Probing the frontiers of particle physics with tabletop-scale experiments
The field of particle physics is in a peculiar state. The standard model of particle theory successfully describes every fundamental particle and force observed in laboratories, yet fails to explain properties of the universe such as the existence of dark matter, the amount of dark energy, and the preponderance of matter over antimatter. Huge experiments, of increasing scale and cost, continue to search for new particles and forces that might explain these phenomena. However, these frontiers also are explored in certain smaller, laboratory-scale “tabletop” experiments. This approach uses precision measurement techniques and devices from atomic, quantum, and condensed-matter physics to detect tiny signals due to new particles or forces. Discoveries in fundamental physics may well come first from small-scale experiments of this type.