Coast to Coast Seminar Series: "Experimental Techniques in Particle Physics or 'What are they <b>really</b> doing in Geneva?!'"

Tuesday, February 2, 2010
11:30 - 12:30

Dr. Michel Vetterli
Department of Physics, Simon Fraser University / TRIUMF


With the recent startup of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Geneva, there has been renewed interest in particle physics, which has led to a plethora of articles and presentations for the public on what is being done at the new experiments. This colloquium will present not the what, but the how. How do physicists study Nature at incredibly small distance scales? It is perhaps paradoxical that viewing the world at very small scale requires the largest machines ever built. This talk will present the basic physics concepts involved in experimental subatomic physics. This includes a description of the gigantic accelerators (the probes), and detectors (the eyes) used. Particle physics experiments produce an enormous amount of data. This talk will also discuss the large-scale computing necessary to mine these data, as well as the advanced analysis techniques required to extract very rare events from the preponderance of well-understood background processes.