2014 Higgs Symposium: New Horizons in Particle Cosmology

The Standard Model of Cosmology is now on a solid observational foundation. But the empirical success of the model forces us to consider its outstanding fundamental problems: What drives the current expansion of the Universe to accelerate? Did a period of Cosmological Inflation set the initial conditions for the observable Universe? What is the nature of the Dark Matter which molds the formation of structure and how is it connected to Particle Physics? Is Einstein’s Theory of Gravity correct on all scales or will we have to modify it on cosmological scales?

In the second Higgs Symposium on Theoretical Physics we will focus on addressing these issues by bringing together experts in Cosmology and Particle Physics to discuss our current knowledge and see where new ideas might take us and what we can learn from observations. The successful discovery of the Higgs Boson at CERN reassures us that scalar fields do exist and gives support to models which make use of its cousins, such as the Inflaton and Quintessence, while the recent BICEP2 results suggest that the simplest Inflationary models are right. But what can we learn and can it be linked to Particle Physics? Cosmological measurements still provide us with the only empirical evidence for Dark Matter, but how far away is a detection in the laboratory? And since Cosmology relies on a theory of gravity which needs to be tested, where will these tests lead us?
To address these issues, the meeting will take as its basis three topics:
1. Scalar Fields in Cosmology: Inflation & Dark Energy
2. Modifying Gravity
3. Dark Matter