Science Journey: Bringing Imbalance to the Universe
PhD '23, Physics
This is more than a physics lecture. It's a story of curiosity and the wonder of science, peppered with personal tales, glimpses into Caltech labs, and memories of inspirational moments, from The Magic School Bus to Star Wars.
About the Topic
Particle Physics • Quantum Science
The origins of the universe remain a mystery. Our current laws of physics can't explain why the universe is mostly matter: particles that make up everything around us, from human beings to planets and stars. Physics tells us that the Big Bang should have produced equal parts matter and its counterpart anti-matter. Yet for life to exist, there must have been an imbalance of the two when the universe came into existence even though matter and anti-matter annihilate into energy when they combine. To try to explain this imbalance, or asymmetry, physicists have proposed the existence of new, undiscovered particles and forces that can interfere with the symmetry between matter and anti-matter.
In my research I conduct experiments to search for these new particles and physical forces using ultra-cold, "polar" molecules that have a positive charge on one end and a negative charge on the other. Using lasers and electromagnetic fields, we can manipulate these molecules and perform precise measurements of their structure. These measurements look for small asymmetries, such of those that might show the electron's charge is lopsided. These asymmetries could be a sign of new physics that is responsible for the imbalance of matter and anti-matter—which, in turn, is partly responsible for our existence.
About the Speaker
Arian Jadbabaie was a graduate student in the lab of Nick Hutzler, assistant professor of physics, when he recorded his Science Journey. He has since graduated with his PhD from Caltech. He was born in Iran, grew up in Connecticut, earned his undergraduate degree in physics at Washington University in St. Louis, and served as an intern at both Brookhaven National Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory during a gap year before coming to Caltech. Jadbabaie is passionate about science outreach and sharing the wonders of the universe. He has volunteered at numerous science nights for a variety of schools across Pasadena, as well as at the Caltech Science for March and other outreach events. In his free time, Jadbabaie enjoys connecting with nature, reading, gaming, exploring Los Angeles, going to the beach, and experiencing live music.
Interested in diving deeper into some of the topics discussed in this presentation? Arian and the Science Journeys staff recommend the following:
- Movie: Cosmic Voyage, IMAX
- Interactive website: The Scale of the Universe
- YouTube: Videos about physics and philosophy from scientist and communicator Sean Carroll
- Caltech Science Exchange: Quantum Science
About the Series
In Science Journeys, Caltech graduate students and postdoctoral scholars share their research to inspire scientific curiosity. Programs are designed for middle and high schoolers, but all are welcome.
These programs are made possible through the generosity of the Friends of Beckman Auditorium and cosponsor Caltech Employees Federal Credit Union.
If you have questions, please email Mary Herrera at email@example.com.