Big Bang: from theory to reality
Physics students at the University of Adelaide now have the chance to undertake research involving the Large Hadron Collider - the world's largest and highest-energy particle accelerator.
The University of Adelaide is one of only four universities in Australia to be linked to the Large Hadron Collider, thanks to the establishment of a new national Centre of Excellence for Particle Physics at the Tera-Scale.
The Australian Research Council has committed more than $25 million to the new Centre of Excellence, with an additional $8 million in support from partner institutions.
As a partner, the University of Adelaide's School of Chemistry & Physics stands to receive up to $6 million of this funding and will join the ATLAS Collaboration, which built and will operate one of the two major experiments at the Collider.
"The Large Hadron Collider is a major step forward in physics research, and the University of Adelaide is now part of this adventure in science," said Professor Anthony Thomas, Australian Laureate Fellow at the University of Adelaide and Associate Director of the new Centre of Excellence for Particle Physics at the Tera-Scale.
"This means that staff and postgraduate students can now be actively engaged in research that is directly linked to the Large Hadron Collider, which is very exciting news for us. It's especially exciting for students - those doing Masters or PhDs - who may be able to travel to Europe to work on the Collider as part of their degree," he said.
The Large Hadron Collider - built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) near Geneva, Switzerland - is located about 175 metres underground and features a tunnel more than 26 kilometres in circumference.
In simple terms, the Collider is being used by scientists to attempt to reproduce and understand the origins of the Big Bang. High-energy particle beams are collided in the detector, which scientists hope will lead to the creation of new particles that may completely change our understanding of particle physics.
"It's all about making particles that haven't existed since the Big Bang, with the ultimate aim to reveal new particles or new laws of physics," Professor Thomas said.
"This is extremely exciting and important work. It brings together the theoretical side of physics with practical experimentation, and we hope it will enable a huge leap ahead in our understanding of how the universe works at a fundamental level."
Story by David Ellis