Lattice Gauge Theory
Photograph by Despina Chatzifotiadou, March 30, 2010) Particle tracks fly out from one of the first collisions at 7 TeV (seven trillion electronvolts) at the Large Hadron Collider.
The Physics Department at Pacific has developed a focus area in Lattice Gauge Theory. This is a branch of particle physics in which the mathematics of the quantum nature of subatomic particles is formulated in a way that enables the equations to be solved by computers. It involves various areas of knowledge, including:
- Quantum field theory (relativistic quantum mechanics)
- Very sophisticated mathematics—both abstract areas such as topology and fiber bundles, as well as applied methods such as linear algebra and numerical analysis.
- Computer science—researchers in this field use some of the largest and fastest computers in the world.
Professors Juge, Holland, and Hetrick have been awarded two large 3-year grants from the National Science Foundation to carry out investigations in lattice gauge theory. Among other things, this grant has provided the department with its small parallel computer for high performance computing:
- This machine has 9 compute nodes with 8 IBM Xeon cores each for a total of 72 compute CPU cores.
- Program execution on the machine is coordinated by the master node with CPU 4 cores and 3 terabytes of disk space.
You can find out more about Pacific's lattice gauge theorists from this article.
Research in Quantum Gravity
Professor Birmingham is a high energy physics theorist with interests in black hole physics, topological field theories, quantum gravity and string theory. His recent work has been elucidating the response of quantum fields near a black hole under a perturbation (a kick to the black hole).
If your interests are in these areas, we can offer undergraduate research opportunities. Such hands-on learning is exciting and challenging, and motivates students to pursue lifelong learning. Undergraduate research opportunities such as these prepare serious students for very successful Ph.D. programs.