This award funds the research of Associate Professor John T. Giblin, Jr. at Kenyon College.
Recent observational and experimental results have shed new light on the nature of high-energy particle physics and models of the early Universe. It is clearer now than ever that the Universe is the only laboratory in which we can study fundamental physics at energies above those achievable in accelerators. The theories that describe physics at these energies are highly non-linear, complex dynamical systems. Professor Giblin's research will use employ cutting-edge numerical techniques as well as analytic methods to predict the observational consequences of many models of high-energy physics. These results will help understand how current and future observations can constrain models of beyond-the-standard model physics. This research also addresses the pressing need to cultivate interest in science among young students and college undergraduates. Approximately two hundred fifty middle school students will be brought to Kenyon College for a "Science Saturday" program that will engage them with hands on science activities. Students will also get to work with scientists throughout the day offering them a positive, interactive model of scientific inquiry. This funding will also support undergraduate research and collaboration. Meaningful undergraduate research is a critical component of supporting and cultivating the next generation of young scientists.
The numerical methods studied under this award will allow for the study of non-linear and derivatively coupled field theories as they relate to Inflation, Gauge theories and Gravitation. The software developed here, Grid and Bubble Evolver (GABE), will discover how abelian and non-abelian gauge fields modify inflation and post-inflationary process and probe the effects of field theories with non-minimal kinetic terms. Further, it will be used to predict observable signatures, primordial power spectra and gravitational radiation, of these models. These studies will help to understand whether or not realistic models of inflation are viable and consistent with observations, and explore the non-minimal nature of particles as a possible explanation of the nature of Dark Energy. In addition, this award will support investigations of nonlinear gravitational interactions during phase transitions in the post-inflationary epoch and relevant numerical. As we prepare for the next generation of gravitational wave observatories, precise predictions of gravitational wave spectra could have drastic consequences on the design and cost of these experiments.