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UTA hosts 150 leading international physicists working to explain the origins of the universe

Monday, January 11, 2016

Media Contact: Louisa Kellie, Office: 817‑272‑0864, Cell: 817-524-8926, louisa.kellie@uta.edu

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!50 physicists hosted by UTA

UTA hosts 150 international physicists working on the DUNE collaboration.  

Some 150 leading international physicists will convene at The University of Texas at Arlington Jan.12-15, 2016, to collaborate on the game-changing particle physics experiment known as the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, or DUNE.

The U.S. Department of Energy project focuses on nearly massless subatomic particles and is led by the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois. The project aims to solve the question of how the universe came to consist of matter rather than antimatter – in other words, to explain the origins of the universe and why we exist at all.

 “DUNE is the next big thing in particle physics,” said Jaehoon Yu, UTA physics professor and organizer of the meeting. “UTA’s key role in this billion-dollar, U.S.-led planned project consolidates our international reputation as a power-house in this field.”

Dr. Jaehoon Yu explains the DUNE experiment.

Within DUNE, Dr. Yu is convening the Exotics Group that will search for Dark Matter, while UTA associate physics professor Dr. Amir Farbin has a leading role in designing the computing systems model for the project.

Both are members of UTA’s High Energy Physics group within the College of Science, which played a key role in the search for the Higgs Boson – also known as the “God Particle” – at the Large Hadron Collider ATLAS experiments in Switzerland.

Duane Dimos, UTA vice president for research, noted that DUNE includes almost 800 collaborators from 145 institutions and 26 countries around the world and said the project exemplifies the international effort that characterizes particle physics experiments.

“Yet again, UTA is taking on a high-profile role that strengthens our reputation as a leading research institution, providing opportunities for our faculty and students to work with international experts at the highest level,” Dimos said.

Why is DUNE looking at the Neutrino?

Neutrinos are subatomic particles that may offer an answer to the lingering mystery of the universe's matter-antimatter imbalance.

Physics tells us that matter is created side by side with antimatter. But if matter and antimatter are produced equally, then all of the matter created in the early universe should have been cancelled out by equal amounts of antimatter, eliminating existence itself instantly. And we wouldn’t be here. 

Neutrinos and their antimatter antineutrinos oscillate as they move through space, changing “flavor," form and mass.

Scientists hope that by observing and comparing the oscillations of neutrinos and antineutrinos some difference will become apparent that could explain the matter-antimatter imbalance and hence how our universe came to exist.

The DUNE experiment also could shed light on other physical processes such as Dark Matter, which have been largely unexplained up to now.

What does the DUNE experiment involve?

The DUNE experiment involves firing an intense neutrino beam from Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago, to the DUNE far detector in the Sanford Underground Research Facility in South Dakota; a distance of 800 miles.

The DUNE far detector is conceived as four vast liquid argon time projection chambers, each consisting of a total volume of 20,000 tons of liquid argon.

These time projection chambers will provide 3D images of the particles produced in neutrino interactions.

The first time projection chambers were developed in 1974 by David Nygren, Presidential Distinguished Professor of Physics in UTA’s College of Science, to enable accurate and complete capture of results when high-energy particles collide. Such collisions can lead to the production of hundreds or even thousands of new particles.

Since then, the time projection chamber has been used worldwide for more than three decades in particle detection and discovery, ranging from relativistic heavy ion collisions to the search for Dark Matter and extremely rare nuclear decays.

About The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of more than 51,000 students in campus-based and online degree programs and is the second-largest institution in The University of Texas System. The Chronicle of Higher Education ranked UTA as one of the 20 fastest-growing public research universities in the nation in 2014. U.S. News & World Report ranks UTA fifth in the nation for undergraduate diversity. The University is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and is ranked as the top four-year college in Texas for veterans on Military Times’ 2016 Best for Vets list. Visit http://www.uta.edu to learn more, and find UTA rankings and recognition at http://www.uta.edu/uta/about/rankings.php.

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