BS in Math and Physics, University of Idaho MS in Physics, Texas A&M University Working on a PhD in Theoretical Nuclear Physics at Texas A&M University
Theoretical Nuclear Physics: Theoretical means I do physics on paper and in computers. Nuclear means that 1) I have 1000's of particles, 2) the energy and/or density is high (as dense as nuclei, enough energy to resolve 1 fm sized objects or higher), and 3) particles are any or all of nucleons (protons, neutrons, higher mass unstable baryons), mesons, quarks, and gluons.
My project is to examine the momentum dependence of the ccbar meson spectral function in quark gluon plasma (QGP). Let me break that down after your eyes glazed over for a minute. Einstein told us that physics is invariant regardless of an observer's frame of reference. So, a ccbar meson (mesons made of charm and anti-charm quarks, J/Psi, etac, chic...) in vacuum will have the mass and width regardless of who is observing and how fast they are traveling relative to each other. When you place the meson in the QGP, the plasma now defines a preferred frame of reference. With that, the meson's mass and width acquire momentum dependence. This is a question that has been explored by lattice QCD and effects the predictions of other theories. The reason for ccbar is that it is the lightest, and thus most abundant, particle that can survive the QGP for any substantial amount of time making it a useful probe of the QGP. Charm quarks are only made in the intial hard interaction of two nuclei, so they can probe the whole lifetime of the QGP.