UHM Physics Department Colloquia - Previous Years

Nobel week 2008 - "Why would anyone go to Stockholm in December? " (Stephen Olsen, UHM-Physics)

by Prof. Stephen Olsen (Physics & Astronomy/UHM)

Thursday, 22 January 2009 from to (Pacific/Honolulu)
at UHM - Watanabe Hall ( Rm 112 )
2505 Correa Road Honolulu, HI 96822
Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Maskawa shared half of the 2008 Nobel Physics prize in recognition of their seminal insight in 1973 that CP violation --- i.e. matter-antimatter differences --- could be incorporated into the Standard Model of particle physics in a natural way, but only if six different types of quarks (the u-, d- & s-quarks) existed in nature. At the time, when only three different types of quarks were known, this seemed like a pretty far-fetched idea. Nevertheless, shortly after the KM paper appeared, UH theorist Sandip Pakvasa & UH visitor Hirotaka Sugawara showed that the KM idea could, in fact, account for CP violations that were known at that time, a result that led people to take the KM proposal seriously. Subsequently, when three more quarks (the c-, b- & t-quarks) were discovered, the KM idea was incorporated, albeit tentatively, into most theories. A prediction of the KM idea is the occurrence of huge matter-antimatter differences in certain decays of particles containing b-quarks. In 2001, the Belle experiment in Japan and the BaBar experiment at Stanford verified the KM prediction, thereby securing the prize for K & M. In recognition of their contributions to this episode, Kobayashi invited Pakvasa & Sugawara along with leaders of the Belle (including me!) & BaBar experiments to be his guests at the award ceremony in Stockholm on December 10 (Alfred Nobel's birthday). In this talk I will describe the ceremony and associated events, including the physics, chemistry & economics Laureate lectures, the banquet with the Royal Family, & the subsequent all-night party at the Royal Institute of Technology. A little bit of science & a lot of pictures.