Birmingham physicists have played a key role in producing the first results from CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, a 27km underground tunnel near Geneva, where scientists are colliding together particles to discover what happened a millionth of a second after the Big Bang.
These results have come out of the ALICE collaboration’s detector which will study the physics from ultra-high energy proton-proton and lead-lead interactions.
Protons were collided at the LHC for the first time on Monday 23 November at relatively low energies. High energy collisions are expected early next year when physicists hope to discover new secrets about the nature of matter and the early universe.
Physicists from the University of Birmingham played a key role in analysing these collisions and producing the first results from the atom-smasher near Geneva. ‘I’m immensely proud of the team who have worked so hard’, said David Evans, head of the University of Birmingham’s ALICE group at the School of Physics and Astronomy. ‘They have been working around the clock at CERN in order to get these results out so quickly.’
The Birmingham group have also designed and built the vital ALICE trigger electronics which instruct the detector to record data after a collision, making decisions in less than a tenth of a millionth of a second. ‘Although we may have to wait a while for the results from high energy collisions’, added Evans, ‘getting results out this early from a new detector is a major achievement. It also shows just how well the detector and the Birmingham-built electronics work.’
The results will appear in European Journal of Physics, arxiv.org/abs/0911.5430