Australians closer to unveiling the secrets of the universe

A new research centre for particle physics at the terascale opened by Senator Kim Carr at the University of Melbourne recently will help scientists find answers to some of the fundamental questions in physics, and help Australian scientists link with the world's best research projects.

For more than 20 years, particle physicists from Australia have been contributing to exploratory research into how our universe began. Now with the opening of the Australian Research Council's Centre of Excellence for Particle Physics at the Terascale (CoEPP), they might actually find out.

Director of CoEPP, Professor Geoff Taylor of the School of Physics at the University of Melbourne said by probing fundamental particle interactions at higher energies, more would be discovered about the early stages of the evolution of the universe after the Big Bang.

"Exciting new physics such as the existence of extra dimensions of space, microscopic black holes, and an extension of relativity called super symmetry, are possible discoveries motivated by plausible extensions of the standard model of particle physics."

"The Centre will greatly expand Australia's role in the largest pure science enterprise on planet Earth, the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider, and our collective scientific effort will leave a legacy of enhanced national capability at the forefront of this intellectual endeavour", Professor Taylor said.

The LHC, as it is known, is a 27km long collider ring based underground in Geneva, Switzerland, designed to recreate conditions as they were shortly after the Big Bang and hence at the beginning of the universe.

Opening the Centre at the University of Melbourne, Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr said support for the Centre is helping our scientists link with the world's best research equipment.

"The LHC has unprecedented energy needed to probe big questions like the origins of mass, the secrets of the big bang and dark matter, and the search for new dimensions in space. Having access to this equipment is vital for the Centre's researchers",Senator Carr said.

With partners including the University of Adelaide, Monash University, the University of Sydney and a list of international collaborators, the CoEPP will explore particle physics at terascale energies (a million million electron volts).

For more Information:
Charlotte Crawford, University Media Unit

Mobile: 0419 789 432,

Office: (03) 8344 8151


Fri, 10 Jun 2011