Yau discusses collider project and inspiration for newly published book, From the Great Wall to the Great Collider.
Interview conducted by Jermey N.A. Matthews of Physics Today, published April 11, 2016.
Excerpts of the interview below:
Physics Today: Can you describe your connection to the collider project in China and what role that played in convincing you to write about it?
Yau: …The subject of particle physics and the incredible developments in the 20th century are fascinating in themselves, and that, more than anything else, is what persuaded us to write this book. We felt that we were describing one of the greatest intellectual adventures in human history.
PT: When it is completed, what types of results are expected that may not be achieved at existing facilities?
YAU: You never know what you’re going to see when you turn on a machine that’s roughly an order of magnitude more powerful than anything built before. But history tells us that we’re bound to see something new and likely astounding. While the LHC confirmed the existence of the Higgs boson, a higher-energy accelerator like the Great Collider can tell us much more about this particle, which is unlike any we’ve seen before. The Higgs was the final piece of the standard model, but we know theoretical particle physics cannot end there. Gravity, for instance, is not incorporated in the standard model, which only applies to the strong, weak, and electromagnetic forces. Many physicists are not satisfied with having two mutually incompatible theories—one describing gravity and another describing the other known forces.
Eighty-five percent of all matter, according to current doctrine, is of the “dark” (invisible) variety. Dark-matter particles may be detected at a 100 TeV collider. Supersymmetric partners to the known bosons and fermions might also be lurking, just beyond our current view. We’ll never know what’s out there until we take a good look. The notion that we’ll soon end the search, and look no further, is something I cannot accept.