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17 december 2018

Approved FOM programme

Number 104.
Title Theoretical particle physics in the era of the LHC (TPP)
Executive organisational unit BUW & FOM-Nikhef
Programme management Prof.dr. E.L.M.P. Laenen 
Duration 2008-2013
Cost estimate M€ 2.5

Cosmology, neutrino-oscillations and theoretical considerations indicate that unknown particles should exist at energies above 100 GeV, and new forces at distances less than 10-18m, i.e. new physics beyond the Standard Model. With the new LHC particle accelerator coming online at CERN, this programme intends to explore particle theory in these domains.

Background, relevance and implementation
CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which started up in 2008, opened a new energy frontier in particle physics and thereby a new window on the physics of subatomic scales. In explaining phenomena in this realm the Standard Model has been very successful. There are however strong indications, coming from cosmology (dark matter, baryogenesis, inflation), from neutrino oscillations, and from theoretical considerations, that there is a theory beyond the Standard Model, implying new particles, forces and symmetries. In this programme we aim to uncover this new theory, using three intertwined lines of approach that build on particular expertise in the Netherlands. These are (A) providing precise predictions and creating the tools thereto for LHC observables, (B) addressing the role of new sources of discrete symmetry (e.g. CP) in this context, and (C) developing conceptual frameworks for the new theory, and providing descriptions of how the associated new particles would manifest themselves.
The advent of the LHC and the opportunity for discovery it offers, make this programme very timely. It allows the theoretical particle physics community in the Netherlands to maintain and even strengthen its prominent role in the global community. It also maximizes the scientific profits resulting from interactions of theorists with the experimental particle physics programmes in the Netherlands.
To achieve these aims and profits, the programme has been structured to implement a high degree of cohesiveness among the members, who are distributed over 7 institutes. The PhD and postdoc positions are centered around well-defined projects that involve several of the perspectives A, B and C. For most of the projects, senior scientists from multiple institutions take responsibility, thereby also broadening their expertise. Furthermore, monthly Theory Center meetings bring the programme members together at Nikhef, for lectures and tutorials, to foster further collaboration, interaction and discussion, also with theoretical cosmologists, other theorists, and experimenters. For PhD students this provides a significant enhancement of the training, and a way to be active at the forefront of research in this field from the start of their projects. For postdocs, whose selection is centralized, joining a coherent community will be an added attraction for high-quality applicants. For all, this structure acts as a multiplier of the expertise in the programme towards achieving its aim.

The final evaluation of this programme will consist of a self-evaluation initiated by the programme leader and is foreseen for 2014. 

Please find a research highlight that was achieved in 2013 within this FOM programme here.