The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
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Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024
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JFK’s Murder solved by SMU Physics?

Could Southern Methodist University physicists possibly unleash evidence they believe could help solve John F. Kennedy’s murder? Maybe! Solving history’s mysteries is one of many technological advancements SMU’s team from the physics department will be working on over the next ten years.

SMU scientists and students are taking turns working in Geneva, Switzerland and in Dallas on an international science project called ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC Apparatus). The experiments using the Large Hadron Collider, the highest energy particle accellerator in the world, will search for new discoveries through the head-on collisions of protons of extraordinarily high energy. ATLAS will help explain the basic forces that have shaped the universe since the beginning of time and will determine its fate, say scientists.

ATLAS scientists are working at the CERN lab, in Geneva, located on the French/ Swiss border since the 1950s, serves as a peaceful place to bring scientists together. The large ring-shaped Hadron Collider at CERN has 10,000 magnets. The “racetrack” allows the collision of beams that release small matter.

One of the physicists contributing from the start of this experiment is Professor Fred Olness. He has just returned after a year working at the CERN lab in Switzerland.

“I have been involved in other experiments but this will be the most esteemed career achievement, by far,” said Olness.

Jingbo Ye, an assistant professor at SMU, also has worked on the Hadron Collider. He believes the particle collider will lead physics, the science that studies the nature of our physical world, into a deeper understanding of fundamental laws governing the universe.

“The outcome of these many measurements and studies will bring us many known unknowns at present,” Ye said.

This experiment, although taking many years of hard work, will show the basic structure of matter and what new particles are out there. Using the technology, the recordings at the scene of JFK’s assassination could someday be analyzed to learn more details about the shots and the events that took place that day, say scientists.

SMU senior Ashley Moore is very interested in the experiment. “I believe the expected results of the experiment are fascinating, and I cannot wait to see results applied to such conspiracies as the JFK assassination or the Watergate tapes,” she said.

The CERN lab needs supportive computer firms. If all the data from ATLAS would be recorded, it would fill 100,000 CDs per second. SMU is one of 40 institutions in the U.S. involved in this computer processing operation. Below the classrooms in Fondren Science Building over 100 processors are currently helping with data from the site in Switzerland.

The ATLAS experiment has been in the making for ten years and has been going for ten additional years,” says Olness.

It is estimated the LHC will need to run for at least 20 years to receive the full impact. It is exciting, Olness says, because as the analysis flows the race begins to find interesting parts of the data. As the information is deciphered it is even more exciting to see the public attention the SMU team is receiving.

“I am at the top of the field and it has been fun,” Olness said.

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