British physicists working on a giant atom-smashing machine
built beneath the French-Swiss Alps have won a
multimillion-pound grant to reveal how the universe was born.
The 10-year, Ł16.7 million grant will be used to unravel the
mysteries surrounding antimatter and dark matter, the
possibility of extra space-time dimensions and the existence of
the elusive Higgs boson - a particle believed to give other
It was awarded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council
(STFC) to Durham University's Institute for Particle Physics
Phenomenology (IPPP), which is a research centre dedicated to
understanding what happens when high energy particles are
smashed into each other at very high energies.
IPPP experts are providing the theory and analysis behind a
number of experiments to be carried out at the Large Hadron
Collider (LHC), a gigantic particle accelerator built 100m
underground on the Swiss/French border at Geneva, which aims to
recreate conditions in the early universe just after the big
Professor Nigel Glover, director of the IPPP, said: "The IPPP
has already won an international reputation for its research
into particle physics.
"The new funding from STFC, together with the new investment
from Durham University, will allow us to continue this vital
link between theory and experiment and ensure that UK particle
physics continues to thrive and play a pivotal role in large,
ground-breaking experiments such as the Large Hadron Collider.
"It will also help the UK prepare for, and contribute to, the
design and planning of physics programmes at future new
The interplay between theory and experiment is vital to new
developments and breakthroughs in particle physics and the
understanding of our universe.
Phenomenology is not only concerned with making theoretical
predictions that can be tested by experimental facilities, but
also with using the experimental data gathered at these
facilities to find evidence for new physics and to develop new
theories. Close collaboration with experimental colleagues is a
vital aspect of the work.
Projects like the LHC rely heavily on this marriage of theory
and experiment as they are likely to produce completely new and
unexpected results that will need interpreting.
Professor Keith Mason, chief executive of the STFC, said:
"Funding the IPPP is a key element of STFC's continued support
of fundamental physics and we welcome the large investment in
staff and buildings by the university.
"Since its creation in 2000, the IPPP has been a tremendous
success and has revitalised phenomenology in the UK."
The centre is funded in partnership between the STFC and Durham
University and the new grant will be enhanced by increased
investment from the university.
Durham University's increased investment will provide an
extension to the Ogden Centre, which houses the IPPP, massively
upgraded computer facilities and new permanent academic
It will also mean additional research positions and further
funding for workshops, visitors and travel to support the wider
UK phenomenology community.