Press invitation: Mysteries of the universe could be answered in the UK

June 27, 2002

The UK could lead the way in particle physics research if plans go ahead to site a facility in the UK that will help unravel some of the mysteries of the Big Bang.

Leading particle physicists will meet at Imperial College London 1-6 July 2002 to discuss the possibility of building a 'Neutrino Factory' to test the properties of particles that played a key role in the formation of the universe. The CCLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL), Oxfordshire has been named as a strong contender to host the facility.

Delegates at the fourth international Neutrino Factory Workshop, NuFact02 will gather to discuss progress in designing the 1 billion UKP project, through a mixture of seminars and working groups.

JOURNALISTS ARE INVITED TO ATTEND THE FINAL DAY OF THE CONFERENCE ON SATURDAY 6 JULY TO HEAR THE WORKING GROUP SUMMARIES.

Conference organiser, Dr Ken Long of Imperial's Department of Physics said:

"The successful design and eventual operation of the Neutrino Factory will represent the birth of a new technique for the study of fundamental particles and their interaction."

"The UK has a proven track record in the provision of high powered particle beams and in developing novel detector technologies. This gives the UK a unique opportunity to lead the international design work and bid to host the facility.

"Construction of the Neutrino Factory at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory provides the biggest opportunity for the creation of a world class particle physics facility in the UK in the next few decades."

The international collaboration involving scientists from Europe, the US and Japan is initially seeking funding for a 10 million UKP feasibility project, MICE, which has won strong support to be hosted by the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

"Hosting MICE will be a major step in developing UK leadership in the Neutrino Factory research and development.

"MICE will demonstrate a crucial part of the Neutrino Factory called the cooling channel using a new technique, ionisation cooling, that has never before been demonstrated," explained Dr Long.

Recent experiments have shown that subatomic particles, known as neutrinos, have mass - contradicting physicist's 'Standard Model' of all particles in the universe and how they interact. By building the Neutrino Factory scientists hope to manufacture neutrinos and observe their behaviour to gain an insight into why there is more matter than antimatter in the universe when both were made in equal amounts 12 billion years ago during the Big Bang.

"Recent work suggests that neutrinos form a significant part of the dark matter known to exist in the universe, and it could be the interaction of neutrinos rather than quarks which gives rise to the matter dominated universe," added Dr Long.

The Neutrino Factory workshop 2002 is organised by Imperial College London and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and is sponsored by the European Committee for Future Accelerators (ECFA), the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC), the Institute of Physics (IOP) and Imperial's Department of Physics.

For further information and to register for NuFact02 please contact Dr Ken Long on: +44 (0)20 7594 7812


  1. Further details about the conference and a full programme can be found at: www.hep.ph.ic.ac.uk/NuFact02/

  2. The crucial importance of the cooling channel to the success of the Neutrino Factory is reflected in the formation of the International Muon Ionisation Cooling Experiment collaboration (MICE). The MICE objectives are to design, build, commission and operate a realistic section of the cooling channel in order to demonstrate the feasibility of the technique. Involving 150 international physicists, the MICE collaboration has identified the experimental facility at RAL as the ideal site for this experiment.

  3. CCLRC is an independent non-departmental public body of the Office of Science and Technology, which is part of the Department of Trade and Industry. CCLRC owns and operates the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire, the Daresbury Laboratory in Cheshire and the Chilbolton Facility in Hampshire. These world-class institutions support the research community by providing access to advanced facilities and extensive scientific and technical expertise. Website: http://www.clrc.ac.uk

  4. Consistently rated in the top three UK university institutions, Imperial College London is a world leading science-based university whose reputation for excellence in teaching and research attracts students (10,000) and staff (5,000) of the highest international quality. Innovative research at the College explores the interface between science, medicine, engineering and management and delivers practical solutions which enhance the quality of life and the environment - underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture. Imperial has one of the largest annual turnovers (UKP390 million for 2000-01) and research incomes (UKP202 million for 2000-01). In the December 2001 Research Assessment Exercise, 75 per cent of staff achieved a 5* rating, the highest proportion in any UK university. Website: www.ic.ac.uk


Imperial College London

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