Neils Colloquia on Innovative Science (NCIS)

Friday, April 19, at 3:30 PM in NSC 234. Join us for refreshments in the lobby beforehand.

"Searching for a New Kind of Light"

Dr. Ross Corliss (VU `05), Dept. of Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

With the discovery of the Higgs Boson at the LHC, every particle needed in the Standard Model (SM) of particle physics has been experimentally confirmed.  We know, however, that this cannot be the end of the story. I will discuss the DarkLight experiment, which will hunt for a particle needed for other reasons.  Although the SM has been remarkably successful in predicting a wide range of experimental results, it has some notable failings.  SM predictions of the behavior of electrons have been verified to an incredibly high precision, but some measurements for the muon (the heavier sibling of the electron) differ significantly.  More glaringly, from astrophysics we have learned that all the particles in the SM account for only a tiny fraction of the total amount of matter and energy in the universe. The rest, termed dark matter and dark energy, interacts with the visible universe only weakly.  One way to resolve the muon discrepancy is to introduce a new particle, A', a heavier and more weakly interacting cousin to the photon.  Such a particle would also be a good candidate for a force carrier for dark matter.  Using the intense electron beam at Jefferson Lab, the DarkLight experiment will hunt for this beyond-the-standard-model particle.  I'll talk about the experiment's design, and how this small detector's measurement fits into the ongoing search for phenomena outside of the standard model.