The ATLAS Experiment at the LHC: Revealing the Subatomic World
2017-18 CUSP Distinguished Speaker Series
Monday, October 30, 2017
Much of our insight into the subatomic world comes from experiments that smash together particles at the highest available energies in order to understand the fundamental constituents of matter and the forces that bind them together. In order to be able to discover and explore nature at these small scales, we must build some of the world’s largest scientific instruments. Prof. Tuts will take you on a journey into the subatomic world using one such instrument; into a world of quarks, leptons, bosons, where until 2012 a key element, the long sought after Higgs boson (sometimes popularly called the God particle), was still missing. What is the Higgs boson and why is it important? How was the Higgs boson discovered? The huge ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the CERN Laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland is as tall as an eight story building and was used to make this and many other discoveries. Prof. Tuts will discuss how the ATLAS detector is used to record many trillions of ‘digital pictures’ of the head-on collisions of protons with protons travelling at near the speed of light. That recorded data was analyzed by 3,000 ATLAS physicists from around the world to discover, together with the CMS experiment at CERN, the Higgs boson. The theoretical work, by Higgs and Englert, that had predicted the Higgs boson existence, 50 years earlier, was rewarded with the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics after the discovery by ATLAS and CMS. We have only started to explore this new energy regime, and we hope that many new discoveries are in store for us.
Michael Tuts is an experimental particle physicist who has spent his career studying the fundamental particles and forces that make up our world. After obtaining his PhD in 1979, he joined the Columbia University Physics Department faculty in 1983, where he has been ever since. He has worked on experimental high energy physics collaborations that have grown larger as accelerators have become more and more powerful over the decades. He was a member of, and served as a co-spokesperson for, the CUSB experiment at the Cornell Electron Storage Ring that had about 25 physicists working on it. He then became a founding member of the D-Zero experiment at Fermilab (the highest energy accelerator ever built in the US) with around 600 colleagues, and most recently served as the US Operations Program Manager for the ATLAS experiment at CERN, where he has about 3,000 colleagues he works with. Over this time he has been an author on over 1,200 journal publications from these experiments. He is now involved in working on an upgrade to the ATLAS detector, which is expected to operate well into the 2030s. He recently finished a term as the Chair of the Physics Department, and looks forward to returning to teach introductory physics classes.