Press Release 050/2011

News about the World Machine

Congress of the German Physical Society in Karlsruhe

From March 28 to April 1, particle physics, mathematical phys-ics, and gravity research will meet at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). At a congress of the German Physical Society (DPG), about 1200 experts will speak about dark matter, neu-trinos, cosmic rays, and about the experiments at CERN, the European Center for Nuclear and Particle Physics at Geneva, and research centers in Japan and the USA. Apart from experimental fundamental research, current developments in theoretical and mathematical physics will be in the focus. The highlight will be a celebration event with a presentation by the General Director of CERN, Rolf-Dieter Heuer. A public presentation on March 30 will complement the program.


On the occasion of the congress, the media are cordially invited to come to a press conference on Wednesday, March 30, 9.00 hrs:
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Audimax, building 30.95, Seminarraum SEMR I
Straße am Forum 1, 76131 Karlsruhe, Germany

The following persons will be present:
Prof. Dr. Rolf-Dieter Heuer, General Director of CERN,
Prof. Dr. Thomas Müller, congress organizer, KIT,
Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Sandner, President of the German Physical
Prof. Dr. Eberhard Umbach, KIT President,
and other congress participants.
After the press conference, a celebration event will take place at the Audimax, to which the media also are cordially invited.

Kindly register on the form enclosed or directly by e-mail to presseFzf4∂dpg-physik de.

Subjects of the Congress:

The World Machine

What happened during the Big Bang? Why does matter exist? What does it consist of? What is “dark matter”? How many spatial dimen-sions are there and does the Universe also comprise hidden dimen-sions? Such fundamental questions are in the focus of particle physics. In this connection, the so-called standard model is of crucial importance. It is a theory describing with enormous precision the smallest particles known to us and the forces acting among them. Still, it leaves much room for speculation. The Higgs boson, for instance, has been searched for about 30 years and still remains to be detected. This particle is deemed a central actor in the micro universe, as it is supposed to give other particles their mass. In their hunt for the Higgs boson, research centers on both sides of the Atlantic so far have raced neck and neck: In the USA, Fermilab with the particle accelerator TEVATRON. In Europe, CERN with the LHC, the largest particle accelerator in the world. Now, all signs are in favor of the LHC. Since its commissioning in the past year, the physicists involved, including a working group of KIT, have entered virgin territory already. The results obtained so far can be described well by the conventional theory. But further data acquisition is ex-pected to provide new insights into the early times of the universe.

The congress will also deal with the experiments in Tsukuba, Japan. At the research laboratory there, scientists study the so-called sym-metry breaking between matter and antimatter. These studies are aimed at answering the question why the universe contains matter at all.

Oscillating Neutrinos

Neutrinos are elementary particles that change their properties by neutrino oscillations. In Japan, Italy, and France, experiments are being conducted with German participation in order to study this behavior. At the DPG congress, the status of these studies will be discussed. Neutrino oscillations are of interest to science, because this phenomenon so far has not been brought in line with the stand-ard model of particle physics. The oscillating behavior of neutrinos is also studied in Karlsruhe. At KIT, the largest and most precise neutrino scales in the world are being established.

Cosmic Rays

Energetic particles cannot only be found in particle accelerators. As cosmic rays, they reach our planet from the depth of the universe. Sometimes, gigantic amounts of energy are encountered, which cannot even be reached in the LHC. Which natural events release such energies? Science suspects that star explosions and black holes are the causes. To study cosmic rays, observation in-struments are being set up all around the globe. During the DPG congress, measurement data of observatories located in the Antarc-tic, on the ground of the Mediterranean Sea, at Karlsruhe, in the highlands of Namibia or in the Argentine pampa will be discussed. KIT plays a major role at the latter observatory.

Dark Matter
Another topic will be the search for dark matter. Astronomic obser-vations suggest that the universe does not only contain matter in the form of stars and gas clouds. This dark matter does not release any radiation, it is only noticeable by its gravity. Most researchers think that this dark matter represents elementary particles that have not yet been identified. At the LHC, it is tried to generate them artifi-cially and to study their properties. The other approach pursued is to track down existing particles of dark matter. At Karlsruhe, it will be reported about both approaches.

Quantum Gravity
Presentations in the field of gravity research will focus on one di-lemma in particular: While gravity on the astronomic scale is de-scribed best by Einstein’s theory of relativity, a description equally valid for the quantum world is still lacking. Quantum theory can pre-cisely represent the behavior of elementary particles, but leaves the influence of gravity unconsidered. Under the heading of “quantum gravity”, scientists are therefore working on a description of gravity for smallest spatial dimensions, a model combining quantum theory with the theory of relativity. The frequently mentioned “string theory” or “loop quantum gravity” might be suitable approaches. The con-gress will focus on current developments in this field.

Mathematical Physics
In addition, current developments in mathematical physics will be discussed at the conference. Discussions will concentrate on entan-gled quantum states and their usability for future quantum comput-ers and on a cosmological model that might explain the dynamics of the universe without dark energy.

Celebration Highlight

On March 30, the Ph. D. award for excellent Ph. D. theses in the fields of gravity research, nuclear or particle physics will be handed over during the celebration event. The awardee will be chosen from a group of candidates who will present their research results to an expert panel on the day before. The program will additionally in-clude presentations by the Director General of CERN, Rolf-Dieter Heuer, and the particle physicist Günter Wolf from the DESY Re-search Center, Hamburg. Wolf is this year’s winner of the Stern-Gerlach medal, the highest DPG honor for experimental physics.

Public Evening Presentation
The general public also will have the opportunity to get into contact with physics at the DPG congress. Congress organizer Thomas Müller will make a public evening presentation. The Karlsruhe parti-cle physicist and his institute are involved in experiments at CERN, in the USA, and in Japan.

Wednesday, March 30, 20:00 hrs
„Von den höchsten Energien zu den kleinsten Teilchen: dem Urknall auf der Spur“ (From highest energies to smallest particles: Tracking down the Big Bang)
Prof. Dr. Thomas Müller
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Building 30.21, Gerthsen-Hörsaal
Engesserstraße 9, Karlsruhe
Admittance will be free.

Further Information:
The proceedings comprise about 1000 contributions. Journalists will find an overview at:

Being “The Research University in the Helmholtz Association”, KIT creates and imparts knowledge for the society and the environment. It is the objective to make significant contributions to the global challenges in the fields of energy, mobility, and information. For this, about 9,600 employees cooperate in a broad range of disciplines in natural sciences, engineering sciences, economics, and the humanities and social sciences. KIT prepares its 23,300 students for responsible tasks in society, industry, and science by offering research-based study programs. Innovation efforts at KIT build a bridge between important scientific findings and their application for the benefit of society, economic prosperity, and the preservation of our natural basis of life. KIT is one of the German universities of excellence.

jh, 22.03.2011


Monika Landgraf
Head of Corporate Communications, Chief Press Officer
Phone: +49 721 608-41150
Fax: +49 721 608-43658
presseKvo9∂kit edu

Contact for this press release:

Inge Arnold
Presse, Kommunikation und Marketing (PKM)
Phone: +49 721 608-22861
Fax: +49 721 608-25080
inge arnoldXan9∂kit edu

The press release is available as a PDF file.