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Physics Chair Attends Large Hadron Collider Event at CERN

Apr 16, 2010

Dr. Jim HetrickPhysics Chair Dr. James Hetrick is on sabbatical in Italy this semester. In between sipping cappuccinos, he finds time to work in the Theoretical Physics division at CERN in Geneva, where the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) is located. He was there for the big event on March 30, 2010, when scientists conducted the highest energy collisions ever achieved. The event has been hailed as launching a "new era in science" and will initiate intensive research projects for the next few years. Scientists hope to gain new insights into the nature of the cosmos and its origin.

Dr. Hetrick shares his excitement about the LHC event in this message to Physics majors and friends: 

Message from Physics Chair-at-Large: March 30, 2010

It's 1:30 pm in Geneva, and I just wanted to pass on my excitement at being at CERN today for the first real run of LHC with the highest energy collisions ever produced on Earth!!

This is the beginning of the LHC's physics program for the next several years. I'm working here this week in the Theoretical Physics Group.

The place is swamped with media, and the cafeteria is completely full. My friend Philippe de Forcrand and I managed to get a coffee there before the rush and filled a napkin with algebra. The buzz here is absolutely tangible! We are all listening to the live webcast in our offices.

They had to dump the beam already this morning because of "an electrical perturbation," so the physicists and engineers worked all morning. The amount of engineering-physics here is absolutely staggering!

Just a few minutes ago the first collisions at 7 TeV (seven trillion electronvolts) took place, and the first tracks were recorded. Beautiful!

You can see the photos here, if you haven't already:  

It's rainy today, but the snow on the Alps was visible and beautiful driving in this morning. Near the CERN exit on the road you can see the mountains in the background, which are on top of the LHC tunnels.

Perhaps someday we can do a field trip here!

All the best from this historic day at CERN,

-Professor James Hetrick

Learn more about the Large Hadron Collider:

Hetrick at CERN
Dr. Hetrick in front of CERN's Globe of Science and Innovation building.

Hetrick at CERN
...And working at his CERN office in the Theoretical Physics division.

Hetrick Scribbles
Colleagues share a few algebraic scribbles over coffee.