Eric Torrence is an experimental particle physicist who uses particle accelerators, some of the largest scientific instruments ever constructed, to study the most basic properties of matter and the fundamental forces of nature.
The current focus of this research is proton-proton collisions at the Large Hadron Collider located at European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN) in Geneva Switzerland. After nearly a decade of construction, the LHC began operations late in 2009, and is expected to usher in a new era of understanding in particle physics. Eric is a member of the ATLAS collaboration, a large multi-purpose detector designed to find new fundamental particles produced in high energy pp collisions, and search for new phenomena which will help further our fundamental understanding of the universe we live in.
Historically, Eric has primarily focused on understanding the unification of the Weak and Electromagnetic forces through precise measurements of the properties of the W and Z bosons. The internal consistency of this precise electroweak data allows for powerful constraints to be placed upon scenarios of new physics currently being explored by the theoretical community, including supersymmetry, theories of extra dimensions, and possible manifestations of string theory at lower energy scales. This work has been done as a member of the OPAL collaboration at CERN (Switzerland) and the SLD collaboration at SLAC (California).
Joining ATLAS was a natural continuation of this program, where over the next several years data will be collected which extends into the 'Terascale' to probe what lies beyond the electroweak symmetry breaking scale. Currently, Eric is the co-convener of the ATLAS Luminosity Working Group, which is responsible for measuring how much colliding beam data the LHC has delivered to the ATLAS collaboration: a fundamental input to almost every measurement made by the collaboration.
In the past, Eric was also a member of the BaBar collaboration at SLAC, where he studied the fundamental properties of the tau lepton. Of particular interest are searches for rare and unexpected decay modes of the tau lepton, the tau electromagnetic couplings, and limits on the tau neutrino mass.
Eric is further interested in the accelerator instrumentation necessary to fully exploit the physics potential of these large colliders, having actively worked on measurements of beam polarization and beam energy at both SLAC and CERN. This research continues as part of the planning for a new high-energy linear collider to which Eric is an active participant.