Level : Graduate
Course Language : French
Term : Spring
Number of hours : 480
ECTS Credits : 20
Pierre FAYET (firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. 01-4432-3776 or 01-4707-7146, fax: 01 43 36 76 66)
Denis BERNARD (email@example.com ; Tél. 01 44 32 37 75 ; Fax : 01 43 36 76 66)
Arnd SPECKA (firstname.lastname@example.org, Ecole polytechnique, 01-69 33 55 67 ; Fax : 01 69 33 55 08)
The aim of this research project is to place the students in contact with fundamental research, as practised in theoretical and particle physics laboratories. The work experience project is naturally aimed at students with the motivation for this kind of research, as well as at those who – having decided to do something else – want to learn what fundamental research is all about for a period of three months. It lets them discover what research life is like in these disciplines.
The subjects proposed for the work experience projects fall into three categories:
1) Theory of matter at the macroscopic scale (contact Denis Bernard)
In physics, the vast number of degrees of freedom at the microscopic scale gives rise at intermediate and macroscopic scales to a variety of quantum or statistical phenomena that need to be understood. Spectacular progress has been achieved in quantum mechanics or statistics, thanks to the use of concepts from field theory and probability theory (e.g. the recent Fields medal relating to two-dimensional statistical physics) and certain topics of the option are linked to it. Others illustrate the application of concepts from statistical physics to domains that are in principle external to this one, for example the “complex” systems (e.g. disordered systems or financial markets). Finally, themes inspired by biology supply some very interesting subjects for statistical physics.
2) Theoretical particle physics (contact Pierre Fayet)
This is all about understanding the structure and the interactions of fundamental particles. A spectacular breakthrough was achieved when it was discovered that all the known interactions (electromagnetic, gravitational, strong and weak nuclear) can be described using a single language, that of “gauge theories”. This result, brilliantly confirmed by experience, allows us to hope that a deeper-level unification is no longer beyond our grasp. This fundamental question poses exciting problems both for physics and for mathematics that will be at the focal point of the subjects proposed.
3) Experimental particle physics (contact Arnd Specka)
What does the dark matter in our universe consist of? Are there such things as supersymmetrical particles? What is the origin of the very different masses of the elementary particles? These are three of the most burning questions among the many that are raised by particle physicists, both theoretical and practical, today. Experimental information, whether from the discovery of new phenomena or from accurate measurements, is indispensable for inspiring and testing theories. Major experimental programmes are being designed, realized or implemented through international collaborations. All use state of the art techniques in various domains – high-speed electronics, real-time computing, data processing, powerful lasers or the delicate physics of particle detectors. A student motivated by the big questions in physics will have the opportunity to come face to face with the experimental side. Some of the work experience projects offered will be related to highly topical subjects: neutrino oscillations, investigation of the Higgs boson, fundamental symmetries, particle astrophysics. Other work experience projects will be based on applications of subatomic physics such as nuclear rectors, accelerator techniques or nuclear medicine.
The range of subjects proposed ranges widely, even within each of the categories. Some theoretical subjects are directly linked to practical experience, others involve studying a model to allow the essential points of a phenomenon to be understood; sometimes, solutions will have to be found to a pure or applied mathematics problem, or it may be necessary to resort to the computer. In experimental physics, the work may involve implementing a more or less new device for data capture and for the analysis of the results. Some of the proposed subjects, both theoretical and experimental, have computing components of varying degrees of importance (digital analysis or simulation on a computer, information processing, programming).
RESEARCH WORK EXPERIENCE - PRACTICAL DETAILS
Students are invited to arrange themselves into pairs for carrying out this work, since this lets them get the most out of it. Individuals may be accepted in cases where it proved impossible to make a pair.
The work experience topics may, in the best case, end up as a piece of original research work that can be published; they will in any event require a preliminary introduction for a shorter or longer period depending on the subjects. Acquiring this additional knowledge above the teaching at the École is done during the work experience period, but may also be supervised as necessary by the work organizers during the research experience period.
The work experience projects will take place in the laboratories in and around Paris (École Normale Supérieure, Universités Paris VI-VII, ESPCI, Institut Curie, Collège de France, École Polytechnique, Centre du CEA à Saclay, Université Paris XI à Orsay) or elsewhere in France (particularly the ENS in Lyon), or abroad. Some experimental work placements involving data capture may allow for stays at the major European accelerators (CERN, Hamburg).
The teachers and organizers are available to give you any further details you require on any of the aspects proposed (type of work, ratio of introductory work to original research, etc.) and to help mould them as necessary to suit your preferences. The three teaching staff are equally ready to consider the possibility of organizing work experience placements on other subjects that particularly motivated students would like to study, or experimental work experience placements at CERN in particular (for which English is required).
Given the lead time required to “get into” the work experience topics suggested, it is a good idea for you to choose your subject and discuss it with your future supervisor for the period well in advance. It is recommended that you think carefully about the theme selected before setting the wheels in motion.
To give some indication, here is a list of work experience topics proposed during previous years:
- The quantum Hall effect.
- Fractional statistics and conformal theories.
- Bose-Einstein condensation of atoms.
- Quantum chaos.
- Replication methods in the microcanonical ensemble.
- Statistical physics and game theory.
- Properties of the Brownian self-transport operator.
- Exact solutions in non-equilibrium statistical physics.
- From traffic routing to growth of interfaces: the dynamics of a disordered system.
- Phase separation in mixtures of hard particles.
- Detachment of bilayer membranes of surfactants.
- Theory of superconductors at critical high temperature.
- Electrical transport across a molecule.
- Micro-manipulation of the DNA molecule.
- Mechanical properties of viral capsids.
- Bubble nuclei.
- Hadron therapy.
- Accelerators for hybrid nuclear reactors.
- A new state of matter: the quark-gluon plasma.
- Quantum chromodynamics and the photon.
- Dark matter and supersymmetry.
- Supersymmetry and the masses of Higgs bosons.
- Magnetic monopoles and duality.
- String theory.
- The evaporation of black holes.
- Investigations of the violations of fundamental symmetries in the disintegrations of strange mesons, B mesons and tau leptons.
- Investigations into Higgs bosons and supersymmetrical particles using LEP 200.
- Investigation of the mass of the neutrino using the phenomenon of oscillation.
- Preparation of a detector for a future e + e - collider.
- Antares practical experience: a submarine detector for very high energy neutrinos of cosmic origin.
- Investigations into gravitational waves, work experience project Virgo.
Last Modification : Thursday 20 December 2012
|© Ecole Polytechnique 2013 - Developed by Winch Communication|