Understanding the Quantum Universe: Mysteries of Massive and [Almost] Massless Particles

Nigel Lockyer
Director, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. Adjunct Prof., Dept. Physics & Astronomy, U. Penn.

Videography by Nerine & Robert Clemenzi, Edited by Nerine Clemenzi
Copyright © Philosophical Society of Washington.  All rights reserved.


The past two decades have seen a revolution in understanding the universe's most fundamental particles, ushered in by several landmark discoveries. The top quark was measured to be inexplicably heavy, with a mass 300,000 times greater than the electron. The three kinds of neutrinos were found to change into one another as they propagate through space and time, something that requires them to have mass. And they were found to be surprisingly light - 100 billion times lighter than the top quark.

The mystery of the wide range of particle masses was only partly resolved by the discovery of the long sought after Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in 2012. The world's particle physicists have now embarked on an ambitious program of experiments at the LHC and at Fermilab to more completely solve the mystery.

This lecture will describe the experiments and what we hope to learn from them.

About the Author:

Nigel Lockyer

Nigel Lockyer began his tenure as director of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in September 2013. An experimental particle physicist, Lockyer spent more than two decades as a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. His research focused on high-energy particle physics using experiments at Fermilab's Tevatron particle collider and the applications of particle physics technologies to medicine. In 2005 Lockyer became the director of TRIUMF, Canada's national laboratory for nuclear and particle physics. Under his leadership, TRIUMF formulated a vision for ascending the world stage in nuclear physics, expanded its operations by 25 percent, developed strong partnerships among Canada's major science laboratories and launched new international collaborations. Lockyer holds a Ph.D. in physics from The Ohio State University, is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and received the Society's 2006 Panofsky Prize for his leading research on the bottom quark.

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