Course: Particle Physics 397

Instructor: Dr. Giovanetti


Textbook: Particle Physics, 2nd Edition

by B. R. Martin, G. Shaw, B. R. Martin, Paperback: 384 pages ;

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 2nd edition (August 28, 1997),

ISBN: 0471972851,   Dimensions (in inches): 0.86 x 9.62 x 6.50


Goal: The course will be a survey of ideas and themes prominent in the study of Particle Physics.  The roots of particle physics permeate our ideas of how nature works at the most fundamental level. What are the primary ingredients and how do they mix? At present their exists a very successful theory called the Standard Model which adequately describes most observed phenomena but leaves many scientist critical of the “fundamental” level of the theory.  Successes in using symmetry as an essential ingredient in finding the basic features of nature have led to speculations as to the way the next generation of theories might evolve. Can there be some symmetry in nature that will serve as the essential ingredient to define matter and matter’s interactions? Will this be similar to the way space time symmetries lead to gravity or charge conservation leads to Maxwell’s equations? 


In addition,  the ever unfolding history of basic science from



begs the question- What’s next?.


The continued unpeeling of this onionskin leads to the speculation that there may be more levels.   Today’s fundamental particles may turn out to be composites of even more fundamental building blocks.


The quest to untangle the basic structure of matter and its interactions has led to an impressive list of experimental achievements, analytical methods to explore these results and methods to understand the landscape.  Here a few examples:


Particle accelerators are pushing our knowledge to ever-higher energies and ever-smaller scales. The next generation of accelerators (LHC) may fill in the few still missing pieces of the Standard Model (Higgs) or discover a wide assortment of unpredicted results that set the stage for a revolution.


The course will try to wander through this incredible arena of facts, models, techniques and theories sampling and exploring.  The first trip through this landscape need not be directed for under every rock can be found fascinating physics and there are far too many rocks to turn over. 


I will use as a guide the material covered in previous semesters but may decide to dramatically change what is covered and how it is covered so the course will continue to develop as the semester proceeds.  I have compiled a list of topics that could be discussed.  I also favor a path that doesn’t cover topics related to particle detectors and accelerators.  Experimental results and their consequences – yes, but the details of the measurement process no. However I would be happy to modify this opinion if the students wanted to venture down this road.


List of Topics: