Prospects in Theoretical Physics (PiTP)

I like to keep up on various experimental and theoretical particle physics conferences and summer schools. Quite often, the conferences and summer schools post videos of the talks as well as the accompanying slides (and sometimes homework sets, in the case of summer schools). I find them incredibly useful, and have learned quite a bit from watching the videos – mostly because they are given and taught by the top experimental and theoretical high energy physicists.

PiTP has been held at IAS every summer since 2002, and has focused each two-week summer session on a different topic in theoretical  physics. I finally made my way through all of the PiTP lectures, and I highly recommend them to anyone interested in high energy physics – you’ll be astounded at how amazing the lectures are, and will definitely get something out of them.  I’d suggest looking for the topic you are most interested in, and watching the videos and reading the lecture notes from that year; you can even do the homework problems if you want (warning: they are pretty difficult)! I’ve made a list of the topics covered as well as some of the essential lectures below:

  • 2002: Introduction to String Theory. I haven’t been able to find any of the videos from this year’s session, but you can find a list of the lecturers as well as the references for their talks (references like these are incredibly useful) here:
  • 2003: Cosmology, Particles, and Strings. Sadly, this one has neither lecture videos nor references, so for now I’d say skip it.
  • 2004: String Theory. PiTP 2004 looks like it had an awesome program – I wish so badly I had been there! Luckily, most of the lecture notes are posted, and nearly all of them have shared essential references for their lectures, which you can find here:
  • 2005: Introduction to Collider Physics. The lecture notes and homeworks for this year’s PiTP are absolutely fantastic: . However, the session for PiTP 2013 is on basically the same topic, but contains even more useful information (as well as some awesome lecture videos), since it covers the info from the latest run at the LHC.
  • 2006: Applications of String Theory. The lectures, problem sets, and references from 2006 are so awesome. This year, they had Klebanov on D-Branes on Cones and Gauge/String Dualities, Maldacena on Giant Magnons, Beisert on Integrability in AdS/CFT, Itzhaki on the String Landscape and the Anthropic Principle, Intrilagator on Dynamical SUSY Breaking, and Polchinski on Cosmic Strings and Superstrings. Polchinski’s lecture notes are sort of hard to read, since they are hand-written, but they are by far my favorite lecture notes from 2006 – definitely check them out. You can find everything here: , and the suggested pre-reading list here:
  • 2007: The Standard Model and Beyond. Basically, 2007 was beyond awesome. We’ve got Langacker on the basics of the Standard Model, Ellis giving an introduction to colliders, Dine’s Introduction to SUSY, Peskin on the LHC, Nima on the basics of Beyond The Standard Model physics, special seminars by Witten and Maldacena, and a ton more. Each of these has fantastic lecture notes and some of them have homework problem. Luckily, the videos for Witten and Maldacena’s seminars have been posted, too, so you should give those a watch! You can find everything here:
  • 2008: Strings and Phenomenology. This is the first year that nearly all of the lectures were recorded and shared online! We’ve got Schwarz on Superstrings, Raby on Grand Unification, Verlinde on String Phenomenology and F-Theory, Witten on String Compactifications, and more! Simply an awesome year. You can find everything here:
  • 2009: Computational Astrophysics. This year was pretty heavy in computational methods in astrophysics, and I had a hard time getting through the lecture notes and videos since I’m more of a particle person. If you like astro, check it out:
  • 2010: Aspects of Supersymmetry. This is my absolute favorite – the lectures are amazing. Jon Bagger (of the famous Wess and Bagger) gives a fantastic series on SUSY and Superspace that I learned a great deal from, and Katrin and Melanie Becker (co-authors with Schwarz of String Theory and M-Theory – a great intro to strings) both give lectures on SUSY for Strings and Branes that are essential viewing. There are many more lectures, and each one is really good – if you like SUSY and strings, I’d recommend watching all of the videos, because you will probably get a lot out of them (I know I did). Look here:
  • 2011: Frontiers of Physics in Cosmology. This year covered topics “ranging from early universe cosmology to the late time acceleration of the cosmic expansion.” All of the lectures are wonderful and worth watching, but I found Susskind’s lectures on Eternal Inflation especially interesting (mostly because I’m currently taking a particle cosmology course and find eternal inflation really interesting). You all should check this out:
  • 2012: Computation and Biology. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any lecture notes or videos from this year, so we are forced to move on to the next and most recent year.
  • 2013: LHC Physics. This year’s lectures were so good!!!! All of the videos are worth watching, especially the lecture by Elliot Lipeles on “The Interplay of Experiment and Theory in the Higgs Measurement”, which covers a lot of the important information relevant to understand the recent Higgs discovery, and what it means for theorists and experimentalists – a really fantastic lecture, though I may be biased, since Elliot is a Penn faculty member. Everything can be found here:
  • 2014: String Theory. This is the topic of next year’s session. I’m excited to see the lectures when they are released after the session next summer!

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