Look for the catalog of 2020-21IntroSems to roll out here on August 1st.
Introductory Seminars for First-Year Students
Frontiers in Theoretical Physics and Cosmology
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.