This week I was in Bari as the physics department of that university organized a major event: SM&FT 2011. This is a biennial conference having the aims to discuss recent achievements in fields as statistical mechanics and quantum field theory that have a lot of commonalities. The organizers are well-known physicists and so it was a pleasure for me to see my contribution accepted. Leonardo Cosmai wrote to me confirming my partecipation. Leonardo, together with Paolo Cea, Alessandro Papa and Massimo d’Elia produced a lot of significant works in quantum field theory and a recent paper by Cosmai and Cea arose some fuzz also in the blogosphere (see here). Their forecast for the Higgs boson agrees quite well with my view about this matter. They were also part of the organizing committee. Of course, I was in Bari with my friend Marco Ruggieri that lived there for more than twelve years gaining a PhD in that university.

The scientific content was really interesting an I have had the chance to learn something more about lattice field theory. You can find all the talks here. About this, it should be said that people work with small lattices yet. While this has been a natural way to manage the QCD on the lattice due to missing computational resources, things are rapidly changing due to CUDA as I discussed a lot in my blog and was presented in some talks at this conference. Small groups will be able, with very few bucks of their budgets, to reach a significant ability to analyze increasingly lattice volumes. Besides, also large scale projects in this direction, mostly due to INFN and extending the APE project originated by Nicola Cabibbo and Giorgio Parisi, were presented (see talks by Francesco di Renzo e Piero Vicini). A typical situation in this kind of lattice analysis, improved using CUDA, was also pointed out by Massimo D’Elia in his talk. Thanks to this new technology they are increasing significantly the volumes. You can compare the content of his talk with that of his collaborator Francesco Negro, discussing a really interesting problem on the lattice (and a promise for the future with CUDA), with smaller volumes due to reduced computational resources. The interest for the activity of this group and Francesco’s work is strongly linked to a paper that I and Marco Ruggieri wrote together about the QCD vacuum in presence of a magnetic field (see here). The work by Francesco, even if for small volumes, provides interesting conclusions. It should be said that the Nambu-Jona-Lasinio model is there well alive and kicking.

From a strictly theoretical side, I would like to point out the talks by Giuseppe Mussardo, with which I have had a nice mail exchange and is author of some beautiful books (e.g. see here), and the ones by Adriano Di Giacomo and Valentin Zakharov that seem to have some relevant contact points with my work. There was also a talk by Edward Shuryak, one of the proponents of the instantons liquid for the QCD vacuum that is strongly supported by lattice simulations and theoretical works like mine.

At the end of the social dinner, we have had some interesting discussions with Di Giacomo and Cosmai. There was some excitation about the announced seminar about neutrinos by CERN and INFN. In a pub after the dinner, I have had some interesting discussions about a proposal by Michele Pepe and others (see his talk) that holds the promises to improve significantly lattice computations removing artifacts. It was also the chance to hear the point of view of Owe Philipsen (see his talk) about the current situation on lattice simulations on QCD at finite temperature. As I have discussed in some posts in this blog, this kind of simulations are plagued by the infamous sign problem and most of the work turns back to try to get rid of it. My friend Marco expressed the somewhat pessimistic view that a critical endpoint will never be seen on lattice computations. Indeed, he is the proponent of the use of a chiral chemical potential that does not display this stumbling block on the lattice (see his talk). This approach holds the promises to reach the goal as he showed in a recent paper. His proposal is under scrutiny by the lattice community. The QCD critical endpoint is a Holy Grail for all of us working in this area as QCD displays a quite rich phase diagram and we have also a lot of experimental data in heavy ion collisions to understand. You should take a look both at the talks of Marco and Alessandro Papa.

I would like to have cited all the talks and I apologize for omissions. If my readers have some time to spend usefully just read it all, as the conference was well organized and with very interesting contents in a really nice atmosphere somehow excited by neutrino news in the last two days.

P. Cea, & L. Cosmai (2011). The trivial Higgs boson: first evidences from LHC arXiv arXiv: 1106.4178v1

Marco Frasca, & Marco Ruggieri (2011). Magnetic Susceptibility of the Quark Condensate and Polarization from Chiral Models Phys.Rev.D83:094024,2011 arXiv: 1103.1194v1

Marco Ruggieri (2011). The Critical End Point of Quantum Chromodynamics Detected by Chirally

Imbalanced Quark Matter Phys.Rev.D84:014011,2011 arXiv: 1103.6186v2

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