Fundamental science with the world's largest scientific instrument - what's next at the CERN Large Hadron Collider?

On Wednesday 9 March 2016 Professor Dave Charlton, Spokesperson for the ATLAS Collaboration at CERN and Professor of Particle Physics in the School Physics & Astronomy, delivered the fourth EPS Distinguished Lecture.

The event featured a roundtable discussion hosted by Professor Martin Freer, Head of the School of Physics & Astronomy, where 10 students from across the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences had the opportunity to ask questions to Professor Charlton on topics relating to his research and his career in a more personal setting. The lecture itself looked at the engineering involved to keep the world’s largest scientific instrument operational, and what’s next for the Large Hadron Collider. The evening closed with an intimate dinner hosting by Head of College Professor Andy Schofield and was attending by senior academics, students and alumni continuing the discussion.  To read more about Professor Charlton's lecture our College journalistic society SATNAV have provided a summary of the evening for our Student News pages.

The lecture was recorded in full for your enjoyment:


The Large Hadron Collider – the LHC – sited at CERN just outside Geneva, is the world's largest scientific instrument, and the leading facility for probing nature at its most fundamental. The biggest experiment on the LHC is ATLAS, which was built, and is operated, by a global collaboration of some three thousand scientists and engineers from universities and research labs in close to forty nations. This size and complexity poses many challenges, but the success of ATLAS and the LHC is shown by the discovery, during the first phase of operation from 2009 to 2013, of a new type of fundamental particle, the Higgs boson.

The scientific harvest at the LHC, however, has barely begun: the LHC restarted in 2015, colliding particles at much higher energies than before – and the science will continue well into the 2030's. The prospects for the future are open-ended, as the science is by nature exploratory – what will be found at the energies not previously accessible in the laboratory?

In the lecture, the scale of the engineering required for the construction of the LHC and ATLAS will be reviewed, along with the Higgs discovery. The main emphasis will be to look forward to the physics prospects and future programme at the LHC.

Professor Dave Charlton Biography

Dave is Professor of Particle Physics at the University of Birmingham, where he has been working for a little over two decades. Since the turn of the century he has been working on the ATLAS experiment, where he has been the scientific head (Spokesperson) since 2013.

During the construction of ATLAS, Dave led the Birmingham ATLAS team in the construction of hybrid readout circuits for the large silicon-sensor tracking detector, and on the installation and commissioning of part of the fast pipelined electronics for the trigger system of ATLAS, which decides in millionth of a second which of the billion collision events per second are kept for further study. This work is all in close contact with international collaborators across the globe. He has worked on aspects of the breaking of the electroweak symmetry – now explained by the Higgs boson – for most of his career.

Dave was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 2014.

Professor Dave Charlton – EPS Distinguished Lecture Interview