Louisiana Tech University Logo

Louisiana Tech University


News @ Tech

Physics professors playing key role in international research

Dr. Lee Sawyer and Dr. Markus Wobisch, physics professors in Louisiana Tech’s College of Engineering and Science, are featured contributors in the “Result of the Week” section on the Fermilab Today website for their work with a phenomenon known as the “running of the strong” force coupling constant, which involves changes in strength of strong forces at different distance scales.

Fermilab (Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory) is a U.S. Department of Energy facility located outside of Chicago, Illinois, specializing in high-energy particle physics.  Sawyer, who also serves as the chair of Tech’s physics department, and Wobisch have been consulting professors for Fermilab for several years.

According to the “Results of the Week” website posting, Sawyer and Wobisch say the “running of the strong” phenomena is more like pulling on a rubber band than pulling apart two magnets with its strength diminishing at short distances between quarks, but increasing rapidly when trying to pull two quarks apart.  At some point, it takes less energy to produce a new quark-antiquark pair to partner with those being separated than to keep pulling those quarks apart. This process happens repeatedly when a quark or gluon is produced in a collision of protons with antiprotons and leads to a spray of particles called a jet.

Fermilab is operated by the Fermi Research Alliance, a joint venture of the University of Chicago, Illinois Institute of Technology and the Universities Research Association (URA).  A part of the Illinois Technology and Research Corridor, Fermilab is best known for Tevatron, the world’s second largest energy particle accelerator.

Written by Catherine Fraser – cfraser@latech.edu