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UTA Physics Professor’s Brush With The Nobel Prize

Courtney Collins
UTA's Andrew Brandt

A handful of physics professors at the University of Texas at Arlington celebrated with high-fives at yesterday’s announcement of the Nobel Prize for Physics. It went to the two scientists behind the theory of the Higgs boson particle, sometimes called the God Particle, Francois Englert and Peter Higgs.

UTA professor Andrew Brandt says just being close to the Nobel Prize is exciting. Brandt is part of a UTA team that worked on the ATLAS project, one of two large research groups recognized by the Nobel committee for actually finding the elusive particle.

“So when we see a Higgs, we don’t actually see a little ball with an H on it,” Brandt explains. “We see some different types of particles that you sort of reconstruct together. You add them together to see what their parent particle was.

Brandt says the 3,000 ATLAS researchers and their many experiments essentially gave ‘weight’ to the particle.  Teams at UTD and SMU were also part of ATLAS.

Brandt says UTA continues its research as one of five data centers – with a petabyte of storage to analyze a gigantic amount of data from a large detector. He calls it a five-story digital camera that captures proton collisions that open the door for the Higgs particle. Scientists say that particle gives everything in the universe mass.

Former KERA reporter BJ Austin spent more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.