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New Revolutions in Particle Physics: Basic Concepts

by Stanford Continuing Studies Program

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Revolutionary new concepts about elementary particles, space and time, and the structure of matter began to emerge in the mid-1970s. Theory got far ahead of experiment with radical new ideas such as “grand unification” and “supersymmetry,” but the concepts have never been experimentally tested. Now all that is about to change; the LHC— the Large Hadron Collider—has finally been built and is about to confront theory with experiment. The next three quarters of our ongoing physics series with Leonard Susskind will be devoted to these theoretical ideas and how they will be tested. The Basic Concepts course marks the beginning of a three-quarter sequence of courses that will explore the new revolutions in particle physics. During this quarter, basic concepts will be covered, including the fundamental particles such as electrons, photons, neutrinos, quarks, and gluons. We will also encounter the four basic forces of nature: gravity, electromagnetism, the strong or nuclear force, and the weak force. The series will continue in the Winter with quantum field theory, symmetries, and the “standard model.” In the Spring, we will discuss supersymmetry, grand unification, string theory, and cosmology. While these courses build upon one another, each course also stands on its own, individually covering topics that relate to modern particle physics. This course was originally presented in Stanford's Continuing Studies program. Released with a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND license.