[News-releases] Stronger, Higher, Faster: Canadians Savour Thrill of Victory at Physics Frontier

Tim Meyer tmeyer at triumf.ca
Wed Dec 9 06:55:10 PST 2009

News Release | For Immediate Release | December 09, 2009

World-Record Energy Collisions Achieved at LHC Particle Accelerator in

(Vancouver, BC) - On Tuesday evening, December 8th, thousands of physicists
around the world cheered as CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) smashed
together subatomic particles at the highest energies ever reached by a
man-made accelerator and the giant ATLAS detector observed the products of
the record-breaking reactions whizzing through its sophisticated tracking
devices.  Some of the loudest cheers were from Canadians who helped design,
build, and commission LHC and ATLAS which are launching a new era of
discovery about how the universe works.

"This is the breakthrough moment we have all been waiting for," said Rob
McPherson, spokesperson and Principal Investigator for the 150 person
Canadian team, professor at the University of Victoria, and Institute of
Particle Physics Research Scientist. "The LHC was conceived of more than two
decades ago, and today's success represents the start of a new era in our
understanding of matter and the universe."  The new world record is set by
the collisions of more than 10 billion protons per bunch at a total energy
of 2.38 trillion electron volts, or TeV, per collision. 

The Large Hadron Collider accelerates two counter-rotating beams of protons
to nearly the speed of light and then brings them into collision inside
giant, cathedral-sized detectors that study the subatomic debris that comes
flying outward.  The Canadian team plays a leading role in the ATLAS
detector, akin to a gigantic digital camera that examines the millions of
collisions per second and identifies which ones should be stored and
analyzed in more detail.  The project goals are just as awe-inspiring: probe
the structure of space to search for extra dimensions, identify and study
why matter has mass in the universe, and even explore theories that connect
subatomic particles to the cosmos through dark matter and dark energy.  

"This is it," said Nigel S. Lockyer, director of TRIUMF, Canada's national
laboratory for particle and nuclear physics that led Canadian involvement in
the project. "We are the edge of what we know and are boldly stepping
forward: we are now doing physics that has never been done before!  It's
amazing...and I'm glad Canada has a piece of the action."  

TRIUMF worked with universities and companies across Canada to contribute
key elements of the Large Hadron Collider accelerator itself as well as the
ATLAS detector.  TRIUMF is also home to one of the ten supercomputer (so
called Tier-1) data centres around the world that processes the enormous
volumes of data from the ATLAS experiment and distributes it to the
thousands of scientists involved.  In fact, today's collisions "showed up"
in the Canadian computer centre within hours, ready for Canadian scientists
to start analyzing them. 

These developments come just three weeks after the LHC restart,
demonstrating the excellent performance of the machine. First low-energy
beams were injected into the LHC on Friday 20 November.  On Monday 23
November, two low-energy beams circulated together for the first time, and
the four giant LHC detectors recorded their first collision data.  Next
steps are to increase the energy and number of collisions over the next
months as physicists scour the data for signs of the Higgs Boson,
supersymmetry, new dimensions in space, and whatever other secrets nature
has in store.

Follow LHC progress on twitter at http://www.twitter.com/cern.  For photos,
video and latest information see


Timothy I. Meyer, Ph.D.
Head, Strategic Planning & Communications TRIUMF
4004 Wesbrook Mall
Vancouver, BC  V6T 2A3  CANADA
Tel: 604-222-7674
Fax: 604-222-3791
Cell: 650-464-8955
E-mail: tmeyer at triumf.ca
WWW: http://www.triumf.ca

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