(July 5, 2012) – Results of breakthrough findings from experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland announced Wednesday are of special significance to Fresno State faculty, students and postdoctoral fellows who have participated in this research into the origins of our universe.
"This is one of those discoveries for which there are not enough grand words to describe how important this is for our understanding of the universe,” said Dr. Douglas Singleton, chair of the Department of Physics housed within Fresno State’s College of Science and Mathematics.
Dr. Yongsheng Gao, a physics professor, heads Fresno State’sparticipation in this cutting-edge experimental high-energy physicsresearch.
Gao and Fresno State students have been involved in the project for five years with scientists from around the world, all seeking to understand the structure of matter by using the world’s most powerful particle accelerator.
The $10 billion underground LHC accelerates protons to the speed oflight and forces head-on collisions, whose energy is so high that particles,which existed only at the very beginning of the universe, can be reproduced.The collider is operated by the European Organization for Nuclear Research(CERN).
Fresno State has played a key role not onlyin the scientific research, but also in developing systems to share informationfrom the experiments with universities around the United States, including agrowing number of California State University campuses. Fresno State also isleading the effort in building up a CSU Nuclear and Particle Physics Consortium(CSU NUPAC) which now consists of 14 of the 23 CSU campuses.
Fresno State’s participation in the ATLAS (anacronym for A Toroidal LHC ApparatuS) experiment recently received a $511,000 core grant from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Elementary Particle Physics program.
It’s Gao's third large NSF grant since he joined theFresno State faculty in 2007, totaling nearly $1.6 million. This funding alongwith internal support will allow research work at Fresno State on the ATLAS experiment to continue through May 2015.
“This period from now until 2015 will be full of more amazing discoveries about the Higgs and its detailed properties as well as thepossibility of finding other, even more exotic particles,” said Singleton."
Gao said the Fresno State team includes Dr. Cui Lin, a computer scienceprofessor; postdoctoral fellows Harinder Bawa and Andrew Lowe; and five currentstudents.
Fresno State is the only CSU campus on the ATLAS or CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) experiments being conducted at the LHC, which is near Geneva. “This offers our students unique research opportunitiesfor the next 20 years or longer in the search for new physics,” Gao said.
“The latest new discovery of ATLAS and CMS is only the beginning of an exciting new era of high energy physics,” added Gao.
Fresno State is one of 40 American universities (including Harvard, Yale, MIT, Columbia, University of Chicago, University of California, Berkeley and Michigan) and seven nationallaboratories that have had a hand in designing, building and operating the LHC.
The U.S. Department ofEnergy’s Office of Science and the National Science Foundation provide supportfor research and operations at the LHC and also supply computing for theground-breaking experiments.