Once the particle accelerator is built and a particle detector, called ATLAS, constructed (no easy task, since the construction of ATLAS's many components has been divided among research teams in 50 countries – and they must all fit exactly to each other at the end of the process), the big challenge will be to interpret the data. The ATLAS detector will receive more data at every given moment than all of the world's telephone networks combined. And how does one detect “new physics” phenomena if one does not even know what new physics is? Thus the organizers of the project decided to conduct a “dry run” – to simulate the extent and possible nature of the data and conduct a competition to see how the data is best interpreted. Several small hints for a possible new physics were hidden among the millions of simulated events and the groups were challenged to find as many hints as possible and ‘publish’ their findings. Tying for first place were the Weizmann Institute and Cambridge University.
“We learned that we won over the Internet, on CERN's website,” says Ph.D. student Arie Melamed-Katz of the Particle Physics Department. The team hadn't gone to the conference in Prague where the winners were announced, they say, because there was “no time or money.” The prize for first place was a wooden brainteaser, which they have placed on the windowsill.
Taking a major part in the deciphering were Prof. Eilam Gross and his Ph.D. student Lidija Zivkovic, Ph.D. students Arie Melamed-Katz and Peter Renkel, and postdoc Dr. Michael Rivline.
Prof. Ehud Duchovni’s research is supported by the Nella and Leon Benoziyo Center for High Energy Physics.