Glasgow scientists celebrate LHC collisions

Scientists at Glasgow are celebrating the successful restart of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland.

More than 70 staff within the Particle Physics Experiment Group (PPE) in the Department of Physics and Astronomy are involved in activities at CERN, including the ATLAS and LHCb experiments, both of which successfully recorded the first LHC collisions yesterday.

The LHC experiments will search for new discoveries from the head-on collisions of protons and learn about the forces responsible for shaping the universe.

ATLAS is the largest experiment that the team from Glasgow is involved in, and includes: physics studies in preparation for data-taking, software development, and construction and operation of the silicon tracker. One of the key aims of ATLAS is  to discover the elusive Higgs boson, the missing element of the Standard Model of Particle Physics.Atlas experiment

The LHCb experiment was set up to discover the nature of the matter-antimatter asymmetry in the early Universe. The Glasgow team worked on the silicon tracking detector as well as developing software for the experiment, and are also making physics studies in preparation for data-taking.

The Glasgow group has eight academics, 11 honorary research fellows, 19 research associates, and 23 postgraduate students, together with a Scottish Universities Physics Alliance research fellowship and four Science and Technologies Facilities Council fellows.

Craig Buttar, Reader in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and member of the PPE Group, said: “The progress that’s been made at the LHC since it was restarted has been incredible.

“We have members of the PPE group based at CERN playing key roles in operating the ATLAS and LHCb experiments and understanding the first data, and others handling data management. Soon, we’ll be receiving data from CERN which we’ll need to examine using the computing grid developed specifically for UK universities, and led by Glasgow, to process the data from CERN.

“Glasgow has been involved in experiments at CERN since the 1970s and continues to play major roles in the experiments carried out there. We have a very high profile given the size of the group and we’ve carved out significant roles in detector construction, commissioning and data analysis.”

“It’s the start of a great adventure in physics. We have this fantastic new tool and now we can really start to challenge the standard model of particle physics.”

Next on the LHC schedule is an intense commissioning phase aimed at increasing the beam intensity and accelerating the beams. All being well, by Christmas, the LHC should reach 1.2 TeV per beam, and have provided high quality collision data for the experiments’ calibrations.

CERN is actively recruiting graduates from Glasgow having sent a delegation over from Switzerland especially to attend the recent Science Careers Fair. University staff can read more about the science fair on MyGlasgow (on-campus access only).

For more information contact Stuart Forsyth in the University of Glasgow Media Relations Office on 0141 330 4831 or email

Further information:



Department of Physics & Astronomy

Glasgow PPE Group

First published: 24 November 2009