Research News

Media Advisory: Official opening of virtual control room allows Vanderbilt physicists to participate in world’s largest particle accelerator without leaving campus

On Tuesday, March 30, Vanderbilt’s high-energy physicists are opening a virtual control room that will allow them to participate fully in the experiments that will be conducted on the world’s largest particle accelerator, the $9 billion Large Hadron Collider located in Switzerland. The LHC is beginning its research program on Tuesday and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), which operates the machine, has invited the world’s science press to cover the event.

Six Vanderbilt physics professors and 14 students will be using the center to participate in this major, interdisciplinary physics project, which will be addressing questions such as: What is the origin of mass? What is the nature of the primordial energy/matter soup that filled the universe immediately after the Big Bang? What is the mysterious dark matter that affects the shapes of galaxies but which scientists haven’t been able to detect directly.?
The walls of the new control room are blanketed with 23 flat-panel displays of various sizes. One of the large displays is hooked into a 24/7 videoconferencing system that allows the Vanderbilt participants to communicate with colleagues working in the LHC control rooms in Switzerland. Other screens show the conditions of the specific particle detector that the Vanderbilt scientists are working on. Yet another screen is filled with the scientist’s equivalent of idiot lights: buttons that turn from green to red if the monitoring computer detects that something isn’t working right.
Reporters are welcome to visit the control room and interview the scientists and students about their research projects.

Vanderbilt virtual Large Hadron Collider control room

WHEN: 9 to 11 a.m. on Tuesday, March 30

WHERE:  Stevenson Center, Room 6334 (Call to arrange for on campus parking.)

Contact: David F. Salisbury, (615) 322-NEWS