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Indian scientists' contribution to LHC significant

Last updated: 16 September, 2010
M R Venkatesh, Chennai, Sep 16, DHNS: 22:43 IST

The group was particularly strong on heavy ion physics: Lyndon Evans

Contribution of Indian scientists in building the ‘Large Hadron Collider (LHC)’, the world’s biggest particle accelerator near Geneva to simulate the ‘big-bang’ that caused the universe, has been “proportionately more” than even American scientists.

The 100-strong team of scientists from India who participated in building the LHC at the ‘European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN)’, was much less than the American Scientists contingent, but the “contribution of Indians has been proportionately much larger”, the LHC’s Project Leader, Dr Lyndon Evans said here in his first-ever visit to India.

The LHC is an incredibly gigantic machine in a 27-km circumference underground tunnel
for high-energy probes in the area of sub-atomic or particle physics. Speaking at a special session at the IIT-Madras here on Wednesday as part of its technical festival ‘Shaastra’, the highly distinguished physicist popularly known as ‘Evans the Atom’, said supplies by Indian companies of certain components that went into the LHC, were of the highest quality.

While scientists and researchers from major Indian institutes like Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), and the Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre in Calcutta were working with this huge machine, Dr Evans was surprised that “there are no students from any of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT)s” in the LHC.

The Indian group was particularly strong in heavy ion physics, he added to cheers from the large audience. With huge amount of money invested in the LHC in which over 3,000 scientists from 39 countries were working, “the CERN is really the United Nations of Science”, Dr Evans said. The CERN was started in 1954 with a view to bringing Europe together again after World War-II.

Just like ‘World Wide Web (WWW)’ was not initially built to directly benefit the common man but later made the Internet accessible to everyone, the computer-savvy scientists at the LHC had taken the lead to build ‘The Grid’, an emerging infrastructure of computing that will be connected to ‘Tier-1’ and ‘Tier-2’ centres worldwide, he said.

The LHC “is a discovery machine”, probing some of the most profound, fundamental questions facing mankind like what was responsible for ‘mass’, the explanation of ‘gravity’, matter versus anti-matter and now even about the ‘real mystery of dark matter and dark energy’, Dr Evans said. “If we put the cosmic pie, we feel very humble,” he added to a standing ovation.

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