Michael Duerr

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Michael Duerr

Postdoctoral Research Assistant

I joined the Particle Theory group in Autumn of 2018.

My research interest is physics beyond the Standard Model, in particular particle candidates for dark matter, baryon and lepton number violation, as well as neutrino masses.

Before coming to Oxford, I was a member of the Division for Particle and Astroparticle Physics at the Max-Planck-Institut für Kernphysik (MPIK) in Heidelberg and a fellow in the DESY Theory Group.

I will be teaching Introduction to Symmetries for (experimental) particle physics graduate students in Michaelmas '18.

Meeting location and times:
MT'18 weeks 1 to 4 (examples' class in week 7)

  • Tuesdays 12-1 (Seminar room 501 on 9 October, Conference room for all other session) -- no class on 30 October but extra class on 6 November instead (same time).
  • Thursdays 11-12 (Conference room)
  • Examples' class: Wednesday 21 November at 14:15 (Fisher room)


  • Spacetime symmetries
  • Internal symmetries (SU(2) & SU(3))
  • Local symmetries (gauge theories and spontaneous symmetry breaking)

This course of 8 lectures (plus 1 examples' class) is intended for first year graduate students in experimental Particle and Nuclear Physics. It aims to give an informal introduction to the general subject of symmetries in quantum systems, and to provide the basis for a "practical" knowledge of the most common continuous symmetry groups and their representations, as used in particle physics. The course will assume knowledge of basic non-relativistic quantum mechanics (e.g. hermitian and unitary operators, eigenvalues, constants of motion, degeneracy, spin-½ formalism), of the mathematics of vectors and matrices, and of four-vectors in Special Relativity.

Lecture notes:
We will essentially follow the notes by Ian Aitchison which are available through http://www.slac.stanford.edu/~aitchiso/ (Introduction to Symmetries).

Problem sets:

  • Set 1 (due: 19/10/18) -- translations and rotations
  • Set 2 (due: 02/11/18) -- Lorentz Group, SU(2), SU(3)
  • Set 3 (due: 13/11/18) -- Higgs mechanism

Strangeness Minus Three
This is an interesting video (BBC Horizon, click above) which aired in 1964 where Murray Gell-Mann, Yuval Ne'eman, and Richard Feynman talk about the prediction and discovery of the \Omega^- baryon (Wikipedia). Gell-Mann (and, independently, Ne'eman) predicted the existence of the \Omega^- to complete the decuplet (10) of flavour SU(3). Not only was its existence predicted, but also its mass. The experimental effort to find it was heroic. It required the analysis of ~97,000 photographic plates.