever experienced, and virtually everything underpinning our technological society and economy is governed by quantum mechanics. Yet this most fundamental physical theory of nature often feels as if it is a set of somewhat eerie and counterintuitive ideas of no direct relevance to our lives. Why is this?

One reason is that we cannot perceive the strangeness (and astonishing beauty) of the quantum mechanical phenomena all around us by using our own senses.

25 October 2016

Physics Colloquia Series Presents: LIGO Special by Professor Gabriela Gonzalez entitled 'Searching for - and finding! Gravitational Waves'

On September 14 2015, the two LIGO gravitational wave detectors in Hanford, Washington and Livingston, Louisiana registered a nearly simultaneous signal with time-frequency properties consistent with gravitational-wave emission by the merger of two massive compact objects. Further analysis of the signals by the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and the Virgo Collaboration revealed that the gravitational waves detected by LIGO came from the merger of a binary black hole system. This observation, followed by another one in December 2015, marked the beginning of gravitational wave astronomy.

4 October 2016

Oxford alumnus shares Nobel Prize in Physics 2016

Michael Kosterlitz, who carried out his DPhil at Brasenose College between 1966 and 1969, was today named a Nobel Laureate for his pioneering work to help reveal the secrets of exotic phases of matter that were hitherto unknown.
Professor Kosterlitz, now of Brown University in the US, shared half the prize with Professor Duncan Haldane of Princeton University, USA, with the other half going to Professor David Thouless of the University of Washington, USA.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awards the Nobel Prize in Physics, cited the three scientists' 'theoretical discoveries of

6 June 2016

Supersymmetry squeezed at the high-energy frontier

First year Oxford graduate student Jesse Liu has just released a paper showing how the increase in LHC energy from 8 to 13 TeV has squeezed the permissible models of the theory of supersymmetry.

Supersymmetric theories predicts particles that could help explain the mysterious dark matter in our universe, and which can be produced at the LHC, so they are well worth pursuing.