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The Incredible Inedible Axion

John Stout (Harvard)
Monday, January 10, 2022 - 4:00pm to 5:00pm
Even though the standard model has been enormously successful in helping us understand our universe, there are still many puzzles we need to solve. What is dark matter? Why is the weak force so strong? And how do we consistently quantize gravity? Axions are ubiquitous in modern solutions to these formal and phenomenological questions, often appearing as ultralight particles that barely couple to the standard model and have so far evaded detection. In this talk, I will explain why axions have proved to be so useful for studying questions across a wide range of energies, and how progress on the quantum gravitational aspects of axions has led to the discovery of new ingredients for phenomenological puzzle solving. I will also describe how these extremely weakly-coupled particles can strongly affect the dynamics of inspiralling binary black holes, allowing us to probe the weak-coupling frontier using future gravitational wave observatories.

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