(Santa Barbara, Calif.) -- Earlier today, some 300 feet below the Earth's surface, in a circular tunnel so extensive that it travels from Switzerland into France and back again, scientists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva fired the first beams of protons that they hope will eventually produce history-making science.
A contingent of more than 40 faculty members, graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, engineers, technicians, and undergraduates from UC Santa Barbara have worked for eight years to help construct the experimental apparatus. The UCSB group is part of an international effort that is now embarking on a 15-year quest to try to answer fundamental questions about the universe.
The startup of the LHC marked a milestone for the UCSB particle physics program. The group has played a key role in constructing one of four major experiments now in place the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS), a complex array of instruments for detecting subatomic particles. The device weighs more than 12,000 tons and is as tall as a four-story building.
UCSB's team is led by four members of its experimental high-energy physics faculty. Professor Joseph Incandela has been in Switzerland for the past year, shepherding the CMS experiment as deputy physics coordinator. Shuttling back and forth between Santa Barbara and Switzerland have been professors Claudio Campagnari, Jeffrey Richman, and David Stuart. The faculty members are unanimous in their praise for CERN's monumental effort in building the LHC, the world's largest particle accelerator.
"This is frontier science on a grand international scale," says Michael Witherell, vice chancellor for research at UCSB, of the university's role in the LHC. "It is remarkable how many important contributions our faculty and students have already made to this historic experiment."
UCSB's initial role in the CMS experi
|Contact: George Foulsham|
University of California - Santa Barbara