July 11, 2012
By JOE SIMNACHER
Three teams of physicists from North Texas were at the heart of the research that discovered the new subatomic particle announced Wednesday.
Professors and graduate students from Southern Methodist University, the University of Texas at Dallas and the University of Texas at Arlington were all working in Geneva on Wednesday when the identification of the basic building block of the universe was announced.
“It’s really exciting,” said Dr. Joe Izen, the physics professor leading the UTD team. “I get paid to do this.”
The North Texas teams were part of ATLAS, one of seven larger experiments designed to detect the subatomic particle.
The UTD team created and operated the ATLAS pixel detector, “kind of like an 80 million pixel camera, if you will,” Izen said. It detects the paths of charge tracks so they can be traced to their point of origin.
The SMU team works on the ATLAS liquid argon calorimeter, which measures the energy of photons and electrons.
Dr. Ryszard Stroynowski, physics professor and leader of the SMU team, said he and his colleagues have spent years in Geneva working with equipment they built in Dallas. Stroynowski recently devoted a one-year sabbatical from SMU to the experiment.
“The experiment operates 24 hours a day,” Stroynowski said. “It has to be manned in shifts.”
UTA works on the ATLAS hadronic calorimeter, which measures the energy of particles like protons and neutrons that are made from quarks. Dr. Andrew White, leader of the UTA team, could not be reached.
The North Texas teams have an extensive communications network that links the Swiss lab with their homes and offices in Texas.
While each university has specific assignments, the work is a collaboration.
“It’s a zillion separate pieces that have to work together,” Stroynowski said. “There is no individual component.”...