In Particle and Astroparticle Physics important concepts of physics meet: quantum mechanics and relativity.
The theoretical methods of Particle Physics involve the study and use of quantum field theories with among them the Standard Model of Particle Physics in which electromagnetic, weak and strong interactions are united. In Astroparticle Physics we study quantum gravity and cosmology in which all four fundamental forces of nature are relevant.
The experimental methods involve large scale experiments at accelerator facilities, such as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Geneva, which aim at the discovery of the Higgs boson and of supersymmetric particles; then there are the gravitational wave experiments that aim at the detection of truly tiny wiggles in space-time, such as the VIRGO interferometer in Pisa; other astroparticle physics experiments are aimed at neutrinos from the Earth, the Sun and the Cosmos.
Ultimate aim is to unravel the mechanisms underlying our present theory of particle physics and enhance our understanding of the structure and evolution of the cosmos.
Already as a student, it is possible to participate in this adventure of mankind, find out the hard work and dedication of the people involved and learn which abilities are required to become a part of this, an unforgettable experience that is generally useful for science, education and society.
VU physicists are involved in:
Quantumchromodynamics (theory) for those interested in how quarks and gluons build hadrons and how high-energy collissions involving hadrons are unraveled (Prof. Piet Mulders).
Gravitational wave detection (experiment) at the VIRGO interferometer in Pisa (Prof. Jo van den Brand).
B-physics (experiment) at the LHC of CERN in which one looks at ways that b-quarks disintegrate to learn about matter-antimatter asymmetry in the universe (Prof. Gerhard Raven and Prof. Marcel Merk).