Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Fundamental Parameters from Lattice QCD, Day Two

This morning, we started with a talk by Taku Izubuchi, who reviewed the lattice efforts relating to the hadronic contributions to the anomalous magnetic moment (g-2) of the muon. While the QED and electroweak contributions to (g-2) are known to great precision, most of the theoretical uncertainty presently comes from the hadronic (i.e. QCD) contributions, of which there are two that are relevant at the present level of precision: the contribution from the hadronic vacuum polarization, which can be inserted into the leading-order QED correction, and the contribution from hadronic light-by-light scattering, which can be inserted between the incoming external photon and the muon line. There are a number of established methods for computing the hadronic vacuum polarization, both phenomenologically using a dispersion relation and the experimental R-ratio, and in lattice field theory by computing the correlator of two vector currents (which can, and needs to, be refined in various way in order to achieve competitive levels of precision). No such well-established methods exist yet for the light-by-light scattering, which is so far mostly described using models. There are however, now efforts from a number of different sides to tackle this contribution; Taku mainly presented the appproach by the RBC/UKQCD collaboration, which uses stochastic sampling of the internal photon propagators to explicitly compute the diagrams contributing to (g-2). Another approach would be to calculate the four-point amplitude explicitly (which has recently been done for the first time by the Mainz group) and to decompose this into form factors, which can then be integrated to yield the light-by-light scattering contribution to (g-2).

The second talk of the day was given by Petros Dimopoulos, who reviewed lattice determinations of D and B leptonic decays and mixing. For the charm quark, cut-off effects appear to be reasonably well-controlled with present-day lattice spacings and actions, and the most precise lattice results for the D and Ds decay constants claim sub-percent accuracy. For the b quark, effective field theories or extrapolation methods have to be used, which introduces a source of hard-to-assess theoretical uncertainty, but the results obtained from the different approaches generally agree very well amongst themselves. Interestingly, there does not seem to be any noticeable dependence on the number of dynamical flavours in the heavy-quark flavour observables, as Nf=2 and Nf=2+1+1 results agree very well to within the quoted precisions.

In the afternoon, the CKMfitter collaboration split off to hold their own meeting, and the lattice participants met for a few one-on-one or small-group discussions of some topics of interest.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Fundamental Parameters from Lattice QCD, Day One

Greetings from Mainz, where I have the pleasure of covering a meeting for you without having to travel from my usual surroundings (I clocked up more miles this year already than can be good from my environmental conscience).

Our Scientific Programme (which is the bigger of the two formats of meetings that the Mainz Institute of Theoretical Physics (MITP) hosts, the smaller being Topical Workshops) started off today with two keynote talks summarizing the status and expectations of the FLAG (Flavour Lattice Averaging Group, presented by Tassos Vladikas) and CKMfitter (presented by Sébastien Descotes-Genon) collaborations. Both groups are in some way in the business of performing weighted averages of flavour physics quantities, but of course their backgrounds, rationale and methods are quite different in many regards. I will no attempt to give a line-by-line summary of the talks or the afternoon discussion session here, but instead just summarize a few
points that caused lively discussions or seemed important in some other way.

By now, computational resources have reached the point where we can achieve such statistics that the total error on many lattice determinations of precision quantities is completely dominated by systematics (and indeed different groups would differ at the several-σ level if one were to consider only their statistical errors). This may sound good in a way (because it is what you'd expect in the limit of infinite statistics), but it is also very problematic, because the estimation of systematic errors is in the end really more of an art than a science, having a crucial subjective component at its heart. This means not only that systematic errors quoted by different groups may not be readily comparable, but also that it become important how to treat systematic errors (which may also be correlated, if e.g. two groups use the same one-loop renormalization constants) when averaging different results. How to do this is again subject to subjective choices to some extent. FLAG imposes cuts on quantities relating to the most important sources of systematic error (lattice spacings, pion mass, spatial volume) to select acceptable ensembles, then adds the statistical and systematic errors in quadrature, before performing a weighted average and computing the overall error taking correlations between different results into account using Schmelling's procedure. CKMfitter, on the other hand, adds all systematic errors linearly, and uses the Rfit procedure to perform a maximum likelihood fit. Either choice is equally permissible, but they are not directly compatible (so CKMfitter can't use FLAG averages as such).

Another point raised was that it is important for lattice collaborations computing mixing parameters to not just provide products like fB√BB, but also fB and BB separately (as well as information about the correlation between these quantities) in order to help making the global CKM fits easier.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

LATTICE 2015, Day Five

In a marked deviation from the "standard programme" of the lattice conference series, Saturday started off with parallel sessions, one of which featured my own talk.

The lunch break was relatively early, therefore, but first we all assembled in the plenary hall for the conference group photo (a new addition to the traditions of the lattice conference), and was followed by afternoon plenary sessions. The first of these was devoted to finite temperature and density, and started with Harvey Meyer giving the review talk on finite-temperature lattice QCD. The thermodynamic properties of QCD are by now relatively well-known: the transition temperature is agreed to be around 155 MeV, chiral symmetry restoration and the deconfinement transition coincide (as well as that can defined in the case of a crossover), and the number of degrees of freedom is compatible with a plasma of quarks and gluons above the transition, but the thermodynamic potentials approach the Stefan-Boltzmann limit only slowly, indicating that there are strong correlations in the medium. Below the transition, the hadron resonance gas model describes the data well. The Columbia plot describing the nature of the transition as a function of the light and strange quark masses is being further solidified: the size of the lower-left hand corner first-order region is being measured, and the nature of the left-hand border (most likely O(4) second-order) is being explored. Beyond these static properties, real-time properties are beginning to be studied through the finite-temperature spectral functions. One interesting point was that there is a difference between the screening masses (spatial correlation lengths) and quasiparticle masses (from the spectral function) in any given channel, which may even tend in opposite directions as functions of the temperature (as seen for the pion channel).

Next, Szabolcs Borsanyi spoke about fluctuations of conserved charges at finite temperature and density. While of course the sum of all outcoming conserved charges in a collision must equal the sum of the ingoing ones, when considering a subvolume of the fireball, this can be best described in the grand canonical ensemble, as charges can move into and out of the subvolume. The quark number susceptibilities are then related to the fluctuating phase of the fermionic determinant. The methods being used to avoid the sign problem include Taylor expansions, fugacity expansions and simulations at imaginary chemical potential, all with their own strengths and weaknesses. Fluctuations can be used as a thermometer to measure the freeze-out temperature.

Lastly, Luigi Scorzato reviewed the Lefschetz thimble, which may be a way out of the sign problem (e.g. at finite chemical potential). The Lefschetz thimble is a higher-dimensional generalization of the concept of steepest-descent integration, in which the integral of eS(z) for complex S(z) is evaluated by finding the stationary points of S and integrating along the curves passing through them along which the imaginary part of S is constant. On such Lefschetz thimbles, a Langevin algorithm can be defined, allowing for a Monte Carlo evaluation of the path integral in terms of Lefschetz thimbles. In quantum-mechanical toy models, this seems to work already, and there appears hope that this might be a way to avoid the sign problem of finite-density QCD.

After the coffee break, the last plenary session turned to physics beyond the Standard Model. Daisuke Kadoh reviewed the progress in putting supersymmetry onto the lattice, which is still a difficult problem due to the fact that the finite differences which replace derivatives on a lattice do not respect the Leibniz rule, introducing SUSY-breaking terms when discretizing. The ways past this are either imposing exact lattice supersymmetries or fine-tuning the theory so as to remove the SUSY-breaking in the continuum limit. Some theories in both two and four dimensions have been simulated successfully, including N=1 Super-Yang-Mills theory in four dimensions. Given that there is no evidence for SUSY in nature, lattice SUSY is of interesting especially for the purpose of verifying the ideas of gauge-dravity duality from the Super-Yang-Mills side, and in one and two dimensions, agreement with the predictions from gauge-gravity duality has been found.

The final plenary speaker was Anna Hasenfratz, who reviewed Beyond-the-Standard-Model calculations in technicolor-like theories. If the Higgs is to be a composite particle, there must be some spontaneously broken symmetry that keeps it light, either a flavour symmetry (pions) or a scale symmetry (dilaton). There are in fact a number of models that have a light scalar particle, but the extrapolation of these theories is rendered difficult by the fact that this scalar is (and for phenomenologically interesting models would have to be) lighter than the (techni-)pion, and thus the usual formalism of chiral perturbation theory may not work. Many models of strong BSM interactions have been and are being studied using a large number of different methods, with not always conclusive results. A point raised towards the end of the talk was that for theories with a conformal IR fixed-point, universality might be violated (and there are some indications that e.g. Wilson and staggered fermions seem to give qualitatively different behaviour for the beta function in such cases).

The conference ended with some well-deserved applause for the organizing team, who really ran the conference very smoothly even in the face of a typhoon. Next year's lattice conference will take place in Southampton (England/UK) from 24th to 30th July 2016. Lattice 2017 will take place in Granada (Spain).

Friday, July 17, 2015

LATTICE 2015, Days Three and Four

Due to the one-day shift of the entire conference programme relative to other years, Thursday instead of Wednesday was the short day. In the morning, there were parallel sessions. The most remarkable thing to be reported from those (from my point of view) is that MILC are generating a=0.03 fm lattices now, which handily beats the record for the finest lattice spacing; they are observing some problems with the tunnelling of the topological charge at such fine lattices, but appear hopeful that they can be useful.

After the lunch break, excursions were offered. I took the trip to Himeji to see Himeji Castle, a very remarkable five-story wooden building that due to its white exterior is also known the "White Heron Castle". During the trip, typhoon Nangka approached, so the rains cut our enjoyment of the castle park a bit short (though seeing koi in a pond with the rain falling into it had a certain special appeal to it, the enjoyment of which I in my Western ignorance suppose might be considered a form of Japanese wabi aesthetics).

As the typhoon resolved into a rainstorm, the programme wasn't cancelled or changed, and so today's plenary programme started with a talk on some formal developments in QFT by Mithat Ünsal, who reviewed trans-series, Lefschetz thimbles, and Borel summability as different sides of the same coin. I'm far too ignorant of these more formal field theory topics to do them justice, so I won't try a detailed summary. Essentially, it appears that the expansion of certain theories around the saddle points corresponding to instantons is determined by their expansion around the trivial vacuum, and the ambiguities arising in the Borel resummation of perturbative series when the Borel transform has a pole on the positive real axis can in some way be connected to this phenomenon, which may allow for a way to resolve the ambiguities.

Next, Francesco Sannino spoke about the "bright, dark, and safe" sides of the lattice. The bright side referred to the study of visible matter, in particular to the study of technicolor models as a way of implementing the spontaneous breaking of electroweak symmetry, without the need for a fundamental scalar introducing numerous tunable parameters, and with the added benefits of removing the hierarchy problem and the problem of φ4 triviality. The dark side referred to the study of dark matter in the context of composite dark matter theories, where one should remember that if the visible 5% of the mass of the universe require three gauge groups for their description, the remaining 95% are unlikely to be described by a single dark matter particle and a homogeneous dark energy. The safe side referred to the very current idea of asymptotic safety, which is of interest especially in quantum gravity, but might also apply to some extension of the Standard Model, making it valid at all energy scales.

After the coffee break, the traditional experimental talk was given by Toru Iijima of the Belle II collaboration. The Belle II detector is now beginning commissioning at the upcoming SuperKEKB accelerator, which will greatly improved luminosity to allow for precise tests of the Standard Model in the flavour sector. In this, Belle II will be complementary to LHCb, because it will have far lower backgrounds allowing for precision measurements of rare processes, while not being able to access as high energies. Most of the measurements planned at Belle II will require lattice inputs to interpret, so there is a challenge to our community to come up with sufficiently precise and reliable predictions for all required flavour observables. Besides quark flavour physics, Belle II will also search for lepton flavour violation in τ decays, try to improve the phenomenological prediction for (g-2)μ by measuring the cross section for e+e- -> hadrons more precisely, and search for exotic charmonium- and bottomonium-like states.

Closely related was the next talk, a review of progress in heavy flavour physics on the lattice given by Carlos Pena. While simulations of relativistic b quarks at the physical mass will become a possibility in the not-too-distant future, for the time being heavy-quark physics is still dominated by the use of effective theories (HQET and NRQCD) and methods based either on appropriate extrapolations from the charm quark mass region, or on the Fermilab formalism, which is sort of in-between. For the leptonic decay constants of heavy-light mesons, there are now results from all formalisms, which generally agree very well with each other, indicating good reliability. For the semileptonic form factors, there has been a lot of development recently, but to obtain precision at the 1% level, good control of all systematics is needed, and this includes the momentum-dependence of the form factors. The z-expansion, and extended versions thereof allowing for simultaneous extrapolation in the pion mass and lattice spacing, has the advantage of allowing for a test of its convergence properties by checking the unitarity bound on its coefficients.

After the coffee break, there were parallel sessions again. In the evening, the conference banquet took place. Interestingly, the (excelleent) food was not Japanese, but European (albeit with a slight Japanese twist in seasoning and presentation).

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

LATTICE 2015, Day Two

Hello again from Lattice 2015 in Kobe. Today's first plenary session began with a review talk on hadronic structure calculations on the lattice given by James Zanotti. James did an excellent job summarizing the manifold activities in this core area of lattice QCD, which is also of crucial phenomenological importance given situations such as the proton radius puzzle. It is now generally agreed that excited-state effects are one of the more important issues facing hadron structure calculations, especially in the nucleon sector, and that these (possibly together with finite-volume effects) are likely responsible for the observed discrepancies between theory and experiment for quantities such as the axial charge of the nucleon. Many groups are studying the charges and form factors of the nucleon, and some have moved on to more complicated quantities, such as transverse momentum distributions. Newer ideas in the field include the use of the Feynman-Hellmann theorem to access quantities that are difficult to access through the traditional three-point-over-two-point ratio method, such as form factors at very high momentum transfer, and quantities with disconnected diagrams (such as nucleon strangeness form factors).

Next was a review of progress in light flavour physics by Andreas Jüttner, who likewise gave an excellent overview of this also phenomenologically very important core field. Besides the "standard" quantities, such as the leptonic pion and kaon decay constants and the semileptonic K-to-pi form factors, more difficult light-flavour quantities are now being calculated, including the bag parameter BK and other quantities related to both Standard Model and BSM neutral kaon mixing, which require the incorporation of long-distance effects, including those from charm quarks. Given the emergence of lattice ensembles at the physical pion mass, the analysis strategies of groups are beginning to change, with the importance of global ChPT fits receding. Nevertheless, the lattice remains important in determining the low-energy constants of Chiral Perturbation Theory. Some groups are also using newer theoretical developments to study quantities once believed to be outside the purview of lattice QCD, such as final-state photon corrections to meson decays, or the timelike pion form factor.

After the coffee break, the Ken Wilson Award for Excellence in Lattice Field Theory was announced. The award goes to Stefan Meinel for his substantial and timely contributions to our understanding of the physics of the bottom quark using lattice QCD. In his acceptance talk, Stefan reviewed his recent work on determining |Vub|/|Vcb| from decays of Λb baryons measured by the LHCb collaboration. There has long been a discrepancy between the inclusive and exclusive (from B -> πlν) determinations of Vub, which might conceivably be due to a new (BSM) right-handed coupling. Since LHCb measures the decay widths for Λb to both pμν and Λcμν, combining these with lattice determinations of the corresponding Λb form factors allows for a precise determination of |Vub|/|Vcb|. The results agree well with the exclusive determination from B -> πlν, and fully agree with CKM unitarity. There are, however, still other channels (such as b -> sμ+μ- and b -> cτν) in which there is still potential for new physics, and LHCb measurements are pending.

This was followed by a talk by Maxwell T. Hansen (now a postdoc at Mainz) on three-body observables from lattice QCD. The well-known Lüscher method relates two-body scattering amplitudes to the two-body energy levels in a finite volume. The basic steps in the derivation are to express the full momentum-space propagator in terms of a skeleton expansion involving the two-particle irreducible Bethe-Salpeter kernel, to express the difference between the two-particle reducible loops in finite and infinite volume in terms of two-particle cuts, and to reorganize the skeleton expansion by the number of cuts to reveal that the poles of the propagator (i.e. the energy levels) in finite volume are related to the scattering matrix. For three-particle systems, the skeleton expansion becomes more complicated, since there can now be situations involving two-particle interactions and a spectator particle, and intermediate lines can go on-shell between different two-particle interactions. Treating a number of other technical issues such as cusps, Max and collaborators have been able to derive a Lüscher-like formula three-body scattering in the case of scalar particles with a Z2 symmetry forbidding 2-to-3 couplings. Various generalizations remain to be explored.

The day's plenary programme ended with a talk on the Standard Model prediction for direct CP violation in K-> ππ decays by Christopher Kelly. This has been an enormous effort by the RBC/UKQCD collaboration, who have shown that the ΔI=1/2 rule comes from low-energy QCD by way of strong cancellations between the dominant contributions, and have determined ε' from the lattice for the first time. This required the generation of ensembles with an unusual set of boundary conditions (G-parity boundary conditions on the quarks, requiring complex conjugation boundary conditions on the gauge fields) in space to enforce a moving pion ground state, as well as the precise evaluation of difficult disconnected diagrams using low modes and stochastic estimators, and treatment of finite-volume effects in the Lellouch-Lüscher formalism. Putting all of this together with the non-perturbative renormalization (in the RI-sMOM scheme) of ten operators in the electroweak Hamiltonian gives a result which currently still has three times the experimental error, but is systematically improvable, with better-than-experimental precision expected in maybe five years.

In the afternoon there were parallel sessions again, and in the evening, the poster session took place. Food ran out early, but it was pleasant to see free-form smearing begin improved upon and used to very good effect by Randy Lewis, Richard Woloshyn and students.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

LATTICE 2015, Day One

Hello from Kobe, where I am attending the Lattice 2015 conference. The trip here was uneventful, as was the jetlag-day.

The conference started yesterday evening with a reception in the Kobe Animal Kingdom (there were no animals when we were there, though, with the exception of some fish in a pond and some cats in a cage, but there were lot of plants).

Today, the scientific programme began with the first plenary session. After a welcome address by Akira Ukawa, who reminded us of the previous lattice meetings held in Japan and the tremendous progress the field has made in the intervening twelve years, Leonardo Giusti gave the first plenary talk, speaking about recent progress on chiral symmetry breaking. Lattice results have confirmed the proportionality of the square of the pion mass to the quark mass (i.e. the Gell-Mann-Oakes-Renner (GMOR) relation, a hallmark of chiral symmetry breaking) very accurately for a long time. Another relation involving the chiral condensate is the Banks-Casher relation, which relates it to the eigenvalue density of the Dirac operator at zero. It can be shown that the eigenvalue density is renormalizable, and that thus the mode number in a given interval is renormalization-group invariant. Two recent lattice studies, one with twisted-mass fermions and one with O(a)-improved Wilson fermions, confirm the Banks-Casher relation, with the chiral condensates found agreeing very well with those inferred from GMOR. Another relation is the Witten-Veneziano relation, which relates the η' mass to the topological susceptibility, thus explaining how precisely the η' is not a Goldstone boson. The topological charge on the lattice can be defined through the index of the Neuberger operator or through chain of spectral porjectors, but a recently invented and much cheaper definition is through the topological charge density at finite flow time in Lüscher's Wilson flow formalism. The renormalization properties of the Wilson flow allow for a derivation of the universality of the topological susceptibility, and numerical tests using all three definitions indeed agree within errors in the continuum limit. Higher cumulants determined in the Wilson flow formalism agree with large-Nc predictions in pure Yang-Mills, and the suppression of the topological susceptibility in QCD relative to the pure Yang-Mills case is in line with expectations (which in principle can be considered an a posteriori determination of Nf in agreement with the value used in simulations).

The next speaker was Yu Nakayama, who talked about a related topic, namely the determination of the chiral phase transition in QCD from the conformal bootstrap. The chiral phase transition can be studied in the framework of a Landau effective theory in three dimensions. While the mean-field theory predicts a second-order phase transition in the O(4) universality class, one-loop perturbation theory in 4-ε dimensions predicts a first-order phase transition at ε=1. Making use of the conformal symmetry of the effective theory, one can apply the conformal bootstrap method, which combines an OPE with crossing relations to obtain results for critical exponents, and the results from this method suggest that the phase transition is in fact of second order. This also agrees with many lattice studies, but others disagree. The role of the anomalously broken U(1)A symmetry in this analysis appears to be unclear.

After the coffee break, Tatsumi Aoyama, a long-time collaborator in the heroic efforts of Kinoshita to calculate the four- and five-loop QED contributions to the electron and muon anomalous moments, gave a plenary talk on the determination of the QED contribution to lepton (g-2). For likely readers of this blog, the importance of (g-2) is unlikely to require an explanation: the current 3σ tension between theory and experiment for (g-2)μ is the strongest hint of physics beyond the Standard Model so far, and since the largest uncertainties on the theory side are hadronic, lattice QCD is challenged to either resolve the tension or improve the accuracy of the predictions to the point where the tension becomes an unambiguous, albeit indirect, discovery of new physics. The QED calculations are on the face of it simpler, being straightforward Feynman diagram evaluations. However, the number of Feynman diagrams grows so quickly at higher orders that automated methods are required. In fact, in a first step, the number of Feynman diagrams is reduced by using the Ward-Takahashi identity to relate the vertex diagrams relevant to (g-2) to self-energy diagrams, which are then subjected to an automated renormalization procedure using the Zimmermann forest formula. In a similar way, infrared divergences are subtracted using a more complicated "annotated forest"-formula (there are two kinds of IR subtractions needed, so the subdiagrams in a forest need to be labelled with the kind of subtraction). The resulting UV- and IR-finite integrands are then integrated using VEGAS in Feynman parameter space. In order to maintain the required precision, quadruple-precision floating-point numbers (or an emulation thereof) must be used. Whether these methods could cope with the six-loop QED contribution is not clear, but with the current and projected experimental errors, that contribution will not be required for the foreseeable future, anyway.

This was followed by another (g-2)-related plenary, with Taku Izubichi speaking about the determination of anomalous magnetic moments and nucleon electric dipole moments in QCD. In particular the anomalous magnetic moment has become such an active topic recently that the time barely sufficed to review all of the activity in this field, which ranges from different approaches to parameterizing the momentum dependence of the hadronic vacuum polarization, through clever schemes to reduce the noise by subtracting zero-momentum contributions, to new ways of extracting the vacuum polarization through the use of background magnetic fields, as well as simulations of QCD+QED on the lattice. Among the most important problems are finite-volume effects.

After the lunch break, there were parallel sessions in the afternoon. I got to chair the first session on hadron structure, which was devoted to determinations of hadronic contributions to (g-2)μ.

After the coffee break, there were more parallel sessions, another complete one of which was devoted to (g-2) and closely-related topics. A talk deserving to be highlighted was given by Jeremy Green, who spoke about the first direct calculation of the hadronic light-to-light scattering amplitude from lattice QCD.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Workshop "Fundamental Parameters from Lattice QCD" at MITP (upcoming deadline)

Recent years have seen a significant increase in the overall accuracy of lattice QCD calculations of various hadronic observables. Results for quark and hadron masses, decay constants, form factors, the strong coupling constant and many other quantities are becoming increasingly important for testing the validity of the Standard Model. Prominent examples include calculations of Standard Model parameters, such as quark masses and the strong coupling constant, as well as the determination of CKM matrix elements, which is based on a variety of input quantities from experiment and theory. In order to make lattice QCD calculations more accessible to the entire particle physics community, several initiatives and working groups have sprung up, which collect the available lattice results and produce global averages.

The scientific programme "Fundamental Parameters from Lattice QCD" at the Mainz Institute of Theoretical Physics (MITP) is designed to bring together lattice practitioners with members of the phenomenological and experimental communities who are using lattice estimates as input for phenomenological studies. In addition to sharing the expertise among several communities, the aim of the programme is to identify key quantities which allow for tests of the CKM paradigm with greater accuracy and to discuss the procedures in order to arrive at more reliable global estimates.

The deadline for registration is Wednesday, 15 April 2015. Please register at this link.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

QNP 2015, Day Five

Apologies for the delay in posting this. Travel and jetlag kept me from attending to it earlier.

The first talk today was by Guy de Teramond, who described applications of light-front superconformal quantum mechanics to hadronic physics. I have to admit that I couldn't fully take in all the details, but as far as I understood an isomorphy between AdS2 and the conformal group in one dimension can be used to derive a form of the light-front Hamiltonian for mesons from an AdS/QCD correspondence, in which the dilaton field is fixed to be φ(z)=1/2 z2 by the requirement of conformal invariance, and a similar construction in the superconformal case leads to a light-front Hamiltonian for baryons. A relationship between the Regge trajectories for mesons and baryons can then be interpreted as a form of supersymmetry in this framework.

Next was Beatriz Gay Ducati with a review of the pheonomenology of heavy quarks in nuclear matter, a topic where there are still many open issues. The photoproduction of quarkonia on nucleons and nuclei allows to probe the gluon distribution, since the dominant production process is photon-gluon fusion, but to be able to interpret the data, many nuclear matter effects need to be understood.

After the coffee break, this was followed by a talk by Hrayr Matevosyan on transverse momentum distributions (TMDs), which are complementary to GPDs in the sense of being obtained by integrating out other variables starting from the full Wigner distributions. Here, again, there are many open issues, such as the Sivers, Collins or Boer-Mulders effects.

The next speaker was Raju Venugopalan, who spoke about two outstanding problems in QCD at high parton densities, namely the question of how the systems created in heavy-ion collisions thermalise, and the phenomenon of "the ridge" in proton-nucleus collisions, which would seem to suggest hydrodynamic behaviour in a system that is too small to be understood as a liquid. Both problems may have to do with the structure of the dense initial state, which is theorised to be a colour-glass condensate or "glasma", and the way in which it evolves into a more dilute system.

After the lunch break, Sonny Mantry reviewed some recent advances made in applying Soft-Collinear Effective Theory (SCET) to a range of questions in strong-interaction physics. SCET is the effective field theory obtained when QCD fluctuations around a hard particle momentum are considered to be small and a corresponding expansion (analogous to the 1/m expansion in HQET) is made. SCET has been successfully applied to many different problems; an interesting and important one is the problem of relating the "Monte Carlo mass" usually quoted for the top quark to the top quark mass in a more well-defined scheme such as MSbar.

The last talk in the plenary programme was a review of the Electron-Ion Collider (EIC) project by Zein-Eddine Meziani. By combining the precision obtainable using an electron beam with the access to the gluon-dominated regime provided by a havy ion beam, as well as the ability to study the nucleon spin using a polarised nucleon beam, the EIC will enable a much more in-depth study of many of the still unresolved questions in QCD, such as the nucleon spin structure and colour distributions. There are currently two competing designs, the eRHIC at Brookhaven, and the MEIC at Jefferson Lab.

Before the conference closed, Michel Garçon announced that the next conference of the series (QNP 2018) will be held in Japan (either in Tsukuba or in Mito, Ibaraki prefecture). The local organising committee and conference office staff received some well-deserved applause for a very smoothly-run conference, and the scientific part of the conference programme was adjourned.

As it was still in the afternoon, I went with some colleagues to visit La Sebastiana, the house of Pablo Neruda in Valparaíso, taking one of the city's famous ascensores down (although up might have been more convenient, as the streets get very steep) before walking back to Viña del Mar along the sea coast.

The next day, there was an organised excursion to a vineyard in the Casablanca valley, where we got to taste some very good Chilean wines (some of the them matured in traditional clay vats) and liqueurs with a very pleasant lunch.

I got to spend another day in Valparaíso before travelling back (a happily uneventful, if again rather long trip).

Friday, March 06, 2015

QNP 2015, Day Four

The first talk today was a review of experimental results in light-baryon spectroscopy by Volker Credé. While much progress has been made in this field, in particular in the design of so-called complete experiments, which as far as I understand measure multiple observables to unambiguously extract a complete description of the amplitudes for a certain process, there still seem to be surprisingly many unknowns. In particular, the fits to pion photoproduction in doubly-polarised processes seem to disagree strongly between different descriptions (such as MAID).

Next was Derek Leinweber with a review of light hadron spectroscopy from the lattice. The de facto standard method in this field is the variational method (GEVP), although there are some notable differences in how precisely different groups apply it (e.g. solving the GEVP at many times and fitting the eigenvalues vs. forming projected correlators with the eigenvectors of the GEVP solved at a single time -- there are proofs of good properties for the former that don't exist for the latter). The way in which the basis of operators for the GEVP is build is also quite different as used by different groups, ranging from simply using different levels of quark field smearing to intricate group-theoretic constructions of multi-site operators. There are also attempts to determine how much information can be extracted from a given set of correlators, e.g. recently by the Cyprus/Athens group using Monte Carlo simulations to probe the space of fitting parameters (a loosely related older idea based on evolutionary fits wasn't mentioned).

This was followed by a talk by Susan Gardner about testing fundamental symmetries with quarks. While we know that there must be physics beyond the Standard Model (because the SM does not explain dark matter, nor does it provide enough CP violation to explain the observed baryon asymmetry), there is so far no direct evidence of any BSM particle. Low-energy tests of the SM fall into two broad categories: null tests (where the SM predicts an exact null result, as for violations of B-L) and precision tests (where the SM prediction can be calculated to very high accuracy, as for (g-2)μ). Null tests play an important role in so far as they can be used to impose a lower limit for the BSM mass scale, but many of them are atomic or nuclear tests, which have complicated theory errors. The currently largest tensions indicating a possible failure of the Standard Model to describe all observations are the proton radius puzzle, and (g-2)μ. A possible explanation of either or both of those in terms of a "dark photon" is on the verge of being ruled out, however, since most of the relevant part of the mass/coupling plane has already been excluded by dark photon searches, and the rest of it will soon be (or else the dark photon will be discovered). Other tests in the hadronic sector, which seem to be less advanced so far, are the search for non-(V-A) terms in β-decays, and the search for neutron-antineutron oscillations.

After the coffee break and the official conference photo, Isaac Vidaña took the audience on a "half-hour walk through the physics of neutron stars". Neutron stars are both almost-black holes (whose gravitation must be described in General Relativity) and extremely massive nuclei (whose internal dynamics must be described using QCD). Observations of binary pulsars allow to determine the masses of neutron stars, which are found to range up to at least two solar masses. However, the Tolman-Oppenheimer-Volkov equations for the stability of neutron stars lead to a maximum mass for a neutron star that depends on the equation of state of the nuclear medium. The observed masses severely constrain the equation of state and in particular seem to exclude models in which hyperons play an important role; however, it seems to be generally agreed that hyperons must play an important role in neutron stars, leading to a "hyperon puzzle", the solution of which will require an improved understanding of the structure and interactions of hyperons.

The last plenary speaker of the day was Stanley Brodsky with the newest developments from light-front holography. The light-front approach, which has in the past been very successful in (1+1)-dimensional QCD, is based on the front form of the Hamiltonian formalism, in which a light-like, rather than a timelike, direction is chosen as the normal defining the Cauchy surfaces on which initial data are specified. In the light-front Hamiltonian approach, the vacuum of QCD is trivial and the Hilbert space can be constructed as a straightforward Fock space. With some additional ansätze taken from AdS/CFT ideas, QCD is reduced to a Schrödinger-like equation for the light-cone wavefunctions, from which observables are extracted. Apparently, all known observations are described perfectly in this approach, but (as for the Dyson-Schwinger or straight AdS/QCD approaches) I do not understand how systematic errors are supposed to be quantified.

In the afternoon there were parallel talks. An interesting contribution was given by Mainz PhD student Franziska Hagelstein, who demonstrated how even a very small non-monotonicity in the electric form factor at low Q2 (where there are no ep scattering data) could explain the difference between the muonic and electronic hydrogen results for the proton radius.

The conference banquet took place in the evening at a very nice restaurant, and fun was had over cocktails and an excellent dinner.