Experimental particle physics addresses fundamental questions about the nature of matter, energy, and the evolution of the universe. The roots of this field go back to the 19th century with the discovery of the electron, X-rays, and the atomic nucleus. In the 21st century particle physics is a global endeavor involving teams of hundreds, or thousands, of physicists and engineers utilizing large and complex experimental systems, and massive distributed computing to address a range of basic scientific questions.
The key to success in this research is innovation in instrumentation and computing, and the development of novel analytical and numerical methods.
Instrumentation, methods, and computing, in experimental particle physics, have a long and distinguished history in Berkeley – from the invention of the circular particle accelerator, or “cyclotron”, by E. O. Lawrence (Nobel Prize 1939), to critical experimental contributions to the discovery of the Higgs Boson (Nobel Prize 2013). Read more about history. Close collaboration between scientists at UC Berkeley and the adjacent Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) has been an essential ingredient for breakthrough discoveries throughout this history.
Together with our sister centers, the Berkeley Center for Theoretical Physics and the Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics, our quest is to find what is the universe made of and why it has its present form. Today, these questions can be formulated as: What lies beyond the Standard Model of particle physics? What is driving the expansion of the universe? What is dark matter? How are these questions connected? These questions are the focus of the three centers. For the Berkeley Experimental Particle Physics center, the required tools are new and more powerful instruments, large scale computational processes, and novel analytical methods.
The BEPP center seeks to capitalize on, and leverage the existing Berkeley activities in fundamental physics. The BEPP center creates a new hub for innovation in instrumentation and methods. This will foster new connections across the scientific and engineering disciplines at the University, LBNL, and with industry. Such cross-discipline connections are vital to seed innovation. Thus the center embraces activities outside particle physics that are related to particle physics instrumentation and methods. A perfect example of this is the Sound Reproduction R&D project led by C. Haber (McArthur Fellowship 2013). Of course, all members of the BEPP are deeply involved in critical experiments across particle physics (see Activities). To round up the creation of the best environment to seed innovation, the center will host visitors from outside Berkeley at all levels (from students to leading experts) and organize topical workshops.
The BEPP center operation is funded by public grants and private donations.