Students to get insight into world’s largest science experiment

Engineering students at the University of Dundee will be given an insight into the world’s largest scientific experiment tomorrow (Thursday 1 February) with a visit to campus from a senior representative of CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research.

Martin Gastal is manager of the CMS experimental area at CERN, which includes the planning, coordination and follow up of all the activities of one of the largest and most advanced machines that human kind has ever built.

It was announced earlier this month that the University of Dundee is now a partner of the CMS Collaboration at CERN. Dundee is the first Scottish university to join the CMS Collaboration, and is one of only five UK institutions, joining Imperial College London, University of Bristol, Brunel University London, and the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

Mr Gastal will deliver a lecture to undergraduate Engineering students and will also meet with researchers at the University to discuss potential projects.

Professor Robert Keatch, Head of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University, said, “We are delighted to welcome Martin to campus and give our students the chance to hear about the work at CERN and the opportunities that arise from the University’s engagement with the CMS Collaboration.

“We are already coordinating projects for undergraduate students in partnership with CMS, and two of our final-year Mechanical Engineering students have site visits planned for 2018 as part of their research.”

The CMS is one of the four main experiments at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN and the CMS Collaboration brings together members of the scientific community from across the globe in a quest to advance humanity’s knowledge of the very basic laws of our universe. The CMS captures and measures data from the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest scientific experiment where recent breakthroughs have included the discovery of the Higgs boson particle, which has helped us understand the origins of mass.

While most of the other UK partners’ involvement in the collaboration has a focus on high energy particle physics, Dundee doesn’t have a particle physics research programme. Its involvement is based around its expertise in materials engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, and computing.

The University of Dundee is engaged with CERN on a number of projects, notably through work led by Professor Amin Abdolvand, Chair of Functional Materials & Photonics. The development of new processes and technologies could impact on the next major upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the so-called High-Luminosity Large Hadron Collider, which aims to increase the potential for discoveries after 2025, unlocking more of science’s greatest mysteries going back to the ‘Big Bang’.

The Compact Muon Solenoid experiment (CMS) is one of the two "general purpose" detectors situated on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the other being ATLAS. Occupying a cathedral-sized cavern under the ground near Cessy, France, and weighing in at around 14,000 tonnes, the CMS has been designed to probe the smallest constituents of matter in an effort to understand some of the most profound questions we can ask of nature. CMS is a general purpose detector designed to investigate a wide range of physics including supersymmetry, extra dimensions and particles that could make up dark matter.

The CMS Collaboration involves over 5000 particle physicists, engineers, technicians and students from around 200 institutes and universities from more than 40 countries.

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