Theoretical Physics  From Outer Space to Plasma Oxford University

 Courses
Members of the Rudolf Peierls Centre for Theoretical Physics host a morning of Theoretical Physics roughly three times a year on a Saturday morning. The mornings consist of three talks pitched to explain an area of our research to an audience familiar with physics at about the secondyear undergraduate level and are open to all Oxford Alumni. Topics include Quantum Mechanics, Black Holes, Dark Matter, Plasma, Particle Accelerators and The Large Hadron Collider.

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Cosmic acceleration revealed by Type la supernovae?
In this talk Subir Sarkar will explain how deflagration supernovae have been used to infer that the Hubble expansion rate is accelerating, and critically assess whether the acceleration is real and due to `dark energy’.

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Supernova Explosions and their Role in the Universe
In this talk, Philipp Podsiadlowski will explain how this energy (sometimes) creates a visible fireball, before going on to explain the role of supernovae in the production of the heaviest elements in the periodic table.

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What makes stars go bang?
In this talk, James Binney will outline the physics that leads to prodigeous release of energy in corecollapse and deflagration supernovae.

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... from collisions to the Higgs boson
To study the Higgs boson at the LHC we also need to understand how highly energetic quarks and gluons interact, among themselves and with the Higgs. These interactions are described by quantum field theory, a beautiful mathematical framework that combines quantum mechanics with Einstein’s theory of special relativity. In recent years, our understanding of quantum field theory has progressed significantly, allowing us to develop a new generation of accurate theoretical predictions for key LHC reactions. In this talk, I will highlight some of the ideas behind this progress, and illustrate how they are being applied to investigate the Higgs sector at the LHC.

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From protons to collisions…
We learn about the Higgs Boson and its interactions at the LHC by examining the debris produced by colliding protons headon at unprecedented high energies. However, we know from our theory of strong interactions  quantum chromodynamics (QCD)  that protons themselves are highly complex bound states of more fundamental 'quarks', held together by the force carriers of QCD, the 'gluons'. The question is then: how do we go from the collision of these complicated protons to a theoretical prediction that we can use to test the properties of the Higgs boson itself? In this talk, I will discuss what we know about the proton, and how we apply this to LHC collisions and our understanding of the Higgs sector.

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What the Large Hadron Collider is telling us about the Higgs sector and its new interactions
Over the past two years, CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has started to directly probe a qualitatively new class of interactions, associated with the Higgs boson. These interactions, called Yukawa interactions, are unlike any other interaction that we have probed at the quantum level before.
In particular, unlike the electromagnetic, weak and strong forces, they have an interaction strength that does not come in multiples of some underlying unit charge. Yukawa interactions are believed to be of fundamental importance to the world as we know it, hypothesised, for example, to be responsible for the stability of the proton, and so the universe and life as we know it.