Nural Akchurin and Sung-Won Lee discussed the “God particle” at an Osher Lifelong Learning Institute lecture at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the Mckenzie-Merket Alumni Center.
Professor Akchurin and associate professor Lee work with Texas Tech’s High Energy Physics group and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland, researching the sub-atomic “God particle.”
On July 4, 2012, a Toroidal Large Hardon Collider Appartus experiment announced at a seminar it observed a new particle, which may be the Higgs boson particle, according to its website.
ATLAS is a 7,000-ton detector at the LHC, which is buried 100 meters beneath a small Swiss village, according to the CERN website.
It investigates particle physics including the Higgs boson, which is thought to give all matter mass, and extra dimensions that could make up dark matter.
“Higgs is a highly thought of subject matter,” OLLI Director Emma Carrasco said. “It’s interesting, controversial and challenging for OLLI students.”
Akchurin said he watched the ATLAS seminar at home with his wife and thought it was wonderful when the news came out.
Lee said he was on a plane to Korea at the time.
Akchurin and Lee also spoke at the OLLI lecture Monday.
Dalton Loy, a freshman physics major from Fort Worth, said he attended the lecture because he is interested in how the universe goes together.
“Previously, I was aware of the problem with dark energy and dark matter,” he said, “and how we basically have no idea where they come from.”
During the presentation, students learned that in 1964, when Peter Higgs and a group of five other physicists predicted the particle, they were told they were wrong by Werner Heisenberg, who said the theory did not align with the rules of physics.
“The theory says nothing about mass,” Akchurin said. “You have to calculate it. It’s up to us to connect all of the data.”
Students had the opportunity to ask questions during the lecture to better their understanding.
“The way that they were teaching seemed to take very complex things and make it to where people who may not be as educated in the field would be able to understand them,” Loy said.
Lee spoke about the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer that is attached to the International Space Station.
The $2 billion magnetic detector may have recently found a hint that will lead researchers to discover more information about dark matter, Lee said.
“This research is groundbreaking,” Loy said. “It’s going to change things in the future. I’d like to be involved in some of the research in the future.”
Loy said after the lecture he felt like he understood the problems of dark matter and dark energy.
Carrasco said the OLLI students were engaged and challenged during the lecture and it brought back some of their physics knowledge.
OLLI is an endowed program that has been part of Tech since 2003.
“We offer non-credit education designed for adults age 50 and over,” Carrasco said.
The goal, she said, is to continue intellectual stimulation without tests and textbooks.