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Seven Million Euros for Heidelberg’s Nuclear and Elementary-Particle Physicists

Press Release No. 1/2009
1 07 2009
Funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research for major research projects on the structure of matter
In the framework of its so-called Integrated Research Programme the Federal Ministry of Education and Research will be providing funding to the tune of 7 million euros to assure the participation of Heidelberg University’s nuclear and elementary-particle physicists in major research projects investigating the structure of matter. In the upcoming three-year funding period beginning in early July, this again puts Heidelberg’s physicists right at the head of the field competing for integrated research funding in Germany. Heidelberg’s Institutes of Physics have so far received funding amounting to some 22.9 million euros from the Integrated Research Programme for (amongst other things) their involvement in experiments conducted with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Geneva.

In the present case 5.3 million euros are earmarked for Heidelberg’s continued participation in the LHC experiments. Research groups at Heidelberg University’s Kirchhoff Institute of Physics, Institute of Physics and Institute of Computer Engineering are crucially involved in three of the four LHC experiments: ALICE, ATLAS and LHCb. No other university in the world can boast an equally wide-ranging involvement in the LHC programme.

The issues addressed by the LHC experiments are closely connected with the origins and evolution of our universe. The ALICE experiment is designed to re-create and investigate a state of matter called quark-gluon plasma that is thought to have existed just after the Big Bang, when the universe was still extremely hot. In the LHC quark-gluon plasma will be generated via heavy-ion collisions. The ATLAS experiment investigates the origin of masses, questing for new, possibly “supersymmetrical” particles that might make up the dark matter observed in the universe. Deviations from three-dimensional spatial structure at infinitesimal distances could lead to spectacular events like “mini black holes”. One of the questions investigated by the LHCb experiment is the difference in behaviour between matter and anti-matter. The researchers hope that exact measurement of so-called B mesons will cast light on new physical phenomena and supply novel insights on the asymmetry of matter that has been observed in our universe. So if new phenomena are discovered with the help of the LHC over the next few years, Heidelberg physicists will have a major share in the process.

The second main focus of the funding provided by the Ministry (1.1 million euros) is the preparation and inception of a new experiment with the accelerator facility FAIR (Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research) planned for installation at the GSI (Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research) in Darmstadt. Heidelberg’s physics institutes will also be involved in this so-called CBM experiment (CBM = Compressed Baryonic Matter), which sets out to study super-dense nuclear matter of the kind existing in neutron stars or at the core of supernova explosions.

The generous BMBF funding for Heidelberg University’s nuclear and elementary-particle physicists is an impressive confirmation of the University’s front-ranking status in this research field. Both now and in future the funding will enable Heidelberg’s research groups to make an outstanding contribution to investigations on the structure of matter and to a better understanding of the way our universe has evolved.


Prof. Dr. J. Stachel
Institute of Physics
phone: +49 6221 549224

Prof. Dr. K. Meier
Kirchhoff Institute of Physics
phone: +49 6221 549831

Prof. Dr. U. Uwer
Institute of Physics
phone: +49 6221 549226

Prof. Dr. N. Herrmann
Institute of Physics
phone: +49 6221 549464

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