“How dare we disturb the universe?"

Simone Zoia’s dissertation published in “Springer Theses"

Simone Zoia’s doctoral thesis in theoretical particle physics has been recognized as outstanding PhD research. The book series “Springer Theses" included his work on "Modern Analytic Methods for Scattering Amplitudes” in its program, a selection of the very best contributions made by the younger generation of researchers across the physical sciences worldwide. Simone Zoia’s research at the Max Planck Institute for Physics received funding from the ERC Grant “Novel structures in scattering amplitudes” of Johannes Henn.

Dr. Simone Zoia (Photo: Yang Zhang/MPP)

„How dare we disturb the universe?“, Simone Zoia asks in his introduction. His work was not the first one to do that: Thousands of years of philosophical and scientific inquiry lie behind us. „I think we can safely claim that our understanding of the universe is better than it used to be“, Zoia writes. In the past century there was huge progress in the scientific methods that also brought about the Standard Model of particle physics, the most successful scientific theory of all times.

“Ironically, the triumph of the Standard Model is reason not only for delight, but also for growing frustration. While none of its predictions has been clearly falsified yet, there are things it does not account for at all.” Here it is, where Zoia’s PhD story starts: “In order to go beyond the Standard Model, it is of primary importance to determine its range of validity, and to constrain its possible extensions. Our best probe into the microscopic world of fundamental particles is CERN's LHC.”

In his research work the young Italian scientist focuses on the high energy effects in the collision of protons, captured by scattering amplitudes. Scattering amplitudes are a mathematical method to compute the probability for the production of certain particles in the collision of other particles. The researcher looked in particular at five-particle processes at two-loop order, which are at the forefront of scattering amplitude computations because of their tremendous complexity. “The most difficult part of computing a scattering amplitude is the computation of the Feynman integrals appearing in it”, Zoia says.