P.hd in Precision measurements on laser cooled atoms to study problems in fundamental physicsTata Institute of Fundamental Research
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P.hd in Precision measurements on laser cooled atoms to study problems in fundamental physics
The Nature's most fundamental questions can be posed as: (a) What is matter? (b) Where does it
come from? (c) How does it stick together into complicated objects like stars, planets and human
beings? The goal of Particle Physics is simply to learn what matter is made up of at the deepest level
and what fundamental interactions they experience. The objects of study are both elementary
particle, the inner space and the Universe, the outer space.
Fundamental research at the highest energy with the smallest particles is possible by accelerating,
crashing particles into each other and then recording what happens. Starting from experiments with
cosmic rays and radioactivity, today's particle accelerators allow physicists to explore particle
collisions in a more controlled fashion which recreate the conditions prevailing at the start of the
universe. The quest for pure knowledge drives the technology forward and state-of-the-art techniques
are essential in all sectors of HEP experiments which are unlike in any other branch of science,
designed and operated by hundreds of scientists, the detectors often are as big as multi-storied
buildings, running for several years which demand international collaboration in every sense. A good
number of scientists in the department are mainly involved in various stages of front ranking
experiments at various global centres: L3 and CMS at CERN, D0 at Fermilab and BELLE at KEK. They
participate actively in designing and fabricating part of the detectors, collecting and analyzing data,
developing overall software for the experiment and preparing for future experiments. Revealing the
mystery of nature as it keeps unfolding into deeper level with the progress of our understanding is
like the task of a detective.
Many exciting problems of High Energy Physics can be experimentally addressed without recourse to
the large particle accelerators. The field of Non-Accelerator Particle Physics, which has had a rich
history at TIFR, continues to be vigorously pursued through a variety of experimental programmes
today. Cosmic Rays and Gamma Rays of extremely high energies (~ 1021 eV) constantly bathe the
Earth, and provide us our only direct knowledge of particle interactions at these energies. These are
studies at dedicated experimental facilities like GRAPES experiment at Udhagamandalam (Ooty),
PACT experiment at Pachmarhi and high altitude HAGAR experiment at Hanle (Ladakh).
Paradoxically, the study of low energy phenomena in delicately designed experiments (such as in a
search for weak fundamental forces, or for probing the discrete symmetries of nature) also yields
profound insights into High Energy Physics, and such work too is pursued at the Institute.