SMU Department of Physics

SMU physicists: CERN’s Large Hadron Collider is once again smashing protons, taking data

Following its annual winter break, the most powerful collider in the world has been switched back on.

Geneva-based CERN’s Large Hadron Collider has been fine-tuned using low-intensity beams and pilot proton collisions. Now the LHC and its experiments are ready to take an abundance of data.

The goal is to improve understanding of fundamental physics, driving future innovation and inventions. Continue reading

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Nearby massive star explosion 30 million years ago equaled brightness of 100 million suns

A giant star that exploded 30 million years ago in a galaxy near Earth had a radius prior to going supernova that was 200 times larger than our sun, say astrophysicists at SMU.

The massive explosion, Supernova 2013j, was one of the closest to Earth in recent years. Analysis of the exploding star’s light curve and color spectrum found its sudden blast hurled material from it at 10,000 kilometers a second. Continue reading

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SMU 2015 research efforts broadly noted in a variety of ways for world-changing impact

SMU scientists and their research have a global reach that is frequently noted, beyond peer publications and media mentions.

It was a good year for SMU faculty and student research efforts. Here’s a small sampling of public and published acknowledgements during 2015, ranging from research modeling that made the cover of a scientific journal to research findings presented as evidence at government hearings. Continue reading

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Top Quark: Precise particle measurement improves subatomic tool probing mysteries of universe

Top Quark, physics, Higgs boson, FermilabPhysicists at Southern Methodist University have a new precise measurement of a key subatomic particle, opening the door to better understanding of our universe.

The researchers calculated the new measurement for a critical characteristic — mass — of the Top Quark. The new value adds growing uncertainty to physics’ Standard Model. Continue reading

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Fermilab experiment observes change in neutrinos from one type to another over 500 miles

Nova, neutrinos, Fermilab, SMU, CoanInitial data from a new U.S.–based physics experiment indicates scientists are a step closer to understanding neutrinos, the second most abundant particle in the universe, says SMU physics professor Thomas Coan, a principal investigator on the project.

Neutrinos are little understood, but indications are they hold clues to why matter overwhelmingly survived after the Big Bang instead of just energy in the form of light. Continue reading

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1st proton collisions at the world’s largest science experiment expected to start the first or second week of June

Dallas Hall w scatterThe schedule announcement came during an international physics conference on the SMU campus from senior research scientist Albert De Roeck, a staff member at CERN and a leading scientist on one of the Large Hadron Collider‘s key experiments in Geneva.

“It will be about another six weeks to commission the machine, and many things can still happen on the way,” said De Roeck. The LHC in early April was restarted for its second three-year run after a two-year pause to upgrade the machine to operate at higher energies. At higher energy, physicists worldwide expect to see new discoveries about the laws that govern our natural universe. Continue reading

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Physicists tune Large Hadron Collider to find “sweet spot” in high-energy proton smasher

ATLAS, Large Hadron Collider, Run 2, SMU, HiggsStart up of the world’s largest science experiment is underway — with protons traveling in opposite directions at almost the speed of light in the deep underground tunnel called the Large Hadron Collider straddling France and Switzerland.

As protons collide, physicists will peer into the resulting particle showers for new discoveries about the universe, said Ryszard Stroynowski, Southern Methodist University, a collaborator on the LHC. Continue reading

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National Public Radio’s Science Friday: Understanding the dark side of physics

dark matter, dark energy, jodi cooley, physics, sum, CDMS, science fridaySMU physicist Jodi Cooley was a guest of National Public Radio’s Science Friday show to share in a discussion about what physicists know and don’t know about mysterious dark matter. Dark matter is believed to make up the bulk of the matter in the universe.

Cooley, an assistant professor in the SMU Department of Physics, is an experimental particle physicist and part of a scientific team searching for dark matter. Continue reading

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Fermilab Symmetry: From the Standard Model to space

Ryan Rios, CERNSymmetry Magazine, the monthly publication of the Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, featured SMU physics alum Ryan Rios in an article about physicists working at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

Rios was a graduate student in the SMU Department of Physics and as part of a team led by SMU Physics Professor Ryszard Stroynowski spent from 2007 to 2012 as a member of the ATLAS experiment at Switzerland-based CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. Continue reading

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