CoEPP brings together experimentalists, as part of the ATLAS collaboration, and theorists to focus on the expected era of discovery that the Large Hadron Collider will provide.
The Centre was a major sponsor and organiser of ICHEP2012, the international physics conference where CERN announced its Higgs boson discovery via two-way webcast with Melbourne.
Our international partners work closely with our chief investigators and hail from some of the world’s leading universities.
Our research programme includes:
- Searching for supersymmetry (SUSY)
- Searching for evidence of extra dimensions, and other exotic phenomena at the Terascale
- Searching for the origin of dark matter
- Searching for unknown forces of nature at the Terascale
- New computing techniques for LHC / ATLAS data analysis
- Being prepared for the unexpected
The broad questions we seek to answer
Our current understanding of matter and forces, at the fundamental level, is contained in the Standard Model (SM) of particle physics. The fundamental matter and force particles form a “Periodic Table” of the building blocks of the Universe. These observed patterns or symmetries have been key to the SM and many of its properties. However, the symmetries are not perfect. Some particles, such as the photon, are massless, while others, such as the electron, are massive. Particle masses vary over many orders of magnitude. A key goal of the Centre will be to discover the origin of mass and the symmetry breaking that generates this variety of masses for the elementary particles. The simplest of these, the Higgs mechanism, demands the existence of the now famous Higgs boson.
Through their involvement in the giant ATLAS experiment at the LHC, the Centre’s researchers will search for the Higgs boson and for answers to many other profound questions. We will probe important extensions to the SM, including new symmetries such as supersymmetry (“SUSY”) and the existence of extra dimensions of space-time. This involves both gathering the data from ATLAS and interpreting that information in light of our current theories.
In parallel to the SM, a “standard model” of cosmology has emerged, leading to the astounding conclusion that only 4-5% of the Universe is made of the “normal” matter so well described by the SM. Approximately 23% of the Universe is made of “dark matter”, which interacts via gravity, but otherwise remains unknown to us; even stranger is the remaining 72% that results in the accelerating expansion of the universe - dark energy. A feature of extensions to the SM such as SUSY is the prediction of dark matter particles at the terascale that would be discoverable at the LHC. Our research program will draw together the SM and the new standard model of cosmology, leading to a genuine understanding of the nature of dark matter.
The main questions at the frontiers of particle physics can be summarised as follows:
- What is dark matter and dark energy?
- How is gravity incorporated into the Standard Model? Can all the particles and interactions be described by a single Grand Unified Theory?
- How do quarks bind to form protons, neutrons, pions and other hadrons?
- How do neutrinos gain mass and why are those masses so small?
- Why is the universe filled with matter but essentially no antimatter?
With theoretical and experimental physicists working together, the answers to these questions can be answered.