Wednesday, October 19, 2011, 4:00 pm — Berkner Hall Auditorium
Fundamental physics started the 20th century with the twin
revolutions of relativity and quantum mechanics, and much of the second half of the century was devoted to the construction of a theoretical structure unifying these radical ideas, which has been confirmed to exquisite precision by experiments over the past three
decades. But these foundations have also led us to a number of precipices in our understanding of Nature. The union of quantum mechanics and gravity strongly suggests that space-time is doomed--what replaces it? Furthermore the unification of relativity and quantum mechanics predicts violent short-distance quantum fluctuations that make existence of a macroscopic world wildly implausible, and yet we comfortably live in a huge universe--what
tames these violent quantum fluctuations, and why is there a macroscopic universe? These are some of the central theoretical challenges of fundamental physics in the 21st century. It is very exciting that a spectacular new experiment--the Large Hadron Collider--is now running and poised to shed significant light on at least some of these mysteries. In this talk I will describe these ideas, and discuss what we can expect to know by 2020.
Hosted by: Peter Wanderer
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