Elizabeth Petrik, Harvard

The Standard Model of particle physics has reigned triumphant for nearly half a
century, confirmed by observation upon observation. Nevertheless, it fails to
explain significant aspects of the natural world, such as why our universe is
composed of matter rather than antimatter – or equal amounts of both. Such gaps have
inspired physicists to search from subatomic particles to galaxies for laws of
nature beyond the Standard Model.

I will discuss one such effort, the ACME Collaboration’s search for the electric
dipole moment of the electron (eEDM). Permanent EDMs of fundamental particles
violate time-reversal symmetry, which is intimately connected to the symmetry
between matter and antimatter. I will explain this connection and describe how we
use the techniques of atomic and molecular physics to perform an extremely precise
measurement of the eEDM, at scales less than 10^-28 cm. A non-zero eEDM, which has
so far eluded observation, could point the way to the solution of the
matter-antimatter asymmetry puzzle and to the new laws of nature that have long
tantalized the physics community.