Strategic Research Program "High-Energy Physics"

Theoretical physics

The role of theorists is to build models that can eventually be tested experimentally. Roughly speaking, one distinguishes "deductive" and "inductive" methods. The deductive approach starts from elegant, symmetric, consistent models (e.g. string theory) and then tries to make contact with the (less symmetric) real world by deriving predictions from the models (and comparing them with experimental data). The inductive approach starts from experimental data and constructs (less ambitious) models directly aimed at explaining specific data, putting less emphasis on completeness or mathematical consistency. The VUB theory group has traditionally taken the deductive approach, and it still characterizes a lot of its research, such as the study of string compactications, string theory models of the big bang singularity, etc. While the eventual aim of this work is to make testable predictions, our level of understanding of string theory as a fundamental theory is such that direct tests should not be expected within the next few years. A recent development in our theoretical research is a shift towards models more directly aimed at comparison with experiments. One manifestation of this is an emphasis on models of supersymmetry breaking, which will within the next few years be compared to LHC data. Another line of research is the use of techniques originating in string theory (in particular the gauge/gravity duality) to try and explain specic features of the quark gluon plasma created in heavy-ion collisions, including its fast thermalization as well as observed fluctuations in the angular distribution of particles.


Group leader

Prof. Dr. Ben Craps
Theoretical High-Energy Physics (TENA)

Email: ben.craps at
Phone: +32-2-629-34 61




Permanent Staff

10% Professor

Postdoctoral Research Associates

PhD students