Release Date: August 10, 2007
Media Contact: Stephen King, External Relations
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University of Regina to host Canada-wide “Big Bang Machine” workshop
The University of Regina is hosting the 6th Canadian ATLAS particle physics workshop from August 13-14, the first time this national event has been held at the U of R. The workshop will involve Canadian physicists from nine institutions, and will focus on Canada’s participation in ATLAS, the so-called “Big Bang Machine” experiment that will begin operation later this year in Switzerland.

ATLAS is the largest experiment in the history of the physical sciences. The experiment involves 35 countries, 164 institutions and close to 2,000 scientists. It is based at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a new particle accelerator located near Geneva, Switzerland at CERN – the world’s largest particle physics laboratory. The $9.5 billion LHC is located 100 metres underground in a 16-mile long circular tunnel which runs under the Franco-Swiss border.

Inside the LHC tunnel, two particle beams will be accelerated to extremely high energies, and then crashed into each other forty million times per second. The resulting conditions will correspond to those which existed approximately 1/10,000,000,000 of a second after the “Big Bang,” when the temperature was 1,000,000,000,000,000 degrees Celsius. The 7,000 tonne ATLAS detector will electronically register these conditions, allowing physicists to analyze the reactions that created them.

The experiment, which has been 15 years in the making, will begin collecting data this fall. As project collaborators, the University of Regina and the other participating Canadian universities and labs will have access to the data.

The August 13-14 workshop at the U of R will allow the physicists to co-ordinate their participation in the experiment. The nine universities and labs that will participate in the workshop at the U of R include: the University of Toronto, the University of Victoria, Carleton University, McGill University, Simon Fraser University, the University of Alberta, the University of British Columbia, the University of Regina, and Triumf Laboratory. Special guests include Dr. Robert Orr, spokesperson for ATLAS Canada and professor at the University of Toronto, William Trischuk, Director of the Institute of Particle Physics in Canada, Katherine Bergman, Dean of Science at the U of R, and Dave Gauthier, VP of Research at the U of R.

“Over the next several years, the ATLAS project will be important for the U of R, both in terms of providing world-class research opportunities for our University and recruiting faculty and students,” says Gauthier. “The U of R is truly fortunate to be one of the Canadian universities involved in such an important discovery experiment and we are pleased to join our Canadian university partners as integral players in this project.”

Kamal Benslama, who is a professor at the U of R and the organizer of the workshop, agrees.

“ATLAS opens up a new and exciting era not just for the U of R, but for universities across Canada and all over the world,” Benslama says. “We are working to answer fundamental questions such as how the universe began and what makes up the matter around us, and the potential is there for some truly important discoveries in the near future.”

An agenda of the August 13-14 ATLAS workshop can be viewed at:

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