New Exciting Approaches to Particle Scattering Amplitudes

Math Physics Seminar
Wednesday, September 28, 2011 - 3:00pm
1 hour (actually 50 minutes)
Marcus Nanotech Conference
Physics Department, University of Michigan

Hosted by Predrag Cvitanovic, School of Physics

Particle scattering processes at experiments such as the Large Hadron Collider at CERN are described by scattering amplitudes. In quantum field theory classes, students learn to calculate amplitudes using Feynman diagram methods. This is a wonderful method for a process like electron + positron -> muon^- + muon^+, but it is a highly challenging for a process like gluon+gluon -> 5 gluons, which requires 149 diagrams even at the leading order in perturbation theory. It turns out, however, that the result for such gluon scattering processes is remarkably simple, in some cases it is just a single term! This has lead to new methods for calculating scattering amplitudes, and it has revealed that amplitudes have a surprisingly rich mathematical structure. The applications of these new methods range from calculation of processes relevant for LHC physics to theoretical explorations of quantum gravity. I will give a pedagogical introduction to these new approaches to scattering theory and their applications, not assuming any prior knowledge of quantum field theory or Feynman rules.