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Topics in Theoretical Particle Physics and Cosmology


Salem, Michael Phillip (2007) Topics in Theoretical Particle Physics and Cosmology. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/BQ6Q-DA17.


We first delve into particle phenomenology with a study of soft-collinear effective theory (SCET), an effective theory for Quantum Chromodynamics for when all particles are approximately on their light-cones. In particular, we study the matching of SCET(I) involving ultrasoft and collinear particles onto SCET(II) involving soft and collinear particles. We show that the modes in SCET(II) are sufficient to reproduce all of the infrared divergences of SCET(I), a result that was previously in contention.

Next we move into early universe cosmology and study alternative mechanisms for generating primordial density perturbations. We study the inhomogeneous reheating mechanism and extend it to describe the scenario where the freeze-out process for a heavy particle is modulated by sub-dominant fields that received fluctuations during inflation. This scenario results in perturbations that are comparable to those generated by the original inhomogeneous reheating scenarios. In addition, we study yet another alternative to single field inflation whereby the curvature perturbation is generated by interactions at the end of inflation, as opposed to when inflaton modes exit the horizon. We clarify the circumstances under which this process can dominate over the standard one and we show that it may result in a spectrum with an observable level of non-Gaussianities.

We then turn to studies of the landscape paradigm, which hypothesizes that the observed universe is just one among a multitude of possibilities that are realized in separate causal regions. Such a landscape has been used to explain the smallness of the cosmological constant, at least when only it scans across the landscape. We study the scenario where both the cosmological constant and the strength of gravity, parameterized by the effective Planck mass, scan across the landscape. We find that selection effects acting on the cosmological constant are significantly weaker in this scenario and we find the measured value of the Planck mass to be exponentially unlikely under certain plausible assumptions about the landscape. Finally, we study some other models of the landscape as part of a possible explanation for quark-sector flavor parameters in the Standard Model. In this picture quark Yukawa couplings result from overlap integrals involving quark and Higgs wavefunctions in compactified extra dimensions, and the values we measure result from random selection from a landscape of possibilities. We find that many of the salient features of the measured flavor parameters are typical of the landscape distribution.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:inflation; landscape; primordial density perturbations; soft-collinear effective theory
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy
Major Option:Physics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Wise, Mark B.
Group:Caltech Theory
Thesis Committee:
  • Wise, Mark B. (chair)
  • Weinstein, Alan Jay
  • Preskill, John P.
  • Kamionkowski, Marc P.
Defense Date:21 May 2007
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-05222007-105100
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:1953
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:29 May 2007
Last Modified:26 Feb 2020 22:42

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