Baylor Invited To Join Experimental Physics Lab
by Judy Long
Baylor University has joined one of the world's largest experimental physics collaborations - the Collider Detector at Fermilab (CDF) collaboration - at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Chicago in Batavia, Ill. The CDF collaboration consists of 59 universities and labs from around the world that work together at the federally funded laboratory to advance understanding of the nature of matter and energy.
"We're delighted that Baylor is now among many prominent universities on CDF, a world-class high energy physics experiment at Fermilab. It's a tremendous milestone for our growing experimental high energy physics research program," said Dr. Jay Dittmann, assistant professor of physics at Baylor and the principal investigator in the experimental high energy physics group, which researches particle collisions.
"We are studying the building blocks of nature. The goal is to discover the identity and properties of the particles that make up the universe and to understand the interactions between those particles. In order to do that, we need powerful particle accelerators like the Tevatron at Fermilab," Dittmann said.
Fermilab provides leadership and resources for qualified researchers to experiment at the frontiers of high energy physics and related disciplines. CDF uses the Tevatron, the world's highest-energy particle accelerator, to study collisions of the minute particles.
"The Tevatron works by accelerating protons and anti-protons to almost the speed of light and then colliding them. There's a tremendous amount of energy in each collision, producing a whole bunch of particles. We study the properties of these particles, and sometimes we even discover new ones," Dittmann said.
One new particle, the top quark, was discovered at Fermilab in 1995. Dittmann said physicists are looking for yet another particle, the Higgs Boson, which is the last undiscovered piece of the Standard Model of Fundamental Particles and Interactions. Detecting signs of it experimentally would be a huge achievement for high energy physics, bringing closure to the theoretical predictions of its existence.
Dittmann's research team includes Nils Krumnack, a Baylor post-doctoral fellow who lives in Illinois and works onsite at CDF, and two Baylor undergraduates, senior Charlie Malmberg and junior Jon Wilson. Malmberg, a University Scholar from San Antonio, will pursue doctoral studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill after spring graduation. A second physics professor, Dr. Wickramasinghe Ariyasinghe, and a physics graduate student, Samantha Hewamanage, from Sri Lanka, will join the team this summer.
Before joining Baylor's faculty in 2003, Dittmann, who received his doctorate in physics from Duke University, was a Leon M. Lederman Fellow at Fermilab.