Looking for a Needle in Millions of Haystacks

Saturday, 14 February 2015: 1:00 PM-2:30 PM
Room LL20D (San Jose Convention Center)
Michael Williams, Massachusetts Institute of Technology , Cambridge, MA
Most of the known fundamental particles were first observed indirectly, typically many years prior to being observed directly in our labs.  For example, the existence of the W boson, a force-carrying particle that is more than 80 times heavier than the proton, can be inferred by observing neutron decay.  The effects of the W boson are quite clear in a banana, yet humans could not directly produce and observe a W boson in the lab until 1983.  In general, indirect observation of new particles involves discovering the effects that these particles have on reactions at energies much less than what is required to make the new particles directly in the lab.  The LHCb experiment at CERN is performing precision studies of such reactions and probing mass scales well beyond humanity's technological capability for direct production of new particles for many decades to come.  Some of the reactions under study are so rare that they only occur in few per trillion proton-proton collisions at CERN.  I will discuss the results of these studies and future prospects in this area at CERN.  I will also discuss our efforts to understand the stark matter/anti-matter asymmetry present in our universe today, along with the searches we are carrying out looking for dark matter particles.