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.
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
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.northeastern.edu.