Eric S. Swanson
University of Pittsburgh
404 Allen Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
O: (412) 624–9057
F: (412) 624–9163
I am interested in learning how quarks and gluons build the universe. Quarks are the most basic bits of matter which form all other massive particles such as protons, neutrons, pions, and many others (electrons and neutrinos are not made of quarks). Gluons are the carriers of the force which acts between quarks (much the same as photons are the carriers of the electromagnetic force). The whole thing is described by a quantum field theory called Quantum Chromodynamics, or QCD for short. Although it is easy to describe QCD (the whole theory can be written on one line), it embodies many fascinating phenomena. These include color confinement, asymptotic freedom, spontaneous chiral symmetry breaking, important topological features, the quark–gluon plasma phase transition, and the emergence of an entirely new class of matter made of gluons (like atoms made of pure light!). QCD is also widely applicable. It is used in nuclear physics (how the nuclei of atoms are formed and behave), astrophysics (the formation of neutron and quark stars), cosmology (the very early universe is thought to have been a quark–gluon plasma), and hadronic physics (the physics of protons, pions, etc). You can find a pedagogical introduction to particle physics here and an introduction to QCD in an article I wrote for American Scientist. My research concentrates on describing the structure and interactions of hadrons –– those particles which are made of quarks and gluons. I am especially interested in exotics, particles made in whole or in part by gluons. There is an active effort to discover these particles around the world. I am a member of a new $30 million experimental effort being mounted at Jefferson Lab in Virginia. Gluons are an especially interesting part of QCD because their peculiar properties are thought to underlie many of the interesting phenomena I mentioned above. Understanding QCD means understanding its vacuum. Some of my current research involves using a numerical method called lattice gauge theory to probe different aspects of the QCD vacuum. My students and I are also examining the application of the Schwinger-Dyson formalism to nonperturbative properties of quantum field theory.
- "Confinement Models at Finite Temperature and Density", Pok Man Lo and E.S. Swanson, Phys. Rev. D81, 034030 (2010).
- "Hadron loops: General theorems and application to charmonium", T. Barnes and E.S. Swanson, Phys. Rev. C77, 055206 (2008).
- "A Canonical Ds(2317)?", O. Lakhina and E.S. Swanson, Phys. Lett. B650, 159 (2007).
- "The New Heavy Mesons: a Status Report", E.S. Swanson, Phys. Rept. 429, 243 (2006).
- "Higher Charmonia," T. Barnes, S. Godfrey, and E.S. Swanson, Phys. Rev. D72, 054026 (2005).
- "Short Range Structure in the X(3872)," E.S. Swanson, Phys. Lett. B588, 189 (2004).
- "Coulomb Gauge QCD, Confinement, and the Constituent Representation," A. Szczepaniak and E.S. Swanson, Phys. Rev. D65, 025012 (2002).
- "Chiral Extrapolation, Renormalization, and the Viability of the Quark Model," A. Szczepaniak and E.S. Swanson, Phys. Rev. Lett. 87, 072001 (2001).
- "One the Excitation Spectrum of Heisenberg Spin Ladders," T. Barnes, E. Dagotto, J. Riera, and E.S. Swanson, Phys. Rev. B47, 3196 (1993).
- New Particle Hints at Four-Quark Matter, APS Physics Viewpoint, June 17, 2013
- Why the Higgs Particle Matters Pittsburgh Post Gazette op-ed, July 8, 2012
- These studies are killing me Pittsburgh Post Gazette op-ed, July 24, 2011
- Keep Your Hands off of My Theory!, Pittsburgh Post Gazette op-ed, Jan 9, 2011
- Weather and Climate aren't the Same, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Feb 2010
- We Can't Run and We Can't Hide, Pittsburgh Post Gazette op-ed, Sept 27, 2009.
- Stop Freaking Out about Cell Phones!, Pittsburgh Post Gazette op-ed, Aug 3, 2008
- Na tropie egzotycznych hadronow, Postepy Fiziki, Jan 18, 2005.
- Rumsfeld's Folly: National Missile Defense, Pittsburgh Post Gazette op-ed, Jan 14, 2001
- The Search for QCD Exotics, American Scientist, Sept, 2000
- The Body Scientific
- CERN Scientists Claim Discovery of New Particles NY Times, July 14, 2015
- A Trip to the Quark Zoo, APS podcast, June, 2014
- Indisputable Proof of a New Four Quark Particle, Popular Science, April 10, 2014
- New Charmed Particle Represents a Rare State of Matter, Fox News, June 2013
- Moegliche neue Materieform: Physiker entdecken mysterioeses Teilchen, Spiegel Online, June 2013
- New 'Charmed' Particle Represents Rare State of Matter, LiveScience, June 2013
- Mysterious Subatomic Particle May Represent Exotic New Form of Matter, Wired, June 2013
- The Cold Hard Facts, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Dec 23, 2012
- Is the NYPD's new gun detection scanner safe?, The New York World, Jan 19, 2012
- Pitt professors blast study linking brain, cell phone usage, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, May 26, 2011
- Pitt Scientists Among Those Challenging Cellphone Research, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 26, 2011
- Are Cell Phones Safe?, www.procon.org, Feb 2010
- KDKA's Jeff Verszyla is Tweeting up a Storm, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Oct 16, 2009
- Hadronic Physicists Find a Home, APS News, Oct 2009
- Exotic Arrival, Frontline Magazine, May 2009
- The Charming Case of the X(3872), Symmetry, Apr, 2008
- Physicists Spot Unusual Charged Meson, Physics World, Nov 15, 2007
- Starting From Square One, Science News, Aug 7, 2004
- Misbehavin' Meson: perplexing particle flouts the rules, Science News, June 26, 2004
- New Hadronic Physics Topical Group Approved, APS News, Jan 2002