Carnegie Mellon University to Host 9th International Conference on B Physics-Mellon College of Science - Carnegie Mellon University

Friday, September 26, 2003

Carnegie Mellon University to Host 9th International Conference on B Physics

PITTSBURGH—An international group of theoretical and experimental physicists will gather at Carnegie Mellon University to attend Beauty 2003, the 9th International Conference on B Physics at Hadron Machines. The conference will run from Tuesday, October 14, until Saturday, October 18. All sessions will be held in the Rangos Ballroom in the University Center.

“The Beauty conferences are the only conferences solely dedicated to beauty – or b-quark physics,” says Helmut Vogel, professor in the Carnegie Mellon Department of Physics and member of the local organizing committee for the conference.

More than 100 physicists are coming from as far away as China and Germany to review recent results in the field of B physics and CP violation, areas of particle physics that look for evidence to explain differences between matter and antimatter.

Matter, as we encounter it, comprises three elementary particles – the electron, the “up quark” and the “down quark.” The up quarks and down quarks are bound together to form protons and neutrons, which in turn are bound together to form the nucleus of an atom. Although matter is made up of only three particles, many other kinds of exotic particles have been detected through experiments in high-energy particle physics. These include the bottom, top, strange and charm quarks; leptons; mesons; and neutrinos. In addition, each of these particles has a counterpart known as an antiparticle.

Many physicists believe that matter and antimatter were created in equal amounts during the Big Bang. Nanoseconds after the Big Bang, antimatter rapidly disappeared, leaving the matter that comprises the universe today.

Seeking an explanation for the universe’s preference for matter over antimatter, physicists are experimenting with B mesons, particles that contain either a beauty quark or a beauty antiquark. B mesons are produced using powerful accelerators, machines that collide opposing beams of particles. Moving at speeds close to the speed of light, the particle beams collide, producing B mesons and anti-B mesons, which quickly decay into lighter particles. Physicists look for evidence of CP Violation, a condition in which a particle does not decay in the same way as its antiparticle. Understanding CP Violation would establish why there is an overwhelming abundance of matter in the universe.

Ed Witten, renowned theorist and professor of physics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, is among the prominent speakers at the conference. On Tuesday afternoon he will discuss the role that B physics plays in answering the outstanding questions of particle physics.

By starting the Beauty series of conferences in the early 1990s, Peter Schlein of the University of California, Los Angeles, provided a forum for physicists to explore the experimental reach of current and future generations of B physics experiments. Each year, the conference is held in a different location. Previous conferences have been held in Spain, Israel and the Czech Republic.

The Beauty 2003 conference is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. National Science Foundation and Carnegie Mellon University.

By: Lauren Ward