McGill physicists to help launch world's most powerful particle accelerator


Vast physics experiment will recreate conditions in the Universe just after the Big Bang

An international team of physicists, including researchers from McGill University, will make history Sept. 10 as they circulate a beam in the world’s most powerful particle accelerator. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the largest machine ever created to explore the world’s tiniest particles. Its mission is to recreate the conditions in the universe just seconds after the Big Bang so that scientists can shed light on the early evolution of the universe.

McGill professors Brigitte Vachon, Francois Corriveau, Steven Robertson and Andreas Warburton of the Department of Physics are members of the international team participating in the project, known as the ATLAS experiment. Over the coming years, the outcome of LHC particle collisions will be recorded by the ATLAS detector. The McGill scientists’ responsibilities include developing the trigger system designed to identify interesting particle collision events taking place inside the ATLAS detector.

The LHC is housed in Geneva, Switzerland and operated by CERN (the European Laboratory for Particle Physics). In a 27-kilometre tunnel, relying on technologies that would not have been possible 30 years ago, the accelerator is expected to produce beams seven times more energetic than any previous machine. When the accelerator reaches its design performance by about 2010, those beams will be 30 times more intense.

To mark this event, McGill’s Physics Department will host a media event in Montreal in conjunction with CERN in Geneva. Several McGill team members will be available for interviews, and a videoconference that will allow participants to view and speak with scientists at the site.

  • What: The Big Bang Day/Media Day in Geneva via videoconference and Montreal events
  • Where: McGill University Physics Department, Rutherford Building, 3600 University
  • When: Wednesday, September 10, a live video broadcast from CERN begins at 9 a.m.; at 12:30 p.m., there will be a presentation for media about McGill research on the ATLAS experiment, followed by the live videoconference with CERN at 1p.m.; at 3:30 p.m. there will be a scientific presentation about LHC discovery prospects by renowned physicist Prof. Cliff Burgess, McMaster University/Perimeter Institute.

On the web:

Contact Information

Cynthia Lee
Media Relations Office
cynthia.lee [at]
Office Phone: