CoE for Particle Physics Launched

20 June 2011

The Particle Physics Group in the School of Physics is part of the Centre of Excellence for Particle Physics at the Terascale (CoEPP), a new ARC research centre for particle physics. The Centre, opened by Senator Kim Carr at the University of Melbourne recently, will help scientists find answers to some of the fundamental questions in physics as well as help Australian scientists link in with the world's best research projects.

For over twenty years, particle physicists from Australia have been contributing to exploratory research into how our universe began. Now with the opening of the CoEPP they might actually find out.

Assoc. Professor Kevin Varvell, Head, Particle Physics Group in the School and the Sydney Node Director for CoEPP, said the new Centre provides a very significant boost to the University of Sydney's research effort in particle physics.

"In addition to our experimental research as part of the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, which will now be expanded, Sydney will also be able to contribute to theoretical research related to LHC physics, giving us a much more rounded program."

Director of CoEPP, Professor Geoff Taylor of the School of Physics at the University of Melbourne, said by probing fundamental particle interactions at higher energies, more would be discovered about the early stages of the evolution of the universe after the Big Bang.

"Exciting new physics such as the existence of extra dimensions of space, microscopic black holes, and an extension of relativity called super symmetry, are possible discoveries motivated by plausible extensions of the standard model of particle physics."

"The Centre will greatly expand Australia's role in the largest pure science enterprise on planet Earth, the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider, and our collective scientific effort will leave a legacy of enhanced national capability at the forefront of this intellectual endeavour," Professor Taylor said.

The LHC, as it is known, is a 27km long collider ring based underground in Geneva, Switzerland, designed to recreate conditions as they were shortly after the Big Bang and hence at the beginning of the universe.

Opening the Centre at the University of Melbourne, the Minister for Innovation, Industry and Science, Senator Kim Carr, said support for the Centre is helping our scientists link with the world's best research equipment.

"The LHC has unprecedented energy needed to probe big questions like the origins of mass, the secrets of the big bang and dark matter, and the search for new dimensions in space. Having access to this equipment is vital for the Centre's researchers," Senator Carr said.

With partners including the University of Adelaide, Monash University, the University of Sydney and a list of international collaborators, the CoEPP will explore particle physics at terascale energies (a million million electron volts).

Contact: Alison Muir

Phone: 02 9036 5194

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