Professor returns home for physics talk
A PARTICLE professor has returned to his old stomping ground to open a laboratory and explain the mysteries of what has been described as the biggest machine on Earth.
Swansea University graduate Lyn Evans launched the £3million facility at the college of science, at the university's Wallace Building.
It features physics labs, biological science labs, geology labs and an IT suite.
Later Professor Evans told a packed audience about his key role in building the multi-billion particle smasher called the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), located underground near the Swiss-French border.
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He was speaking at Wednesday's Science Cafe event at the city's Dylan Thomas Centre.
Fellow physics professor and joint Science Cafe organiser Chris Allton said there were some 140 people there, nearly double the normal number — all captivated by Prof Evans's illustrated talk.
"He is a very humble, very nice and down-to-earth guy," he said. "He had them in raptures. People were standing on the balcony."
The LHC comprises a 27km tunnel in which tiny particles are smashed together.
Prof Allton explained: "We are doing it to understand how matter works and how it fits together."
He said that if you wanted to find out how a clock worked, you would unscrew all the pieces and have a good look at the components.
But particles like protons were so tiny that you had to smash them together and then study the bits as they flew apart. Then, he said, you could build up a picture of how matter fitted together.
The LHC was credited this summer with providing evidence of a tiny particle known as the Higgs boson, which has been the subject of a decades-long hunt as the last missing piece of physics' Standard Model, explaining why matter has mass.
Prof Allton said the world wide web was developed by particle physicists at the vast laboratory where the LHC is.
The LHC itself cost billions of pounds, with many countries contributing. Prof Evans led the project to build the behemoth.
He graduated from Swansea University with a first class degree in physics in 1966 and completed a PhD four years later.
Speaking ahead of his visit, Professor Steve Wilks, head of the university's college of science said Prof Evans "represents the epitome of world-class research excellence".
He added: "It is truly a privilege to welcome him again to Swansea, to open our new undergraduate laboratories and teaching rooms. These improved facilities will educate what we hope will be the next generation of world-class scientists — many of whom I'm sure will be inspired by this former Swansea student and his achievements."
Prof Evans said: "It is an honour to be asked to open the College's new laboratories and teaching facilities."