More than 400 physi­cists from around the world con­verged on North­eastern over the past week to par­tic­i­pate in two major con­fer­ences on the search for an under­standing of the Big Bang model of the origin of the universe.

We are on the edge of a rev­o­lu­tion in par­ticle physics,” says Pran Nath, Matthews Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor of Physics and orga­nizer of the 17th Inter­na­tional Con­fer­ence on Super­sym­metry and Uni­fi­ca­tion of Fun­da­mental Inter­ac­tions (Susy09), held at the Curry Stu­dent Center from June 5 to 10.

An ear­lier work­shop, held from June 2 to 4, called Beyond the Stan­dard Model Physics and LHC Sig­na­tures attracted 150 experts in LHC (Large Hadron Col­lider) physics. The LHC is the world’s largest, highest-​​energy par­ticle accel­er­ator, which sci­en­tists hope will soon allow them to col­lide opposing par­ticle beams.

Nath explains, “We have a large instru­ment, the Large Hadron Col­lider, which col­lides pro­tons coming in oppo­site direc­tions at the speed of light. Physi­cists are hoping to recreate the Big Bang when the col­lider starts oper­a­tion in Geneva, Switzer­land, later this year.”

Peter Jenni, spokesperson for the LHC project and the ATLAS Collaboration—the group of experts who design, con­struct and use the LHC—keynoted the Susy09 con­fer­ence kickoff in the Curry Center Ballroom.

Speaking to a capacity audi­ence, Jenni described the excite­ment that is building in the physics com­mu­nity as the giant col­lider is readied to come on line in October. Ulti­mately, he said, “our goal is to pro­duce as many as one bil­lion col­li­sions per second.”

Detailing mile­stones and showing pho­tographs of the equip­ment, Jenni described the project as “one of the most ambi­tious and chal­lenging projects in science.”

At North­eastern, the con­ver­gence of hun­dreds of top physi­cists from around the globe was a mon­u­mental occa­sion, espe­cially for Nath, who started the super­sym­metry con­fer­ence 17 years ago.

I saw that super­sym­metry was going to be big field,” he says, “and I thought there were so many people working all around the world who would want to assemble and dis­cuss the sci­ence of par­ticle physics, which attempts to explain the cre­ation of the universe.”

Other speakers at Susy09 included Bruno Zumino, physics pro­fessor at U.C. Berkeley and an orig­i­nator of super­sym­metry theory, and MIT’s Frank Wilczek, the Herman Fes­h­bach Pro­fessor of Physics and a Nobel lau­reate in physics.

This is the leading con­fer­ence in the world on physics beyond the stan­dard model,” Nath says.

Today, he says, the experts who gath­ered on the North­eastern campus stand on the cusp of “a new golden age of physics.”