Uploaded by Luke Kippenbrock

Future Research

Due to my knowledge and previous research in the field, I would like to continue to
perform research in nuclear physics. This subfield of physics continues to remain intriguing,
even as my understanding of the subject matter increases. Especially interesting is the increasing
use of computational physics to solve traditionally difficult problems.
In recent years, computational physics has emerged as a separate entity from the
traditional branches of experimental and theoretical physics. Its purpose is not to “crunch
numbers”, but to use its unique capabilities to gain new insights. Over the past decade,
computing power has increased at an enormous rate, allowing hitherto challenging problems to
be modeled and understood. Presently, the current use of supercomputers allows one to
understand physics not by looking at the studied object as a whole, but by building up the object
from the basic equations and physical principles.
The primary goal of most nuclear physicists is to arrive at a comprehensive and unified
microscopic description of all nuclei from the basic interactions between the constituent protons
and neutrons. My goal is to be able to gain enough understanding to be able to predict, rather
than just model, nuclear interactions. Currently, nuclear events at low energy and consisting of
light nuclei are relatively easy to describe. However, little work has been made with regard to an
effective model for heavy nuclei. The amount of calculations required for such large nuclei is
immense. Theorists working in atomic physics, condensed matter physics, and astrophysics face
a very similar challenge: how to describe, usually at the quantum level, the features of many
particle systems in terms of more basic interacting constituent particles.
My research this past summer was a first step in identifying a possible method to reduce
the difficulty of the nuclear interaction calculations while still retaining the focus on the basic
nucleon-nucleon interactions. I look forward to continuing this research in graduate school.
While my modeling was formerly limited due to the computing capabilities available to me, in
graduate school I hope to have access to powerful computers that can be used to further test and
refine my calculations, especially for higher energy seniority states and larger nuclei. Even if the
approximation techniques I have been working with end up disagreeing with experimental
findings, such a result would still have positive implications for the field. Any future research
would be aided by the knowledge that the possible choices for nucleon interactions in the
nucleus has been narrowed down.
With regard to the choice of a graduate school to continue my research, the physics
program at the University of Washington is a perfect fit for my research interests. The large
nuclear theory group conducts research in areas similar to my own research goals. Currently,
professors at the university are performing quantum many-body nuclear physics by developing
computational tools to understand nuclear reactions and using supercomputers to find numerical
solutions to otherwise undoable problems. By attending the University of Washington, I would
easily be able to integrate my own research interests with those already being studied, providing
a quick and seamless transition to graduate school.
While having a very strong nuclear physics graduate program, the school also offers the
Institute for Nuclear Theory. This institute, established by the Department of Energy, encourages
interdisciplinary research at the intersections of nuclear physics with particle physics,
astrophysics, atomic physics, and condensed matter physics. The institute also has the goal of
developing a greater appreciation for the tools used in nuclear physics and the possible
applications of such techniques in other fields. The propagation of knowledge outside one’s
academic field is a topic a care passionately about, and I would like to see this happen with the
field of physics. Becoming involved at the Institute for Nuclear Theory would be a great way to
reach out and promote physics to a larger audience, especially with the intent to help with the
dissemination of ideas to people in all fields of research.