Particles and the Nature of Nothing
I will give a crash course on particle physics, collider experiments, and quantum field theory. I will show that on the cutting edge of particle physics is the search for the description of the vacuum of spacetime and the nature of the laws of physics. Particle colliders are one of a handful of ways to explore these laws, and the worlds largest, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) outside of Geneva, Switzerland, will have collected unprecedented amounts of data by the time of this lecture, revealing answers — and undoubtedly bigger questions — about the nature of reality. The previous run of the LHC revealed the Higgs Boson particle. I will explain its significance, its impact on the field, and the justification for featuring it in a documentary film. I will also tell a joke that, at best, physicists will find amusing.
About the Speaker
David Kaplan is a theoretical particle physicist and professor at Johns Hopkins University. He received is A.B. at UC Berkeley and his PhD and the University of Washington. Before Hopkins, he held postdoctoral positions at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, the Argonne National Lab, and the University of Chicago. Early in his career, he was named a Outstanding Junior Investigator by the Department of Energy, and later a Fellow of the Sloan Foundation, the Kavli Foundation, and the American Physical Society.
David also created and produced Particle Fever, a documentary film about the Large Hadron Collider for which he was nominated for Best Producer by the Producer's Guild of America, and won a duPont Journalism Award, among other accolades. In addition, he has hosted science programs for the History Channel and National Geographic, and online videos for Quanta Magazine. He strongly recommends not being a filmmaker and physicist simultaneously, but continues to ignore his own advice.