Big Science in China: Frontiers in Particle Physics and Cosmology


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Arrival Date in Beijing, China:  Saturday, July 1, 2017 (course begins July 3, 2017)

Departure Date from Beijing, China:  Saturday, July 22, 2017 (course ends by evening July 21, 2017)

Location:  Stanford Center at Peking University, Beijing, China

Instructor:  Associate Professor Chao-Lin Kuo, Department of Physics

Eligibility: Enrolled Stanford University students in good academic standing. Graduate students will be given priority.

Fees/Cost: Airfare, accommodations, and food are covered by the Stanford Center at Peking University.  See details under "Program Cost."




Fundamental physics is the discipline that studies the deepest mysteries of nature: elementary particles, space time and the origin of the universe.  Progress on these subjects has already revealed a reality far beyond naïve human imagination.  Future developments should be of tremendous interest to all nations, including ones with vastly different cultural backgrounds or political views.  In this graduate seminar, we will discuss research in frontiers of fundamental physics and its relation to society.

While it is widely agreed that fundamental physics research is one of the noblest pursuits of mankind, big experimental projects have been historically done in the Europe, Japan, and the US because of their high cost.  Now that China has become the world's second largest economy, ambitious programs in particle physics and cosmology — such as the 100-TeV super particle collider and space-based gravitational wave experiments — have been proposed.  This has stimulated an important discussion:  Is China ready to embark on mega science projects while there are still obvious challenges in the country?  Can the potential returns justify the large price tags? We will comprehensively study these issues in this course.  

The instructor Professor Chao-Lin Kuo is an experimental physicist searching for imprints of Big Bang from the South Pole, western Tibet, and space.  Although this is a course that focuses on science policies, students with good knowledge on non-calculus based physics are better prepared to appreciate all aspects of the issues.


Learning Goals

The goals of this course are: (1) to provide a conceptual overview of the frontiers of particle physics and cosmology; (2) to fact-check and systematically analyze the pros and cons presented by supporters and objectors of big science projects, with China as a case study.  

Peking University is the host institute of KIAA (Kavli Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics).  Beijing is also home to Institute of High Energy Physics, National Astronomical Observatories of China, Tsinghua University, which are the lead institutes of many of the large physics/cosmology projects.  SCPKU provides the perfect setting to have a serious conversation about big science in China and frontiers of particle physics and cosmology, with plenty of opportunities for lab tours and guest lectures. 


Seminar Schedule


This is a three-week long seminar course consisting of lectures on the subject matter, guest talks, and student presentations.

  •Week 1: Overview of particle physics and cosmology. The format is a condensed version of PHY18N taught by the instructor at Stanford University in autumn 2016.  We will cover topics in cosmology, particle physics, and gravitational-wave astronomy.

  •Week 2: Guest lectures followed by discussions; the subjects will include 100-TeV collider, space-based gravitational wave probes, FAST (300m radio telescope searching for gravitational waves), Jingping Underground facilities (dark matter searches), and Ali-CMB (cosmic microwave background experiment in Tibet). If possible, we will arrange visits to Institute of High Energy Physics, National Astronomical Observatories of China, and other labs.

  •Week 3: Fact-checking; analysis and synthesis of the arguments; summary and presentations.


Application Process

seminar application is required plus an official Stanford transcript via Axess.  Please submit transcript and the application online at the same time.  The deadline to apply is April 14, 2017.  Applications received after the deadline will be considered for the waitlist.  Transcripts via Axess should be submited to Connie Chao. The instructor will review all applications and pay particular attention to questions related to why the applicant wants to particulate in this seminar and how this course will fit and/or enhance the applicant's overall educational experience and/or chosen career.



For More Information


Please contact Professor Chao-Lin Kuo with "SCPKU Seminar" as your email subject.  More information about SCPKU's Graduate Seminar Program can be found here.



Information for Applicants from China


Eligibility: Enrolled students in good academic standing.  Graduate students will be given priority.

Fees: There is no course fee. Students joining from China are expected to pay for their own transportation, food and housing.  

Application: Please email us your CV and describe in no more than 150 words why you are interested in this course and how you would contribute, based on your background and experience.  The application deadline is May 15, 2017.