'Simply Smashing': UA Physicist Discusses His Role on 'Big Science' Project

The upcoming Science Café features Michael Shupe, a member of the Large Hadron Collider, the world's largest particle accelerator.
Feb. 5, 2010
Extra Info: 

For more information about Flandrau: The UA Science Center and the Science Café go online or on Facebook.

Anyone is also welcome to join the conversation on Twitter at username: @FlandrauAZ.

Cushing Street Bar and Restaurant is located on the corner of Cushing Street and Meyer Avenue in downtown Tucson, across the street from the Convention Center.

Complimentary, lighted, on-site parking is available on the east side of the restaurant. Admission and parking are free.

What: 
Science Café: "Simply Smashing: The Large Hadron Collider Ramps Up"
When: 
Tuesday, Feb. 9, 6-7:30 p.m.
Where: 
Cushing Street Bar and Restaurant, 198 W. Cushing St, Downtown Tucson
Large Hadron Collider
Large Hadron Collider

Science aficionados know about the Large Hadron Collider, the world's largest particle accelerator. Less well-known is that a team of scientists from the University of Arizona is part of the gigantic European project.

One of them is Michael A. Shupe, a UA professor of physics, who will give a short talk at the upcoming Science Café in downtown Tucson. His address, "Simply Smashing: The Large Hadron Collider Ramps Up," is about scientists' hopes and dreams for this "Big Science" effort.

The ongoing Science Café lecture series is sponsored by Flandrau: The University of Arizona Science Center.

The Large Hadron Collider is designed to answer fundamental questions of the universe. LHC will zip beams of sub-atomic particles around a 17-mile underground tunnel beneath the border of France and Switzerland. The machine, shut down for the winter, is scheduled to resume operations in March.

The gigantic machine will smash protons together at higher energies ever produced. As a result, Shupe and his colleagues anticipate the collider may detect dark matter, the elusive particle known as the Higgs boson, and, even better, things yet unnamed.

Shupe, whose research focus is called "quark-lepton compositeness," is particularly interested in those things that are as yet unnamed. He thinks quarks, the smallest building blocks of matter, are made up of even smaller units. If these smaller units exist, the LHC may be powerful enough to split quarks apart so he and others can learn what the world is really made of. Shupe has dubbed those quarks' inner pieces, "quips."

Shupe works on the LHC's ATLAS detector, one of four experiments built around the points where the accelerator's proton beams cross through each other and collide head-on. The UA's ATLAS team led the design, construction and installation of the forward calorimeter, an instrument that measures the position and the tremendous energies of the particles emerging from the collisions.

Shupe had a key role in making sure the ATLAS experiment has enough shielding to withstand the tremendous radiation generated by the high-energy collisions. He has been working on the Large Hadron Collider for 16 years.

Shupe is an author on more than 175 research papers and technical reports. He joined the UA physics department as associate professor in 1988 and was promoted to full professor in 1993. He was the department's director of graduate studies from 1995 to 2003 and interim department head for 2007 and 2008. He earned his doctorate in physics from Tufts University in 1976 and his bachelor of science in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1968.

Shipherd Reed will moderate the discussion. Reed, who promises to wrap things up by 7:30 p.m., will keep the discussion lively and on track. Following the program, audience members will have the opportunity to submit discussion topic ideas for subsequent Science Café events.

Seating is on a first come, first served basis, so please arrive early.

Future Science Café's are scheduled for March 9, April 13 and May 11.