New particle discovery an exciting leap forward

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

University of Adelaide scientists say the discovery of a new particle at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the most important discovery in particle physics in 30 years.

The LHC has been built at CERN, the European centre for particle physics near Geneva, Switzerland. Using the collider, international teams of scientists are attempting to reproduce and understand the origins of the Big Bang. High-energy particle beams are collided in the detector to look for new particles.

CERN has today announced that the ATLAS and CMS experiments have observed a Bose particle (boson) never seen before. It appears consistent with expectations of the highly sought after 'Higgs boson'.

University of Adelaide physics researchers are among the international team of scientists involved in the ATLAS experiment, one of seven different particle detector experiments at the LHC.

"Today's announcement that a new particle has been observed at CERN is the most exciting discovery in particle physics in almost 30 years," says Professor Anthony Thomas, Elder Professor and Australian Laureate Fellow at the University of Adelaide's School of Chemistry & Physics.

"There's more work yet to be done to prove that this is the Higgs boson, but it certainly looks like it," he says.

"Our ultimate hope is that the Large Hadron Collider will create new particles that may completely change our understanding of particle physics and the known laws of the Universe. The fact that this new particle has already been detected is a major step in the right direction.

"If we're able to make particles that haven't existed since the Big Bang, this could radically alter our understanding of how the Universe works."

Researchers in the University of Adelaide's School of Chemistry & Physics are directly linked to the ATLAS experiment. The University also has four chief investigators, four postdoctoral researchers and four students working with the ARC Centre of Excellence for Particle Physics at the Tera-scale (CoEPP), and Professor Thomas is Director of its Adelaide node.

Adelaide researchers will this week attend the 36th International Conference on High Energy Physics, being held in Melbourne.


Contact Details

Professor Anthony Thomas
ARC Australian Laureate Fellow and Elder Professor of Physics
School of Physical Sciences
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 3547
Mobile: 0420 961 148

Dr Paul Jackson
School of Chemistry & Physics
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 0269
Mobile: 0451 166 320

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762