A Brief Guide to Everything

John Ellis

The microscopic quantum world of fermions and bosons is a far cry from the grand expansion of the universe, yet they are connected. CERN’s John Ellis offers an account of what physicists do and don’t know.

  • johnellis
    John Ellis

    CERN physicist since 1978, Clerk Maxwell Professor, King’s College London, CBE.


About the Course


The standard model of particle physics is lauded as the most successful scientific theory ever. But from dark energy to antimatter, cosmological inflation to the stability of empty space, contemporary physics is riddled with holes. In this course, Professor John Ellis gives a grand tour of theoretical physics, and offers his account of where we might be heading.

By the end of the course, you will have learned:

  • The mechanism of the Higgs boson and how it was found
  • The evidence and theory behind cosmological expansion
  • What the Cosmic Microwave Background tells us about our universe
  • The seven reasons why the standard model is incomplete
  • How far supersymmetry may help to complete the picture
  • Why the BICEP2 gravitational waves claim may have been ruled out too soon


As part of the course there are in-video quiz questions to consolidate your learning, discussion boards to have your say and an end-of-course assessment set by Professor Ellis.

IAI Academy courses are designed to be challenging but accessible to the interested student. No specialist knowledge is required.


About the Instructor

  • John Ellis

    Clerk Maxwell Professor of Theoretical Physics at King’s College London who has worked extensively at CERN, and advocates the extension of the particle accelerator programme. His research focuses on phenomenological aspects of particle physics. Professor Ellis coined the term ‘theory of everything’, and in 1976 he coauthored the first paper on how to find the Higgs boson.

Course Syllabus

  • Part One: What We Know About Matter
    From the electron to the Higgs, how does the standard model of the known matter work?
  • Part Two: What We Know About the Universe
    How can we describe the motion of galaxies and the birth of the universe?
  • Part Three: The Known Unknowns
    From the Graviton to Dark Energy, our understanding is far from complete. Why?