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Scientists Send First Beam Around Large Hadron Collider

September 10, 2008
N-21, 2008-09

NYU Physicists Part of Geneva-Based Project to Investigate Forces that Shape Universe

Scientists today sent the first beam of protons zooming at nearly the speed of light around the 17-mile Large Hadron Collider (LHC). The LHC, located at the CERN laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, is the world’s most powerful particle accelerator.

An estimated 10,000 people from 60 countries have helped design and build the accelerator and its massive particle detectors, including more than 1,700 scientists, engineers, students and technicians from 94 U.S. universities and laboratories supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science and the National Science Foundation.

A team of physicists from NYU’s Experimental High Energy Physics group is part of this world-wide collaboration, which will investigate the fundamental nature of matter and the basic forces that shape the universe. The collaboration, ATLAS, is based at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, that employs LHC. Members of the NYU team working on this project include Professors Peter Nemethy, Allen Mincer, and Kyle Cranmer and researchers Diego Casadei, Rashid Djilkibaev, Rostislav Konoplich, George Lewis, Christopher Musso, Akira Shibata, and Long Zhao.

For more on NYU’s involvement, go to and click on the “Atlas” tab.

The first circulating beam is a major accomplishment on the way to the project’s ultimate goal: high-energy beams colliding in the centers of the LHC’s particle detectors. The scientists participating in these experiments will analyze these collisions in search of extraordinary discoveries about the nature of the physical universe. The debris of the collisions reveals the nature of fundamental particle processes and may also contain as-yet undiscovered particles.

The energy density in these collisions is similar to that of the early universe less than a billionth of a second after the Big Bang. Beyond revealing a new world of unknown particles, the LHC experiments could explain why those particles exist and behave as they do. They could reveal the origins of mass, shed light on dark matter, uncover hidden symmetries of the universe, and possibly find extra dimensions of space.

The NYU physicists will contribute to the endeavor by developing a method for isolating collisions relevant to these investigations from the large number occurring. At about 2 Mega Bytes of information per event, storing 40 million collisions per second would require one thousand 80 gigabyte disks (the size of a hard disk on a typical personal computer) per second. Because it is not possible for researchers to deal with so much data, ATLAS uses three stages of storing and discarding collisions that ultimately lets the researchers store about one out of 200,000 events. The NYU team is currently focusing on one property of these interactions that allows separation of meaningful from insignificant collisions.

This Press Release is in the following Topics:
Graduate School of Arts and Science, Research

Type: Press Release

ABOVE: The Atlas Detector  BELOW:  CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which will be operational in the latter half of 2007.

ABOVE: The Atlas Detector BELOW: CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which will be operational in the latter half of 2007.

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