Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lattice 2010, Days Two and Three

Yesterday was an all-parallels day, so there are no plenary talks to summarise. In the evening there was the poster session.

The internet connection at the resort does not really have the capacity to deal with 360 computational physicist all reading their email, checking on their running computer jobs, browsing the hep-lat arXiv or writing their blog at the same time; this may lead to late updates from me, so please be patient.

Today's first plenary session was the traditional non-lattice plenary. The first talk was by Eytan Domany, who spoke about the challenges posed to computational science by the task of understanding the human genome. A large part of his talk was an introduction to the biological concepts involved, such as DNA, chromosomes, genes, RNA, transcription, transcription factors, ribosomes, gene expression, exons, introns, "junk" DNA, regulation networks and epigenetics. These days, it is possible to analyse the expression of thousands of genes in a sample by means of a single chip, and the data obtained by performing this kind of analysis on large numbers of samples (e.g. from different kinds of cells or from different patients) can be seen as an expression matrix with rows for genes and columns for samples. The difficult task is then to use this kind of large data matrix to infer regulation networks or connections between gene expression and phenotypes. Apparently, there are physicists working in this area together with the biologists, bringing in their computational expertise.

The second plenary talk was an LHC status summary given by Slawek Tkaczyk. The history of the LHC is of course well known to readers of this blog; so far, the first data are being analysed to "rediscover" the Standard Model with the aim of discovering new physics in the not too distant future, but there was no evidence of e.g. the Higgs or SUSY shown (yet?).

The second plenary session was devoted to non-QCD lattice simulations. The first talk was Renate Loll speaking on Lattice Quantum Gravity, specifically on causal dynamical triangulations. This approach to Quantum Gravity starts from the path integral for the Einstein-Hilbert action of General Relativity and regularises it by replacing continuous spacetime with a discrete triangulation. The discrete spacetime is then a simplicial complex satisfying certain additional requirements, and the Wick-rotated path integral can be treated using Monte Carlo techniques. In one phase of the (three-parameter) theory, the macroscopic structure of the resulting spacetime has been found to agree with de Sitter-space. Another surprising and interesting result of this approach has been that the spectral dimension associated with the diffusion of particles on the discrete spacetime is continuously going from around 2 at short (Plackian) to 4 at large distances.

Next was a talk on exact lattice SUSY by Simon Catterall. Normally, a lattice regularisation completely ruins supersymmetry, but theorists have found a way to formulate certain classes of supersymmetric theories (including N=4 Super-Yang-Mills) on a special kind of lattice, giving a local, gauge-invariant action with a doubler-free fermion formulation. This may offer a chance to study quantum gravity by simulations of lattice SUSY via the AdS/CFT correspondence.

In the afternoon there were excursions. I had signed up to the only excursion for which places were still available, which was a tour of a Sardinian winery with a wine tasting. The tour was not too interesting, as everything was very technologically modern, and as somebody said, we can go and look at the LHC if we want to see modern technology. The wines tasted were very nice, though.