Current Workshop Details


Deadline for Applications is January 31
* denotes the organizer responsible for participant diversity in the workshop

May 29 – September 18
Individual Research

Physicists are encouraged to apply as individual researchers to work on their own projects at the Aspen Center for Physics for up to five weeks at any time during the summer. We provide a serene atmosphere to complete work. The individual researcher may also choose to attend any workshop meetings or chat with other scientists in residence in addition to working on his or her own research. Click here for more information.

May 29 – September 18
Working Group

Working groups of between two and six physicists are encouraged. Click here for more information.

May 29 - June 12
New Frontiers in Far–infrared and Sub–millimeter Astronomy

Caitlin Casey, University of Hawaii
Asantha Cooray, University of California, Irvine
Alexandra Pope, University of Massachusetts
Dominik A. Riechers, Cornell University

May 29 - June 19
Light–matter Interaction and Quantum Control In Many–body Systems

Julia S. Meyer, Universite Joseph Fourier
Felix von Oppen, Freie Universitaet Berlin
Gil Refael*, Caltech
Amir Yacoby, Harvard

The means of controlling many-body quantum systems, as well as our capabilities of exploring short-time quantum phenomena, have developed dramatically in recent years. Many new ideas have emerged for inducing new quantum phases by external control such as electromagnetic radiation. These ideas prompted numerous exciting experiments ranging from inducing transient superconducting response in driven materials to realizing topological quantum phases in driven optical lattices. Developments in quantum control were strongly motivated by the quest for quantum computing platforms in many-body quantum systems. Our program intends to bring together a broad community of experts interested in the coherent manipulation and control of many-body quantum states in real time. The workshop intends to share the challenges and recent progress on the cold-atom, solid-state, and quantum computing frontiers, and to synthesize a common vision for the broad field of quantum dynamics.

May 29 - June 19
The Many Faces of Naturalness

Prateek Agrawal, Fermi National Laboratory
Timothy Cohen, University of Oregon
David Curtin, University of Maryland
Jiji Fan*, Syracuse University

The focus of this high energy theory summer workshop is Naturalness in all its forms. The Higgs discovery has provided the final piece of the Standard Model, and has solidified the electroweak naturalness puzzle as one of utmost importance to particle physics. One of the most profound lessons from this discovery is that the physics responsible for electroweak symmetry breaking appears to be weakly coupled (at least for energies of order 100 GeV). In most well-known solutions to the hierarchy problem, experimental constraints force some level of fine-tuning in order to reproduce the measured value of the weak scale and Higgs mass. This motivates a broader search for novel mechanisms for solving the hierarchy problem, which lead to new experimental signatures at colliders and beyond. Are these signatures covered by current and future experiments? These theories may also lead to new connections between the hierarchy problem and other new physics such as dark matter, strong-CP problem, inflation or baryogenesis. Can cosmological and/or astrophysical probes give further insight into naturalness of the weak scale, perhaps by making a connection to the cosmological constant? Historically, naturalness has been an important guide in the search of new physics. The Higgs discovery makes this the perfect time to take stock of our theoretical understanding and examine the implications across various aspects of fundamental physics.

June 12 - July 3
Testing the Laws of Gravity with Cosmological Surveys

Chris Blake*, Swinburne University
Catherine Heymans, University of Edinburgh
Dragan Huterer, University of Michigan
Nikhil Padmanabhan, Yale University

A wide set of cosmological observations suggests that the dynamics of the Universe are dominated by some form of dark energy. However, its physical nature is not yet understood, and could involve a modification of General Relativity (GR) on cosmological scales. Such modifications can be tested by observational probes including gravitational lensing and galaxy velocities, which are poised to benefit from a significant increase in available datasets from both imaging and spectroscopic cosmological surveys. This workshop aims to bring together experts in observational and theoretical cosmology to discuss the optimal analysis and design of these surveys. What are the most sensitive and informative points of comparison between gravitational measurements and modified gravity theories? How should we best describe deviations from GR? What are the key systematic errors that will afflict observations of lensing and velocities, and how can they be mitigated? What new simulations are needed to test and calibrate these methods? What alternative methods are available for testing gravity? The workshop will be based on a combination of focussed small-group meetings, tutorial sessions and open discussion. Participation is encouraged from a diverse range of cosmologists, including postdoctoral researchers.

June 19 - July 10
Emergence, Evolution and Effects of Black Holes in the Universe: The Next 50 Years of Black Hole Physics

Andrey Kravtsov, University of Chicago
Priya Natarajan*, Yale University
Feryal Ozel, University of Arizona
Alexey Vikhlinin, Harvard–Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

Black holes are one of the most intriguing objects in the Universe and one of the most bizarre predictions of general relativity. Yet, observations in the last 50 years suggest that they are ubiquitous: they appear as the engines of luminous compact sources in the universe, ranging from powerful high redshift quasars to X-ray binaries; they are observed commonly in the centers of galaxies and appear to play a role in their evolution. In addition to their astrophysical relevance, the black hole immediate environments also offer the best tests of general relativity in the strong field regime. The coming decade will bring a wealth of new data - ranging from the potential detection of gravitational waves to X-ray data from accretion onto them. In this workshop, we will focus on the open questions pertinent to the formation, evolution over cosmic time as well the environments of these enigmatic objects. We will discuss the current results and potential future measurements of their key properties - masses and spins - and examine the theoretical frameworks within which these measurements are interpreted. We will explore ways in which we measure and quantify their impact on their environments, from their energetic jets to their modulation of star formation in galaxies, with particular focus on constraints that can be obtained from future X-ray missions. Finally, we will discuss the new tests of general relativity that will be performed around black holes, with the images from the Event Horizon Telescope from gravitational waves, and from the motions of stars, pulsars and hot gas orbiting them. By bringing together a diverse group of experts in theory and multi-wavelength observations across these areas, we hope to hone our vision on what all can be learnt from and about black holes in the coming decades. Black holes continue to surprise us with the powerful and significant role they play in the universe.

June 19 - July 10
Entanglement Matters

Bela Bauer*, University of California, Santa Barbara
Joel Moore, University of California, Berkeley
Xiaoliang Qi, Stanford
Frank Verstraete, University of Vienna

This workshop will be devoted to a broad range of topics where ideas from quantum information theory, in particular the theory of entanglement, have influenced research in condensed matter or high energy systems. This includes the characterization of strongly correlated systems through entanglement properties, the compact description and simulation of quantum phases through tensor network states, and the description of entanglement and quantum communication via holographic dualities. Important static and dynamic bounds are established for entanglement, but the entanglement properties of typical physical states are not as well understood and only recently became amenable to experiment. Our aim is to bring together researchers in these different areas to facilitate progress in this active and fast-moving field.

July 10 - August 14
High Temperature Superconductors as a Window to Understanding Unconventional Strongly Correlated Physics

Catherine Kallin*, McMaster University
Dung-Hai Lee, University of California, Berkeley
Mohit Randeria, Ohio State University
Suchitra Sebastian, Cambridge University
Andre-Marie Tremblay, Universite de Sherbrooke

This workshop will focus on the physics of the high temperature copper-oxide and iron pnictide superconductors, with the goal of illuminating wider aspects of strongly correlated electron systems. One focus will be an exploration of ways to find new high temperature superconductors by a deepened understanding of the cooperation between spin and both orbital fluctuations and lattice vibrations in enabling strong Cooper pairing, as well as our understanding of the electronic orders that intertwine with superconductivity in the oxides, pnictides, heavy fermions and organics. A dual focus will be to probe aspects of unconventional families of superconductors where the Fermi liquid paradigm is challenged, including the enigmatic pseudogap and ‘strange metal’ regime of the copper-oxide superconductors. We hope to bring together experts who can facilitate an interplay between experiment, advanced numerical lattice theories and analytical low energy theories. This will allow us to address a central problem facing the field of correlated electron materials: bridging the regime of validity of microscopic approaches based on strong coupling approaches using large coordination and high temperature with the more phenomenological frameworks based on effective field theories that aim to describe the low energy physics.

July 10 - August 7
Boundaries and Defects in Quantum Field Theories

Tudor Dan Dimofte*, Institute for Advanced Study, Trinity College, Cambridge
Daniel Freed, University of Texas, Austin
Anton Kapustin, Caltech
Constantin Teleman, University of California, Berkeley

The workshop will explore various aspects of extended quantum field theory. Beyond local operators at points, a QFT typically has extended operators: line operators, surface operators, domain walls, boundaries, etc. In the past few years these have played a central role in many field theoretic investigations in high energy theory and condensed matter. Indeed, extended operators are refining our very conception of what constitutes a quantum field theory. Some topics of interest include:
- The algebraic and geometric structures governing extended operators, and their interplay with dualities.
- Generalized global symmetries (associated to invertible topological defects), their anomalies, and their role in topological phases of matter.
- Applications of extended QFT to knot homology and other topological invariants of manifolds.

The workshop aims to engender discussion and collaboration on these topics among both physicists and mathematicians.

August 7 - August 28
The Sequencing Revolution and the Role of Physics in High–throughput Biology

Ned Wingreen*, Princeton
Michael Brenner, Harvard
Lucy Colwell, Cambridge University
Daniel Fisher, Stanford

Biological sequences carry all the information necessary to describe and build living organisms, yet the mapping from sequence to phenotype that would allow us to deeply understand biological systems still evades us. The advent of low-cost, high-throughput sequencing is producing a revolution in biology at multiple levels, from molecules, to cellular processes, to the interactions between cells that lead to microbial communities and multicellular organisms. Sequencing and other new sources of massive quantities of primary biological data present an exciting opportunity for physics and physicists. Given that biophysical model building is an essential part of turning the mass of high-throughput data into predictive genotype-to-phenotype mappings, physicists are poised to join in leading these developments. The workshop will focus on three broad areas – molecules and their interactions, cellular processes, and interacting cells – where high-throughput data has already had a major impact. In particular, each of these areas has benefitted enormously and will continue to benefit from sequencing, though major advances will require developing new ways of connecting the sequence information to phenotype that have real biological (rather than statistical) significance. While the biological questions in these areas are very different, we believe there may be common approaches for untangling them, and there is much to be gained by discussing them together. Moreover, many of the leading biologists working in these three broad areas appreciate the need for strong interactions with physicists and theorists to bridge the gap from data to understanding, both in experimental design and data interpretation, and a priority of the workshop will be to bring together theorists and experimentalists working in these areas.

August 14 - September 18
Limited space may be available for LHC workshop participants during the week of Aug. 7, depending on the demand for the workshops scheduled then.
The LHC Awakens: A New Energy Frontier

Stefania Gori*, Perimeter Institute
Ian Low, Argonne National Laboratory/Northwestern University
William Murray, STFC-RAL/Warwick University
Joshua Ruderman, New York University
Jesse Thaler, MIT

By summer 2016, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will have delivered a large dataset from proton-proton collisions at an unprecedented center-of-mass energy of 13 TeV. This Run II dataset will significantly push forward the energy frontier and open a new realm of opportunities for the discovery of new fundamental physics. The goal of this workshop is to bring together collider physics and model building experts with LHC experimentalists in order to capitalize on the unique opportunities presented by this particular moment for particle physics. We plan to discuss what we have learned from the results of the first year of LHC Run II, as well as to prepare for the challenges that lie ahead with the increased amount of data expected over the next years.

August 21 - September 11
Universal Accretion: The Physics of Mass Accretion on All Scales and in Diverse Environments

Nathalie Degenaar, Cambridge University
Paul Groot*, Radboud University, Nijmegen
Fiona Harrison, Caltech
Jason Hessels, Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy

The physics governing accretion of matter onto a central object appears to be universal: scaling laws can be applied from stellar mass black holes to supermassive black holes; between black holes, neutron stars and white dwarfs and even extending to young stellar objects. Relativistic jets are launched in all accreting sources, suggesting a central-source-independent mechanism anchored in the inner disk.

New observations in gamma-rays, X-rays, optical and radio, through long-term monitoring from space and from the ground, show that analysis techniques can be used across the electromagnetic spectrum.

The aim of the three-week workshop is to bring theory and observations together from all communities working on accreting sources: x-ray binaries, young stellar objects, active galactic nuclei, accreting white dwarf binaries and to understand the (astro)physics underlying accretion, the Universe's powerhouse.

August 28 - September 18
Approaching the Stellar Astrophysical Limits of Exoplanet Detection: Getting to 10 cm/s

Gibor Basri, University of California, Berkeley
Fabienne Bastien, Pennsylvania State University
Xavier Dumusque, Observatory of Geneva
Jason Wright*, Pennsylvania State University

Precise spectroscopic measurements of starlight have revealed Doppler shifts better than one part per 10^8, resulting in the discovery of hundreds of planets orbiting other stars (“exoplanets”). These measurements require precise instruments capable of maintaining their precision over decades. Recent advances of frequency laser combs and temperature and vacuum stability have allowed instruments to push towards precision below one part in 10^10 (3 cm/s), necessary for the clean detection of Earth-like planets orbiting Sun-like stars. The dominant obstacle is now uncertainties in the motions of stellar atmospheres, which are 10^5 times larger than the reflex velocities on stellar centers of mass caused by planets. These motions, which “average out” to first order, produce subtle changes to stellar spectra, producing spurious Doppler shifts (“stellar noise”) with amplitudes significantly larger than 10 cm/s. Only recently have realistic, 3D models of stellar atmospheres been developed, and they still lack proper treatment of the dominant source of stellar noise, magnetic fields (which can strongly suppress convection and create dark starspots). We aim, with this workshop, to bring together researchers working in a variety of fields related to exoplanet detection but that infrequently interface with each other in order to determine the physical drivers of stellar noise, to develop ways to maximize prospects for Earth-like exoplanet detection, and to optimize strategies to make the most effective use of data from upcoming experiments and observing facilities. This workshop seeks to attract theorists, numerical modelers, and observers from the fields of exoplanet detection, stellar astrophysics, solar physics, and instrument design, among others.

* Organizer in charge of Diversity
For more information about the Aspen Center for Physics, call (970) 925-2585 or email acp at aspenphys. org.