After 20 years in the making, the first physics results have come out of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Physicists from the University of Birmingham played a key role in analyzing these collisions and producing the first results from the 27 km circular atom smasher near Geneva. The results were submitted for publication by the ALICE collaboration just six days after recording the first proton collisions last week.

“I’m immensely proud of the team who have worked so hard”, said Dr. David Evans, UK spokesman for the ALICE collaboration. “They have been working around the clock at CERN in order to get these results out so quickly.”

The Birmingham group have designed and built the vital ALICE trigger electronics which instructs the detector to record data after a collision, making decisions in less than a tenth of a millionth of a second.

“Although we may have to wait a while for the results from high energy collisions”, added Dr. Evans, “getting results out this early from a new detector is a major achievement. It also shows just how well the detector and the Birmingham-built electronics work.”

Protons were collided in the LHC, for the first time, on Monday 23rd November at relatively low energies. High energy collisions are expected early next year when physicists hope to discover new secrets about the nature of matter and the early universe.

Professor Keith Mason, CEO of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), said, “This is great news. The LHC is now fully on track and gearing up to some unique and possibly world changing science. We’re very proud of the huge contribution of our skilled scientists here in the UK.”

The UK is one of the biggest contributors to the LHC project. Through the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), which funds the UK nuclear and particle physics program, including the CERN subscription, the UK has contributed vital hardware, computing and scientific knowledge and has around 150 UK scientists currently involved in the project.

The new results from the ALICE collaboration were accepted for publication by the European Journal of Physics on Tuesday 1st Dec.

Some photos and figures can be found on:

Notes for Editors

First Results from ALICE

When two protons collide in the LHC, some of the energy is converted into mass (using Einstein’s E = mc^2) in the form of electrically charged particles and antimatter particles (anti-particles). These particles and anti-particles fly out from the collision point and are detected in the ALICE detector. ALICE has shown that the average number of particles and anti-particles produced at these lower energy collisions is consistent with that predicted by theory and earlier results, from previous experiments, using proton anti-proton collisions (although this is the first time they’ve been measured in proton-proton collisions).


ALICE is one of the four main experiments at the CERN LHC and will study the physics from ultra-high energy proton-proton and lead-lead interactions. ALICE will explore the first instants of the Universe, a few microseconds after the Big Bang, when matter was in its primordial state, a ‘soup’ of fundamental particles called quarks and gluons.

The ALICE Collaboration consists of around 1000 physicists and engineers from about 100 institutes in 30 countries. The UK plays a vital role being responsible for the design and construction of the central trigger electronics and corresponding software. In addition, the UK group is making an important contribution to the preparations for analyzing the first data.

The ALICE detector is the result of 20 years R&D and development. It is placed in the LHC ring, some 300 feet (100 meters) underground, is 52 feet (16 meters) high, 85 feet (26 meters) long, and weighs about 10,000 tons.

ALICE utilizes state-of-the-art technology including high precision systems for the detection and tracking of subatomic particles, ultra-miniaturized systems for the processing of electronic signals, and a worldwide distribution network of the computing resources for data analysis (the GRID). Many of these technological developments have direct implications to everyday life such as medical imaging, microelectronics and information technology.

The UK contribution to the ALICE experiment is funded by the Science Facilities Research Council (STFC).

STFC Investment in LHC

The Science and Technology Facilities Council has invested over #500 million over the lifetime of the LHC project, through the UK subscription to CERN and funding of the UK institutes that have been involved in the construction of the detectors and provision of the computing Grid. STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory has been a key element of this work.

Images showing UK people and equipment for the LHC are available from Credit STFC

Images from CERN are available at


David Evans
Head of UK ALICE
The University of Birmingham
+44 (0)798 040 6171

Julia Short
STFC Press Office
Tel +44 1793 442 012
Mob +44 7770 276 721

Julia Maddock
STFC Press Office
Tel +44 1793 442 094
Mob +44 7901 514 975

Briefing Documents
LHC Overview briefing
Science briefing
CERN Brochure FAQ

All available from