The world around us is made out of atoms---electrons orbiting nuclei. Those nuclei are made out of protons and neutrons, which are in turn built out of quarks and gluons. So, in principle, if one knows enough about elementary particle physics one can predict everything about nuclear physics. However, forging a robust, quantitative, first-principles foundation for nuclear physics remains an outstanding and challenging scientific problem.
CalLat is working towards bridging that gap. We are interested in anchoring nuclear phenomena in the Standard Model of particle physics. This means studying QCD (the theory of quarks and gluons), understanding how to build reliable models of nuclear physics, and the methods by which we can connect them.
The nature of the strong interaction makes it impossible to extract predictions from QCD at nuclear energy scales using pen and paper. The many-body effects in large nuclei similarly undermine the value of simple formulae.
Instead, we rely on numerical techniques. We take advantage of leadership-class high-performance supercomputers to extract predictions.
You can read about recent research highlights here.