Scattering Amplitudes

A research project in theoretical particle physics funded by the European Research Council and hosted at the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich. Together with his research team, Prof. Dr. Johannes Henn is developing innovative techniques to test and improve our understanding of elementary particles and their interactions.

What are scattering amplitudes?

Broadly speaking, scattering amplitudes allow us to compute the probability that certain particles are produced in the collision with other particles. These interactions of elementary particles govern all matter and energy around us, as well as billions of light years away. They can be studied at high precision at particle accelerators like the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

Why are we interested in scattering amplitudes?

Most physicists are convinced that we do not yet know all of the elementary particles. Scattering amplitudes allow us to predict precisely the behavior of the known particles, so that any yet-to-be-discovered interactions would stand out. Moreover, scattering amplitudes have intriguing mathematical properties that may lead us to a better understanding of the theory underlying our current understanding of the universe.


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“So that I may perceive whatever holds
the world together in its inmost folds.”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Learn about how theoretical physicists are finding answers to questions humans have been pondering for decades.

What is our world made of?

Over 2000 years ago thinkers in different parts of the world, among others, Leukipp and Democritus in Greece, Hui Shi in China, Kanada in India, were already asking themselves this fundamental question.

Each one of them imagined that the world is built from miniscule objects that cannot be further divided. Indeed, the Greek word atomos means indivisible.
Today, we know that atoms are divisible. They have a substructure, they are built from neutrons and protons which have a substructure themselves. But how did we come to know this?

The language of the universe

In the 17th century, scientists like Galileo Galilei and Isaac Newton paved the way for today’s science. In order to understand how the planets in the universe move, they used an old language in a modern way.

“The universe is written in the language of mathematics.”
~ Galileo

The scientific method

The language of mathematics is at the heart of the scientific method.

This is how it goes:

  1. Make precise observations
  2. Think of a theory
  3. Transform it into mathematical formulas
  4. Use the formulas to make a prediction
  5. Test the prediction in an experiment

Elementary particle physics

The scientific method is still the core of scientific research today. We try to solve the mysteries of the universe by calculating mathematical formulas.

We learn about the particles and the forces that “hold the world together in its inmost folds” by making theoretical predictions. We follow the tradition of early thinkers using the principles of modern science to discover new answers to age-old questions.

Joint worldwide effort

We are based at the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich, Germany, but our work is enriched and supported by scientists from all over the world. Together we try to go beyond the boundaries of what we know today.

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