From UVA Today:
University of Virginia physicists are playing a key role in one of the world’s largest physics experiments, a nearly $300 million project called “NOvA” that is designed to study fundamental particles. The aim is to help tweak out the details of how the universe came to its present state from particle interactions that occurred in the first seconds after the Big Bang nearly 14 billion years ago.
“There are holes in our understanding of the universe, and as scientists, we won’t sleep well until those holes are patched,” said Craig Group, a project scientist with NOvA and UVA physics professor. “It sometimes takes big experiments to answer fundamental questions.”
The roughly 200 scientists around the country who are part of NOvA must actively monitor the experiments in real time. They do this in shifts, either at Fermilab or remotely, if so equipped.
Last summer, Group and his colleagues set up a $10,000 monitoring and control station in the High-Energy Physics Lab on Grounds to make this easier. Previously they had to fly to Illinois and run their shifts on-site, but now they can do it from the comfort of home – their lab.
Three to four times per year, Group and colleague Craig Dukes, another project scientist with NOvA, and a corps of postdoctoral fellows and graduate students take turns over a four-day period pulling three eight-hour shifts per day. With the station in place, they now can monitor experiments at any time, even when another institution is on guard duty.
For the full story, see www.news.virginia.edu/content/uva-neutrino-researchers-close-how-matter-came-be