Leading scientists meet in Glasgow to discuss world’s biggest experiment

Hundreds of the world’s leading physicists gather at Glasgow University this week to discuss final preparations for the world’s biggest scientific experiment.

ATLAS is a particle physics experiment designed to explore the fundamental nature of matter and the basic forces that shape our universe. The ATLAS detector, situated in an underground tunnel near Geneva, will search for new discoveries in the head-on collisions of protons of extraordinarily high energy as it recreates conditions immediately after the Big Bang.

One of the largest collaborative efforts ever attempted in the physical sciences, 1900 physicists from 164 universities and laboratories in 35 countries around the world are participating in the ATLAS experiment. Email, web pages, phone calls and video conferencing keep the scientists in touch but face to face meetings, like the ATLAS Overview Week, are vital to the success of the massive project.

The ATLAS Overview Week, takes place from 9 -13 July in the historic Bute Hall and the Physics and Astronomy Department at the University of Glasgow. It is the first time the overview week has been held in the UK and the honour marks Glasgow University’s significant contribution to the experiment and the centenary year of Britain’s most famous physicist, Lord Kelvin. Glasgow’s Convention Bureau estimate that the conference will boost the city’s economy by almost £1m. The city was chosen ahead of stiff competition from Ann Arbor in Michigan, Toronto and Vancouver.

One of the founder members of the ATLAS collaboration, Glasgow University has constructed many of the silicon microstrip detectors and associated low-mass cables as well as participating in the development of the detector cooling system and module assembly. Through the National E-Science Centre, scientists from the University are also active in physics simulation studies and, most importantly, the computing GRID developments which will be crucial to a meaningful analysis of the huge amount of data the experiment will generate.

Dr Craig Buttar of Glasgow University’s Department of Physics said: "After ten years of hard work designing and building ATLAS it is great to see it coming together. We are now eagerly awaiting the start of the LHC and the exciting science that this will bring."

Away from the main scientific discussions, delegates will be invited to enjoy a conference dinner held in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

Further information:


A large selection of high definition pictures of various stages of the Atlas experiment are available: atlasexperiment.org/press.html

First published: 4 July 2007

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