SMU physicists play major role in understanding matter

SMU physicists are at CERN in Switzerland, helping us better understand the origins of the universe.

Professor Fred Olness at CERN

What scientists hope is the beginning of a great leap forward in understanding how matter and the universe are made took place today when they flip the "on" switch for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) machine at the CERN laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland.

Fred Olness hosts a video tour of CERN
See Professor Olness's tour of the CERN lab video icon

A large team from the Department of Physics in SMU's Dedman College is involved in the project, including last spring's installation of the 7,000-ton subatomic particle detector they helped build for the LHC.

The Large Hadron Collider is a 27-kilometer enclosed, circular racetrack that will use a magnetic field to propel high energy protons into each other. Those collisions will release even smaller pieces of matter, and the Atlas particle detector will help measure the tracks they leave. This huge, international project is directed at finding the Higgs boson, the subatomic "God particle" that physicists believe could help explain the origin of the universe.

SMU Physics Department Chairman Ryszard Stroynowski is U.S. Coordinator for the Liquid Argon Calorimeter at the heart of the Atlas particle detector, which will track the high-energy debris left by the collision of particles. Of the almost 2,100 participants in the ATLAS collaboration, about 420 are U.S. physicists, engineers, and graduate students from 38 universities and four national laboratories, and these U.S. collaborators are supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

SMU Physics Department faculty members Robert Kehoe and Jingbo Ye have worked with Stroynowski on the project, as well as Fredrick Olness, who helped with theoretical calculations. Postdoctoral students Julia Hoffman, David Joffe, Daniel Goldin, Peter Renkel and Haleh Hadavand are part of the team, as well as graduate students Ana Firan, Renat Ishmukhametov, Kamile Dindar, Azzedin Kasmi, Ryan Rios, Rozmin Daya, Yuri Ilchenko, Zihua Liang, Travis Howe and Pavel Zarzhitsky.

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