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Kevin Zhou

Physics graduate student

Stanford University

Biography

I’m a graduate student interested in particle phenomenology and physics education. I spent two years in the UK as a Marshall scholar, and am currently a PhD student at Stanford, funded by an NSF Graduate Research fellowship. A complete CV is available here.

I got started by devouring the scifi section of my local public library, but it wasn’t until watching Particle Fever in college that I knew what I wanted to be. I find nothing more thrilling than the process of scientific discovery, whether it’s the “aha!” moment of a single student or the collective effort of the entire physics community, and I hope to be a lifelong participant as a professor of physics.

Interests

  • Beyond the Standard Model
  • Dark matter
  • Precision experiments

Education

  • PhD in Physics (in progress)

    Stanford

  • MSc in Mathematical and Theoretical Physics, 2019

    Oxford

  • MASt in Mathematics, 2018

    Cambridge

  • BSc in Physics and Mathematics, 2017

    MIT

Recent Papers

Probing Invisible Vector Meson Decays with NA64 and LDMX

Electron beam fixed target experiments such as NA64 and LDMX can improve constraints on invisible light vector meson decays by $5$ orders of magnitude, enhancing their sensitivity to dark matter of mass $m_\chi \gtrsim 0.1 \ \mathrm{GeV}$.

Stellar Shocks From Dark Matter Asteroid Impacts

When macroscopic dark matter passes through a star, the resulting shock waves cause a distinctive UV transient. Existing telescopes could probe orders of magnitude in dark matter mass in one week of observation.

Heterodyne Broadband Detection of Axion Dark Matter

We propose a new broadband search strategy for ultralight axion dark matter covering fifteen orders of magnitude in mass, including astrophysically long-ranged fuzzy dark matter.

Axion Dark Matter Detection by Superconducting Resonant Frequency Conversion

We propose an approach to search for axion dark matter with a superconducting radio frequency cavity, using axion-induced transitions between nearly degenerate resonant modes of frequency $\sim \text{GHz}$.

Personal Notes

These are the notes I’ve taken while learning physics. They’re quite compact and don’t usually correspond closely with any particular course; instead they’re packed full of all the neat things I’ve found reading books. Currently they weigh in at 1,900 pages and 750,000 words.

Basics

These notes summarize foundational material. They roughly cover both the MIT undergraduate sequence and Part I and II of the Cambridge physics sequence.

Breadth

These notes give a little bit of background on a wide variety of fields of physics, and are aimed at the late undergraduate level.

Depth

These notes focus on my own field of particle physics, following courses taught at Cambridge’s Part III and Oxford’s MMathPhys.

Dabbling

These notes reflect the bits I’ve learned in fields outside physics.

If you like the style, you can download a TeX template here.

Olympiad Handouts

I’ve developed a series of challenging problem sets for students aiming at gold medals at the International Physics Olympiad. The core curriculum contains 24 handouts and about 1,000 questions, ranging up to IPhO level and beyond. It covers all Olympiad topics, and all the theory of the first two years of a university physics degree. The handouts explain all the problem solving techniques I know of, and come with examples, full solutions and references to historical and modern literature. For more details, see the syllabus and FAQ.

I do not offer tutoring for the USAPhO or any other physics competition, but I will release full solutions for all handouts throughout the summer of 2022, so that everybody interested can benefit from them. The newest releases are in bold:

Foundations

Developments

Further Topics

  • Mech VIII (Sol), Elec VIII (Sol), Relativity III (Sol)
  • Waves III (Sol), Modern II (Sol), Modern III (Sol)

Review and Practice Olympiads

Writing

Advice

Expository

  • Cosmological Relaxation. A dissertation written for the Oxford MSc in Mathematical and Theoretical Physics, covering models that “relax” the Higgs boson’s mass. Also contains unqualified musings on model building and the meaning of naturalness and fine-tuning.
  • The Meaning of Nothing. The New College Demuth prize essay, on how theoretical stories map onto reality, and why a physicist’s philosophical flexibility is a useful tool. Published in the New College Record with a wonderful illustration by Audrey Effenberger.

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