Physics Profile: Chad Madsen

Chad Madsen

You might say life for Chad Madsen is about muons, matter and motets.

The junior spent last summer in Switzerland working on the MuLan experiment, where he performed a measurement of the muon beam profile. The experiment aims to take precision measurements of the positive-muon lifetime on the order of 1 part per million.

Such precise measurements seek to test the Fermi constant, used to calculate the strength of the Weak Nuclear Force. That force is responsible for nuclear decay and radioactivity. The measurements Chad is working on, under the guidance of Professor Rob Carey, could help verify or disprove the Standard Model of particle physics.

Because Chad’s interest in science doesn’t stop at physics, he is also president of the BU Astronomical Society, an organization open to anyone excited by astronomy. He’s specifically intrigued by cosmology and high energy astrophysics. During his freshman year, he worked with astronomy Professor Elizabeth Blanton on X-ray observations of the Perseus Cluster. They analyzed how the cluster’s supermassive black hole affects the cluster.

He now works with Professor Tereasa G. Brainerd on the dark matter problem, using his physics and math skills to analyze dark matter’s effect on the large-scale structure of the universe. Chad says his interests in experimental particle physics and dark matter are not coincidental; he hopes to one day help find the particle responsible for dark matter.

Chad also harbors an affection for the arts. He plays the cello, the piano and writes his own classical music. He ventures out to museums and the symphony. He fiddles with acting and comedy routines. And he adores listening to Beethoven, Brahms, and Shostakovich. Chad also knows the importance of physical activity; he enjoys playing frisbee and hitting the boxing ring. And though he hails from Idaho, he reports that never in his life has he seen a potato farm.