Area(s) of Expertise
- Experimental Particle Physics
Professor Swain is an experimental high energy physicist with a strong interest in related theory. He is involved in three major experiments:.
1. L3 at the LEP accelerator in CERN, Geneva, Switzerland: The Large Electron-Positron collider (LEP) collides electrons and positrons (antimatter counterparts of electrons) in order to probe the structure of matter and its interactions at the highest possible energies. Using the L3 detector, the group tries to reconstruct what happens in these collisions, with a special emphasis on understanding how two seemingly disparate forces, electromagnetism and the weak interaction, can be seen as different aspects of the same thing. Much of the group’s work has been centered on this physics, especially using the tau lepton, a mysterious heavy cousin of the electron, the reason for whose existence we have, as yet, not the slightest idea.
2. CMS at the LEP accelerator in CERN, Geneva, Switzerland: The Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is planned to run after LEP in the early part of the next century and will extend the group’s search into the nature of matter and enable them to address the fundamental question of the origin of mass, and test many theoretical ideas including supersymmetry. Involvements include software and simulation, physics studies, and research and development for the electromagnetic calorimeter readout.
3. The Pierre Auger Project: Together with colleagues from Argentina, the group has been looking at applications of high energy physics to cosmic ray astrophysics. In particular, the observation of cosmic rays of extremely high energy (far greater than that of any terrestrial accelerator) poses a great mystery, with no plausible mechanism known for their acceleration. This work is both theoretical in a general framework, and tied to the Pierre Auger Project which consists of giant observatories to be built in Argentina and Utah.