On August 19, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Asso­ciate Pro­fessor of Physics Darien Wood assumed the posi­tion of Spokesperson for the DZero Exper­i­ment, which is located at the Depart­ment of Energy’s Fermi National Accel­er­ator Lab­o­ra­tory in Batavia, IL. The DZero Exper­i­ment, well-​​known for its pur­suit of the Higgs par­ticle, explores the fun­da­mental nature of matter. The exper­i­ment uses the world’s pre­mier high-​​energy accel­er­ator, the Teva­tron par­ticle col­lider at Fer­milab, to answer the ques­tion, “What is the uni­verse made of?” DZero sci­en­tists sift through the debris of proton–antiproton col­li­sions pro­duced at the highest avail­able ener­gies and search for sub­atomic clues that reveal the char­acter of the building blocks of the uni­verse. The DZero col­lab­o­ra­tion con­sists of about 600 physi­cists from 79 insti­tu­tions in 19 countries.

The DZero col­lab­o­ra­tion is led by two co-​​spokespersons who serve stag­gered two-​​year terms. Spokesper­sons are nom­i­nated by the col­lab­o­rating insti­tu­tions and then elected by DZero sci­en­tists by pop­ular vote. Wood, whose research is funded by the National Sci­ence Foun­da­tion, joins Dr. Dmitri Denisov, a Fer­milab staff sci­en­tist who is serving his second year as co-​​spokesperson

DZero is a major inter­na­tional col­lab­o­ra­tion of sci­en­tists addressing some of the most exciting prob­lems at the fron­tiers of par­ticle physics,” said Srinivas Sridhar, Vice Provost for Research at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity. “We are proud to have one of our pro­fes­sors leading this major inter­na­tional effort.”

As spokesperson, Wood will rep­re­sent and advo­cate the inter­ests of the DZero col­lab­o­ra­tion in dealing with the lab­o­ra­tory, funding agen­cies and the media, among others. He will also interact with the col­lab­o­rating insti­tutes, nego­ti­ating insti­tu­tional respon­si­bil­i­ties and the areas of con­tri­bu­tion for new col­lab­o­ra­tors. Wood will also play a major role in gen­eral man­age­ment of the col­lab­o­ra­tion, from appointing lead­er­ship posi­tions to set­ting research pri­or­i­ties for the exper­i­ment. Most impor­tantly, Wood and his co-​​spokesman will take ulti­mate respon­si­bility for seeing that the results obtained and pub­li­ca­tions written by the DZero col­lab­o­ra­tion are of the highest sci­en­tific quality.

I am excited at the prospect of becoming even more involved in DZero,” said Wood. “The Exper­i­ment has been a large part of my pro­fes­sional career, and we are in a posi­tion to make major dis­cov­eries in the next few years, from the Higgs par­ticle to dark matter par­ti­cles to extra dimensions.”

Wood joined the DZero col­lab­o­ra­tion in 1991 when he came to Fer­milab for a Wilson Fel­low­ship. He joined North­eastern Uni­ver­sity as an assis­tant pro­fessor in 1995, and has con­tinued to con­cen­trate his research on the DZero exper­i­ment. He has served as head of the muon detector group, con­vener of the elec­troweak physics working group, overall physics coor­di­nator of the exper­i­ment, co-​​leader of the recent effort to upgrade the “trigger” (the system that deter­mines which col­li­sions are recorded for fur­ther study), and chairman of the DZero Insti­tu­tional Board. He has also co-​​authored 198 pub­li­ca­tions on the DZero exper­i­ment and its results.

Col­li­sions at par­ticle accel­er­a­tors like the Teva­tron can create new par­ti­cles and reveal new sub­atomic forces through the trans­for­ma­tion of energy into matter (E=mc²). When physi­cists examine these col­li­sions, they effec­tively look back in time to con­di­tions that have not existed since shortly after the big bang. The Teva­tron is cur­rently the highest energy accel­er­ator in the world, and cre­ates particles–like the top quark–that cannot be cre­ated any­where else. The DZero detector, about the size of a three-​​story house, is a 5,000-ton device of nested sys­tems of sen­si­tive detector ele­ments and records par­ti­cles emerging from the col­li­sions. It sur­rounds one of the proton-​​antiproton col­li­sion points in the four-​​mile Teva­tron accel­er­ator ring.

The DZero col­lab­o­ra­tion began to design and build the detector in 1984, and the device recorded the first par­ticle col­li­sions in 1992. Since then the DZero col­lab­o­ra­tion has upgraded the detector sev­eral times, out­fit­ting it with the latest par­ticle detec­tion tech­nology. The col­lab­o­ra­tion is respon­sible for oper­ating the detector, ana­lyzing the data col­lected, and pub­lishing the results. The detector has been col­lecting data in its present con­fig­u­ra­tion since 2001, and will con­tinue at least through 2009.

Among the notable achieve­ments of the DZero exper­i­ment were the dis­covery (along with CDF, the other par­ticle col­lider exper­i­ment at the Teva­tron) of the top quark in 1995; the first evi­dence for matter-​​antimatter oscil­la­tions of the Bs meson in 2006; the first evi­dence for the elec­troweak pro­duc­tion of the top quark in 2006; and the dis­covery of the first par­ticle, called cascade-​​b, to con­tain quarks from each of the three gen­er­a­tions of matter in 2007.

The DZero exper­i­ment is now accu­mu­lating col­li­sion data at a higher rate and with better pre­ci­sion than ever before. One of the main hopes in the next two years is to record a glimpse of the elu­sive Higgs boson, the par­ticle that is thought to be respon­sible for giving mass to all fun­da­mental particles.

About Fer­milab

Fermi National Accel­er­ator Lab­o­ra­tory is owned by the US Depart­ment of Energy and is man­aged and oper­ated by Fermi Research Alliance, a part­ner­ship between Uni­ver­sity of Chicago, and Uni­ver­si­ties Research Asso­ci­a­tion, a con­sor­tium of 91 research-​​oriented uni­ver­si­ties (including North­eastern). The mis­sion of Fer­milab is “to advance the under­standing of the fun­da­mental nature of matter and energy by pro­viding lead­er­ship and resources for qual­i­fied researchers to con­duct basic research at the fron­tiers of high energy physics and related dis­ci­plines.” More than 2,300 sci­en­tists from around the world col­lab­o­rate with Fer­milab on exper­i­ments and R&D projects. As noted above, DZero alone has col­lab­o­rating insti­tu­tions from 19 dif­ferent coun­tries. For more infor­ma­tion on the DZero exper­i­ment, visit www​-d0​.fnal​.gov

About North­eastern

Founded in 1898, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity is a pri­vate research uni­ver­sity located in the heart of Boston. North­eastern is a leader in inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research, urban engage­ment, and the inte­gra­tion of class­room learning with real-​​world expe­ri­ence. The university’s dis­tinc­tive coop­er­a­tive edu­ca­tion pro­gram, where stu­dents alter­nate semes­ters of full-​​time study with semes­ters of paid work in fields rel­e­vant to their pro­fes­sional inter­ests and major, is one of the largest and most inno­v­a­tive in the world. The Uni­ver­sity offers a com­pre­hen­sive range of under­grad­uate and grad­uate pro­grams leading to degrees through the doc­torate in six under­grad­uate col­leges, eight grad­uate schools, and two part-​​time divi­sions. For more infor­ma­tion, please visit www​.north​eastern​.edu.