YOUNG SOUTH AFRICAN RESEARCHERS CONTINUE TO BENEFIT FROM THE SA-CERN COLLABORATION – 10 YEARS SINCE HIGGS BOSON DISCOVERY

The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, congratulates two WITS university young researchers for taking leading roles at the ATLAS experiment collaboration of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN).

 

Dr Edward Nkadimeng was appointed by the management of the Tile Calorimeter Group of the ATLAS experiment at CERN to lead the team for the Low Voltage Power Supply (LVPS) project. Edward leads a community of physicists and engineers from the United States and Europe. This international team will be delivering on critical electronics for the upgrade of the Tile Calorimeter of the ATLAS detector.

 

Ryan Mckenzie, a Wits PhD student has been chosen to undertake the roles of deputy run-coordinator and then run-coordinator of the ATLAS Hadronic Tile calorimeter.

 

“The appointment of these young researchers comes as the world celebrates 10 years since the existence of the Higgs boson by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. The discovery was made on July 4, 2012,” said Minister Nzimande.

 

The Minister further said the particle physicists had been looking for the Higgs boson for almost 50 years, and the discovery of the particle opened the door to unlocking mysteries in nature, such as the origin of other forms of matter in the universe.  The particle plays an important role in the Standard Model of Particle Physics.

 

The Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) funds the SA-CERN Collaboration Programme, which was launched in December 2008.

 

The SA-ATLAS team (a pillar of the SA-CERN collaboration programme) was part of the research that led to the discovery in 2012.  Since then, the SA-CERN programme has grown considerably.

 

The discovery led to the Nobel Prize in Physics being awarded to the theorists who proposed the Higgs boson, François Englert and Peter W Higgs, in 2013.

 

"The growth of the South African contribution to the ATLAS experiment, where SA researchers and students make significant contributions to detector maintenance, operations and upgrades, and future discoveries of new physics at the LHC, has been particularly important," said the Minister.

 

The Minister added that the complex environment of CERN provides exposure for South African students to learn in practical environments, for example, solving engineering challenges, managing large datasets, and working in data analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence, software and algorithm development, systems engineering, project management and systems administration.

 

"The establishment of the SA-CERN collaboration also contributed to the institutional transformation of some of the smaller universities with no existing formal programme in particle and nuclear physics. For example, the University of the Witwatersrand (where the High-Throughput Electronics Laboratory, part of the Institute for Collider Particle Physics, is located) partnered with the University of the Zululand to establish an electronics laboratory where students do their projects. Currently, the University of Zululand has students and academics doing projects at ATLAS.  The Institute for Collider Particle Physics also co-supervises students at the University of Venda in the areas of artificial intelligence and machine learning," said the Minister.

 

Joining the world in marking the Higgs boson discovery, the annual South African Institute of Physics Conference on 4 July 2022 will include a special lecture on the subject.

 

The celebration of the discovery coincides with the International Year of the Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development (IYBSSD 2022). The DSI, in partnership with UNESCO, the Academy of Science of South Africa and other learned societies in the country, will be hosting a series of events to celebrate the IYBSSD 2022.

 

About the South Africa-CERN collaboration

 

Established in 2008, the SA-CERN collaboration has contributed to the formation of a South African research area effectively creating a distributed research laboratory across South Africa.  The SA-CERN consortium continues to strengthen the South African research community by creating links between all research institutes in South Africa and the rest of the world.  The collaboration led to the establishment of a High-Throughput Electronics Laboratory at the Institute for Collider Particle Physics at the University of the Witwatersrand, and its expansion to the inclusion of a Technology Transfer Pillar (TTP) implemented through the Technology Innovation Platform (TIP) at iThemba LABS, a research facility for accelerator-based science.  The TTP and TIP enhance the capability of South Africa to develop high-throughput electronics components required for LHC experiments in South Africa.

 

 

For more information contact Veronica Mohapeloa at 083 400 5750 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Issued by:

Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Innovation
Meiring Naude Road
Brummeria
Pretoria
Enquiries: Ishmael Mnisi 0660378859

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