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PHYS 557 A: High Energy Physics

Meeting Time: 
MWF 12:30pm - 1:20pm
PAA A114
Stephen R. Sharpe

Syllabus Description:

Prof. Steve Sharpe (

MWF 12:30-1:20 PAB: A114

Office hour: W 1:30-2:30, PAB B406

TA: Kyle Aitken (,

TA Office hour: Th 2:30-3:30, PAB B426



(The picture above is of a Higgs decay to tau-antitau from the ATLAS detector. Courtesy of CERN.

Welcome to PHYS 557 (Winter 2018). This course is aimed at graduate students wanting to learn about the present state of particle physics--about what the standard model is, and its successes and failures. I will also emphasize learning how to calculate some simple decay rates and scattering cross sections. It should be accessible to all graduate students, not only those doing research in particle and nuclear physics.

The course does not assume knowledge of quantum field theory---my aim is for the material to be complementary to that in the QFT course, emphasizing phenomenology and calculations rather than basic formalism. We will use Feynman diagrams to do some simple calculations, but these will be introduced as a tool kit. What is assumed is knowledge of special relativity and relativistic kinematics using 4-vectors, of Lagrangian mechanics, of angular momentum in quantum mechanics, and of how symmetries are represented in quantum mechanics. The first year graduate classes provide this background. An undergraduate course in particle physics would be helpful (but not essential if you do some background reading).

An advanced undergraduate who has taken PHYS 226 and/or 422 as well as undergraduate QM, EM and Classical mechanics and is willing to do some background reading should be able to take this course. Please contact me if you are in this situation and we can arrange a meeting.

For information about texts, homeworks, exams and grading see COURSE INFORMATION (PHYS 557) (which is also on the "Pages" link).

For useful links see LINKS.

For some fun images see IMAGES, and for the latest news see NEWS. Please email suggestions for images or links to add.

Here is the the tentative schedule, based on last year's course. It will be tweaked as the quarter progresses.

Catalog Description: 
First quarter of a three-quarter series. Emphasis on the experimental foundations of particle physics. Prerequisite: PHYS 519. Offered: A.
Section Type: 
Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 9:41pm