Maria Spiropulu (Professor of Physics, Caltech) is an experimental particle physicist and a leader in the search for dark matter at CERN's Large Hadron Collider and its Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment.
PI: Scientific discoveries often happen where two or more fields intersect. What is your favourite scientific intersection, and why?
MS: I am very intrigued on the connections of quantum entanglement with cosmology, because the quantum nature of our universe seems to be behind puzzling phenomena at most scales.
PI: Breakthroughs often happen at the broken places. What's the most exciting broken place for you?
MS: The Higgs with its borderline mass and the whole "nearly broken" naturalness idea is right in our face these days. Gravity is, of course, always the broken place for everyone and gravity is behind such mysterious things as dark matter and dark energy and black holes. So there are many broken places. It would be fun if they all connected.
PI: What keeps you up at night, or gets you to work in the morning?
MS: Night in Pasadena is usually day at CERN so I have not much night, in reality. Recently I am very distressed, literally around the clock, on the rebuild of the experiment for the 2025 LHC run. I am also extremely distressed about how and when will we get to 1,000 TeV with a man-made machine.
PI: Have you had a eureka moment?
MS: Many such, because there is a lot of struggle and every step of progress is an "ah-ha" moment. The most recent "ah-ha" moment is not a moment but nine months of "ah-ha." I will tell you what it is when I know for sure.
PI: "I am a physicist because..."
MS: ... it appears it was inevitable. Physics gives my life meaning, order, purpose, and shape. This is what I meant when I went on record 20 years ago saying that physics is my life.
PI: When historians look back at this moment in science, is there something you think they'll see as obvious, that we are just missing right now, or that this time will be noted for?
MS: This time will be noted for being on a threshold, like the jump before and after quantum mechanics. Except in this case I am not sure what the "after" will look like. The "before" is where we are at.