Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students

Frontiers in Theoretical Physics and Cosmology

PHYSICS 18N

Today, we have very successful Standard Models of elementary particle physics and cosmology. They explain the structure of matter at sub-nuclear distances; the behavior of the universe at the largest observed cosmological scales in excess of 1,028 centimeters; and a plethora of phenomena at intermediate sizes. They rest on the pillars of quantum mechanics and Einstein's theory of gravity, general relativity. Yet this description is seriously incomplete. Deep puzzles remain about how a universe as large and old as ours is consistent with our understanding of quantum mechanics and gravity. Subtle paradoxes arise in the quantum mechanics of black holes, and our best current ideas suggest that physics at the very largest cosmological scales may look quite different from what we see around us. The purpose of this course will be to briefly introduce the current Standard Models, and then focus on some of the main frontiers of modern theoretical physics through explorations of very early universe cosmology, string theory, and the physics of black holes. 

 

Meet the Instructor(s)

Savas Dimopoulos

Savas Dimopoulos, a professor of physics, received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, and joined the Stanford faculty in 1979. He is the winner of the 2006 Sakurai Prize of the American Physical Society, and the winner of the 2006 Tomassoni Award in Theoretical Physics. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He proposed the Supersymmetric Standard Model and the Large Dimension Framework, both soon to be tested experimentally.