The purpose of this workshop is to highlight the emerging discipline of space-based research in fundamental physics and demonstrate how this area of modern science can provide the knowledge needed to address outstanding questions at the intersection of physics, astronomy, and cosmology, thereby leading to major advances in these fields.
Today, physics stands at the threshold of major discoveries. The evidence is substantial, both theoretical and observational, that Einsteinís general theory of relativity plus the Standard Model of the strong, electromagnetic, and weak forces, and fundamental particles is not a complete and consistent picture of physical law. In fact, our two foundational descriptions of Nature, general relativity and quantum mechanics, are not even compatible with each other. Furthermore, observational support for unknown forms of (dark) matter and energy signals the existence of "new physics" beyond the Standard Model. Some of the discovered phenomena point to a possible breakdown in general relativity and also emphasize the need for new physics to overcome the challenges.
There are two approaches to physics research in space: one can detect and study signals from remote astrophysical objects or one can perform carefully designed in-situ experiments. The two methods are complementary and the latter---which is the focus of this meeting---has the advantage of utilizing well-understood and controlled laboratory environments. Technologies already at hand allow one to take advantage of the variable gravity potentials, large distances, pristine primordial particles environment, and high velocity and acceleration regimes accessible in space. As a result, the space-based experiments can now lead to major advances in our knowledge of fundamental laws of physics which makes them a strong complement to the observational fields of astronomy and cosmology, the two areas responsible for the recent groundbreaking discoveries.
As was demonstrated at the first "Quantum to Cosmos" workshop held at the Airlie Center in Warrenton, Virginia, May 21-24, 2006, there is an emerging discipline of space-based research in fundamental physics that, in addition to being the frontier of modern physics with a great discovery potential, is also a birthplace to many technologies that are capable of advancing a wide spectrum of space sciences and practical applications.
This second Q2C meeting will be organized in the spirit of the Airlie Workshop; for that we aim to bring together leading experts from diverse fields of physics including gravitation, cosmology, astrophysics, and condensed matter to discuss new opportunities for research. The outcome of this workshop will be a document to guide the development of future international mission opportunities and priorities for national space programs.
We anticipate a good participation by representatives from the European and US funding agencies, science policymakers and industry.