Until now, the world's biggest accelerator has been at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, also known as Fermilab, near Chicago, Ill. Witherell was director of Fermilab from 1999 to 2005, when he returned to lead UCSB's research administration. He has strong ties to the CMS experiment. "I spent my life doing particle physics research, and I am anticipating great discoveries from CMS," Witherell says.
The turning on of the LHC represents the start of a scientific program that will address some of the most pressing questions in particle physics and cosmology. The UCSB group has formed several teams to analyze the mountain of data that will be generated.
"CMS is a powerful and versatile detector, which can be used to perform many different experiments," Stuart explains. Noting that high-energy collisions can create sub-atomic particles from energy, Stuart adds, "If we are lucky, we may discover particles that would explain the dark matter inferred by astrophysicists from observations of galactic motions. This would be really exciting."
Particle physicists have been searching for a deep understanding of matter and energy, including an explanation for the origin of mass, which could be found if physicists are able to discover the so-called "Higgs boson,'' the particle that causes other particles to have mass. Other theorists have speculated that the LHC could even reveal new spatial dimensions with properties vastly different from those with which we are familiar.
With so many possibilities for discovery, the anticipation for the startup of this program has been enormous. "It's great that the machine has turned on," Campagnari says. "I don't think we're going to turn it on in September and make discoveries in October. But discoveries could start coming soon and could happen over many years."
"This is a his
|Contact: George Foulsham|
University of California - Santa Barbara