Umthombo 2 - Page 30



Collaborating
to understand
How did the universe begin and where
is it going? How did matter form? What
are we made of? At CERN (the European
Organization for Nuclear Research) in
Switzerland, scientists from around the
world come together to answer our biggest
questions. And UCT researchers are
there among them: running experiments,
analysing results and managing upgrades.
The collaboration between UCT and CERN
was formalised 15 years ago as the UCTCERN Research Centre. Since then, a
national collaboration between South Africa
and CERN has been launched, and we have
been on the frontlines of some of the biggest
scientific collaborations and discoveries.
15 years of working with CERN
2003
• Launch of the UCT-CERN
Research Centre: formed out
of a confluence of research
programmes in the Department
of Physics.
• UCT begins sending
researchers to the Lawrence
Berkeley and Brookhaven
national laboratories: building
capacity in preparation for
collaboration with CERN.
• Discovery of jet-quenching:
Relativistic Heavy-Ion Collider
(RHIC) at Brookhaven finds
evidence of jet-quenching:
the reduction of energy in the
streams of particles that emerge
when ultra-high-energy
particles collide.
2004
• Recreation of the perfect
liquid: RHIC produces a
state of matter thought to
have existed in the earliest
moments of the universe. This,
coupled with the discovery of
jet-quenching, provides the
first strong evidence for quark–
gluon plasma: a state of matter
predicted to have existed in the
first moments of the universe.
• First major heavy-ion
conference is held in South
Africa: UCT brings the 8th
International Conference on
Strangeness in Quark Matter
to South Africa.
2005
2009
2008
2010
• Development of THERMUS
software: designed by Spencer
Wheaton, then a UCT PhD
student, it is used by researchers
worldwide to analyse the relative
abundance of particles produced
by heavy-ion collisions and
measure the temperature of
quark–gluon plasma.
• Launch of National SA-CERN
Programme: UCT-CERN serves
as a stepping stone and Director
of UCT-CERN Professor Jean
Cleymans is appointed chair.
• Large Hadron Collider (LHC)
emits its first particle beam:
the first few billion protons are
circulated through the collider –
the world’s biggest – at CERN.
28
• SA-CERN sends first students
to CERN: students from UCT,
and other SA-CERN institutions,
travel to Geneva.
• Data collection at LHC
begins: following a failed first
attempt to run the collider, lowenergy beams are circulated in
the tunnel for the first time.
• First direct observation of
jet-quenching at the LHC:
based on experiments with
heavy-ion collisions, which
involved ATLAS, ALICE and
another detector at CERN.





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