SMU Department of Physics

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

Initial 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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FOX 4 DFW: SMU’s supercomputer aids in search for particles present during Big Bang

Thomas Coan, neutrinos, SMUSMU physicist Thomas E. Coan talked with Fox 4 DFW reporter Dan Godwin about the neutrino, an elusive fundamental particle that scientists are working to understand using one of the most powerful physics experiments in the world.

Godwin hosted Coan on the program Fox4Ward on Nov. 30, 2014. Coan and Godwin discussed neutrinos, one of the most elusive particles in the Standard Model’s “particle zoo.” Continue reading

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KERA Think: Tiny Particles, Big Impact

Tom Coan, neutrinos, SMU, physics, NOvAKERA public radio 90.1 hosted SMU physicist Thomas E. Coan on Krys Boyd‘s “Think” program Oct. 29. Coan and Boyd discussed neutrinos, one of the most elusive particles in the Standard Model’s “particle zoo.”

Neutrinos are the subject of the NOvA experiment, with the goal to better understand the origins of matter and the inner workings of the universe. Continue reading

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Hunt begins for elusive neutrino particle at one of the world’s largest, most powerful detectors

NOvA, SMU, Thomas Coan, Fermilab, neutrinosWhen scientists pour 3.0 million gallons of mineral oil into what are essentially 350,000 giant plastic tubes, the possibility of a leak can’t be overlooked, says SMU physicist Thomas E. Coan.

The oil and tubes are part of the integral structure of the world’s newest experiment to understand neutrinos — invisible fundamental particles so abundant they constantly bombard us and pass through us at a rate of more than 100,000 billion particles a second. Continue reading

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KERA: Telescope-Wielding Twosome: High School Students Discover New Stars

SMU, Lake Highlands, binary star, discovery, Fritz, Barton, Quark, KERAReporter Courtney Collins at public radio station KERA covered the discovery of five stars by two Dallas high school students in an SMU summer physics research program.

Quarknet enabled the students to analyze data gleaned from a high-powered telescope in the New Mexico desert. All five stars are pairs of stars that orbit around each other so closely that their outer atmospheres touch, then dim and brighten as one emerges from behind the other. Continue reading

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