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Martin Savage

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Laura Lee
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Simulations and Symmetries: Cold Atoms, QCD, and
Few-hadron Systems

March 15 - May 21, 2010

This INT program will explore the connections between QCD, cold-atom physics, and few-hadron systems. These disparate topics are related in a number of ways. The overall goal of the program is to bring practitioners from these different communities to the INT in order to:

  • Enhance understanding of the effective few-hadron picture that emerges from the strongly interacting many-body dynamics of QCD at low energies;
  • Cross-fertilize the fields of nuclear physics and ultra-cold atoms, through the exploration of common techniques for understanding these systems, and recent experimental results relevant to few- and many-body systems with resonant interactions
  • Use the drive to constrain few-hadron interactions to stimulate further advances in lattice QCD theory and computation.
The combination of input from lattice QCD and insights from cold-atom systems has the potential to significantly advance knowledge of few-hadron dynamics. The connection between lattice QCD and this dynamics is simple to state: such simulations allow hadron-hadron and three-hadron interactions to be rigorously computed from QCD. This will forge a direct link between QCD and nuclear physics. This process is already underway, with the first computation of NN scattering in full QCD recently appearing, and calculations in systems of up to 12 mesons, including the first lattice calculation of a kaon condensate. Effective field theories based on the chiral symmetry of QCD will play an extensive role in connecting lattice computations to few-hadron phenomenology. Further, it is these EFT methods, in tandem with traditional few-body methods, that will provide the bridge from lattice QCD to the nuclei in the mass range A=4-12 that it is simply impractical to simulate on the lattice.

Meanwhile, an explosion of interest in atomic systems near the "unitary limit" (where the two-body scattering length becomes infinite) has been driven by novel experiments and the consequent role of these systems as testing grounds for approximations that are used in many-body systems. In the case of few-nucleon physics nature has provided us with a two-body system with a large scattering length. Thus few-nucleon dynamics shares universal features-features associated with the presence of a large scattering length and insensitive to the details of the underlying interaction-with the physics of cold atoms near Feshbach resonances.

We want to use the ten weeks of this program to bring the different communities working on these problems together and so move all three sub-fields forward.