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Grid of eight physicists holding whiteboards with different physics questions
Photo by Sandbox Studio, Chicago

Unanswered questions

Do you think scientists have the answers to all the questions? As these researchers admit, there’s still so much to discover. Particle physics is brimming with mysteries and unknowns.

Bring hundreds of smart physicists together and what do you get? Lots of questions!

This summer, more than 700 particle physicists from nearly 100 universities and laboratories across the United States came together on the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus for the Snowmass Community Summer Study meeting. There, they discussed the decades ahead in US particle physics, carefully considering the next steps in their studies of energy, matter, space and time.

During coffee breaks, symmetry asked attendees to share open questions in particle physics. Here’s a sample of what particle physicists think about and what they hope to discover in the coming decades. (A poster of these questions is also available here.)

Photo of Steve Wimpenny holding whiteboard that says "What will be the fate of the universe?"
Steve Wimpenny
University of California, Riverside
Photo of Stefan Funk holding whiteboard that says "How much dark matter goes through me as you take this picture?"
Stefan Funk
SLAC/Stanford University
Photo of Robin Erbacher holding whiteboard that says "Is the Higgs alone? Does it have cousins?"
Robin Erbacher
University of California, Davis
Photo of Kevin Lesko holding whiteboard that says "How does the US maintain physics leadership?"
Kevin Lesko
Berkeley Lab
Photo of Erik Ramberg holding whiteboard that says "Why is the universe so exquisitely balanced such that life can exist?"
Erik Ramberg
Photo of Elizabeth Worcester holding whiteboard that says "What causes symmetries be broken?"
Elizabeth Worcester
Brookhaven National Lab
Photo of Kanika Sachdev holding whiteboard that says "Where do neutrons masses come from?"
Kanika Sachdev
University of Minnesota
Photo of James Matthews holding whiteboard that says "Where the heck do cosmic rays come from?"
James Matthews
Louisiana State University
Photo of Akiya Miyamoto and Hiroaki Ono holding whiteboard that says "Does US have interest in an ILC in Japan?"
Akiya Miyamoto
High Energy Accelerator Research Organization
Hiroaki Ono
Nippon Dental University
Photo of Jonathan Asaadi holding whiteboard that says "Where will the next big experiment be built?"
Jonathan Asaadi
Syracuse University
Photo of Herman White holding whiteboard that says "Are muons and electrons the same?"
Herman White
Photo of Chien-Yi Chen holding whiteboard that says "Is there only one Higgs Boson?"
Chien-Yi Chen
Brookhaven National Lab
Photo of Hao-Yi Wu holding whiteboard that says "What accelerates the universe?"
Hao-Yi Wu
University of Michigan
Photo of Inga Karliner holding whiteboard that says "What are dark matter and "dark energy" and why do we have muons?"
Inga Karliner
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Photo of Ian Shipsey holding whiteboard that says "What is the nature of the vacuum?"
Ian Shipsey
Purdue University
Photo of Richard Ruiz holding a whiteboard that says "The Higgs Boson makes absolutely no sense. Why does it exist?"
Richard Ruiz
University of Pittsburgh
Photo of Marcelle Soares-Santos "What is the mysterious Dark Energy that drives the accelerated expansion of our universe?"
Marcelle Soares-Santos
Photo of Ren-Yuan Zhu "What is the particle detector technology which will lead to a future discovery of particle physics?"
Ren-Yuan Zhu
Photo of Wade Fisher holding a whiteboard that says "Will education be our ultimate physics limitation?"
Wade Fisher
Michigan State University
Photo of Paul Lebrun holding a whiteboard that says "Can we make a scientific discovery through advanced computing?"
Paul Lebrun
Photo of Abigail Vieregg holding whiteboard that says "Where do astrophysical neutrinos come from?"
Abigail Vieregg
Harvard University
Photo of Altan Cakir holding whiteboard that says "Please tell me where can I find SUSY?"
Altan Cakir
Photo of Peter Onyisi holding a whiteboard that says "is the mass of the Higgs boson an accident, or necessary?"
Peter Onyisi
University of Texas, Austin
Photo of Brenda Dingus "How does Nature accelerate particles to millions of times higher energy than man-made accelerators?"
Brenda Dingus
Los Alamos National Lab
Photo of Pushpa Bhat "How do we keep the American dream alive? How do we shoot for the stars again?"
Pushpa Bhat
Photo of Gabe Shaughnessy holding whiteboard that says "Is there a connection between the Higgs boson and Dark Matter?"
Gabe Shaughnessy
University of Wisconsin
Photo of Alysia Marino holding whiteboard saying "How come the universe is made of matter (and not anti-matter)?"
Alysia Marino
University of Colorado
Photo of Prisca Cushman holding whiteboard saying "Why is Dark Matter?"
Prisca Cushman
University of Minnesota
Photo of girl holding a whiteboard that says "What is science for?"
Rebecca (age 4)
Daughter of Matthew Strait, University of Chicago
Photo of man holding a whiteboard that says "I love symmetry magazine"
Ian Shipsey
Purdue University


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