Where is Physics Headed (and How Soon Do We Get There)?
The future belongs to those who prepare for it, as scientists who petition federal agencies like NASA and the Department of Energy for research funds know all too well. The price of big-ticket instruments like a space telescope or particle accelerator can be as high as $10 billion.
And so this past June, the physics community began to consider what they want to do next, and why.
That is the mandate of a committee appointed by the National Academy of Sciences, called Elementary Particle Physics: Progress and Promise. Sharing the chairmanship are two prominent scientists: Maria Spiropulu, Shang-Yi Chen Professor of Physics at the California Institute of Technology, and the cosmologist Michael Turner, an emeritus professor at the University of Chicago, the former assistant director of the National Science Foundation and former president of the American Physical Society.
In the 1980s, Dr. Turner was among the scientists who began using the tools of particle physics to study the Big Bang and the evolution of the universe, and the universe to learn about particle physics. Dr. Spiropulu, born in Greece, was on the team in 2012 that discovered the long-sought Higgs boson at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN; she now uses quantum computers to investigate the properties of wormholes. The committees report is scheduled for release in June 2024.
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