In an effort to capture and celebrate the essence of their colleague Pran Nath on his 80th birthday, physics professors at Northeastern decided to throw throw him a conference focused on the latest research into particle physics and cosmology.
“Apart from being an extraordinary scientist, he is also a fantastic human being,” says Tomasz Taylor,
a physics professor at Northeastern Univeristy who is chairing the conference.
The conference, titled “Modern Trends in Particle Physics,” will honour Nath’s contributions to the scientific community by bringing together international stars of the field to discuss their work in particle physics and cosmology.
Nath was hired at Northeastern in 1966. Since then, he has spent his career trying to uncover the laws of physics that govern our universe. He focuses his work on the building blocks of the universe: fundamental particles, such as electrons, quarks, and leptons, and the forces between them.
“The standard model can only take us up to a certain energy, but we know that fundamental physics started with the Big Bang, or even before, when energies were much larger,” says Nath, who is now the Matthews Distinguished University Professor of Physics at Northeastern.
In 1982, Nath and several colleagues proposed a theory linking gravity with particle physics, called supergravity grand unification. It relies on a principle known as supersymmetry, which predicts that every known particle has a partner particle that hasn’t been discovered yet.
Supersymmetry elegantly fills in the gaps in the standard model and links to other possible theories of the universe such as string theory. But so far, experiments designed to discover supersymmetric particles have come up empty. Nath hopes the next generation of experiments, done with more powerful instruments and at higher energies, will finally reveal some evidence of these particles.
Nath’s legacy will continue to shape future experiments and theories posited by the next generation of scientists.