The University of Oviedo co-directs a European project on theoretical particle physics that unites 17 countries
June 21, 2013
The goal of the project, funded by the COST program, is to create a powerful network for research activity on String Theory developed in the main specialized centers in Europe
The University of Oviedo co-directs a European project on theoretical particle physics that unites 17 countries. Yolanda Lozano, researcher of the Asturian institution, directs alongside Professor Silvia Penati, from the University of Milano-Bicocca, this project that aims at integrating in a wide network the research activity on String Theory that takes place in the main specialized centers of Europe.
This initiative is framed in the European COST project, whose aim is to fund semi-private research. More than 50 international researchers participate in this four-year project, which has just been started, with an initial funding of €123,000 for this year. Its aim is to incorporated new countries and additional funding during this period.
The String Theory has been the main concern of theoretical physicist for the last 30 years. This theory would explain the laws of nature, including gravitation, within the framework of quantum physics. As Yolanda Lozano puts it, it constitutes "the most promising theory to provide a unified description of all the interactions and constituents of the Universe".
The basic idea behind this theory is that the fundamental constituents of reality are the equivalent of strings that vibrate at different frequencies. The Universe can never be smaller than the size of a string. Starting at that point, it may begin to expand. Although the observable physical universe has three spatial dimensions and one temporal dimension, string theories describe a universe with ten dimensions. The extra dimensions would be compartmentalized in circles so small that, in practice, would be impossible to observate.
Yolanda Lozano, researcher from the Group of Theoretical Physics of High Energies, co-directs the project, in which more than a hundred international experts from 17 countries participate
While the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the CERN searches for clues to these extra dimensions, space missions, such as WMAP or PLANCK, will research the primitive Universe, where the effects of quantum gravity are essential. Apart from its potential as a unified theory for the four fundamental interactions (which has allowed for the currently most convincing description of the physics of black holes), the String Theory also allows for the visualization in a geometrical way of phenomena that pose, nowadays, great challenges for Physics.
In particular, the celebrated AdS/CFT correspondence has meant a tremendous step forwards in our own comprehenshion of the strong nuclear interaction, responsible for the very existence of the proton. It also permits the study of phenomena such as superconductivity or superfluidity from a totally innovative and unexpected point of view. Due to this great potential, the String Theory is one of the most dynamic and competitive fields in Theoretical Physics worldwide. Apart from Professor Yolanda Lozano, two other researchers from the University of Oviedo participate in the project: Doctors Patrick Meessen and Diego Rodríguez-Gómez, holders of the Ramón y Cajal grant and researchers hired by the Group of Theoretical Physics of High Energies.