Six years ago, the world got astounded by the news that after a several-decade-long quest, the Higgs boson was discovered. The CERN experiments ATLAS and CMS, which detected the particle, played a key role. However, there are still numerous open questions in particle physics, possible roads to take, but also dilemmas about which of them will yield the most valuable findings. Researchers from more than 80 countries discussed the future of research and previous experiences at the ATLAS Standard Model workshop this September.
The organizer of the event is the Institute of Physics Belgrade (IPB), i.e. the ATLAS Group, and this was the first international conference since Serbia became a full CERN member.
One of the participants of the recently held workshop was Frank Krauss of the Institute for Particle Physics Phenomenology at Durham University. As a phenomenologist, Professor Krauss focuses on addressing the issue of the gap between physicists who theoretically consider elementary particles by building models, and those who participate in big experiments. Although the circumstances for experiments have improved, high-energy physics still owes a lot to the theory.
Frank Krauss has worked on the SHERPA (Simulation of High-Energy Reactions of Particles) project for over 15 years, cooperating with researchers working on the ATLAS collaborations projects as well. He sees his role in the construction of a simulation, which is to detail experimental reality. This has been his first time in Serbia, having had no prior cooperation with the researchers from Serbia, but he believes that our country’s joining the CERN family is a tremendous step that can only bring about good for our country’s scientific landscape.
’We are currently at a crossroads and it is not clear to the community which step should be our next,’ says Krauss. According to him, even before the Large Hadron Collider started working, physicists had assumed that a new type of physics was to be encountered, and there had been multiple ideas of what it would look like, but no one had believed that the new physics would go beyond the Standard Model. ’This is an ongoing process and we cannot see what we will encounter,’ explains Krauss. He claims that since the discovery of the Higgs boson, physics has improved considerably, both in measurements and theory understanding, but at the same time, he admits that it is not clear what kind of future high-energy physics will have. ’Since the question of high-energy physics remains open, there is no common ground on whether we should strive for more extensive preciseness or search for more energy,’ states Professor Krauss, who would rather search for more energy.
Some physicists say that by the discovery of the Higgs boson we have discovered a new continent which should be explored. Frank Krauss agrees with the description, adding that we have begun to learn about its coasts. ’The theory which envisioned the Standard Model had a very clear idea where this continent was, as well as what it looked like, but also some subtle details,’ elaborates Krauss.
Professor Frank Krauss has recently become one of two directors of the Durham Centre for Doctoral Training in Data-Intensive Science, founded by his colleagues from the Institute for Particle Physics Phenomenology and researchers of the Astronomy Department. He perceives data science as a new scientific method which is useful for an entire spectre of research issues. He avoids labelling these issues scientific, giving them a broader definition, precisely because he does not want the first association to be natural and exact sciences. In his opinion, a good part of the questions to which the method can be applied relates to research in the arts and humanities. ’I want to see how what we have developed and used many times is also applied in different contexts,’ Krauss says.