4547 ATLAS: On the Road to Discovery

Sunday, February 20, 2011: 9:00 AM
207B (Washington Convention Center )
Thomas LeCompte , Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL
In 1909, Rutherford, Geiger and Marsden discovered the atomic nucleus, by delivering particle beams of the highest energy available at the time into a gold foil.  101 years later, a successor to this experiment,  the Large Hadron Collider, today the world’s most powerful particle accelerator, has begun smashing particles together that are nearly a million times more energetic.

The ATLAS experiment is one of four large experiments at the LHC, involving 3100 scientists from universities and laboratories on every continent except Antarctica.  Millions of proton-proton collisions take place every second in the ATLAS detector, and data from the  products of the most interesting collisions are recorded and scrutinized. The goal is to study the properties and interactions of fundamental particles and to search for and hopefully discover a wide range of new phenomena, from the elusive Higgs boson to the particles of dark matter. This presentation will introduce the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider and review its first results, particularly those that shed light on the question "are quarks truly elementary, or might they be made of something smaller?"