Project money backs Stawell lab

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

World-lead­ing re­search into dark mat­ter in Stawell will re­ceive a $35-mil­lion boost.

The money, pledged by the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment, will help es­tab­lish a new ARC Cen­tre of Ex­cel­lence for Dark Mat­ter Par­ti­cle Physics at the Univer­sity of Mel­bourne.

The cen­tre, led by pro­fes­sor Elis­a­betta Bar­be­rio, will use the in-de­vel­op­ment Stawell Un­der­ground Physics Lab­o­ra­tory for its re­search.

The lab­o­ra­tory will be more than a kilo­me­tre be­low ground at Stawell Gold Mine and aid re­searchers as they in­ves­ti­gate dark mat­ter – an asyet un­ob­served phe­nom­e­non thought to ac­count for most of the mat­ter

in the uni­verse. It will be the first lab­o­ra­tory of its kind in the south­ern hemi­sphere.

Pro­fes­sor Bar­be­rio said the gov­ern­ment’s sup­port would en­able re­searchers to com­plete world-first re­search into the na­ture of dark mat­ter.

“This will make us very com­pet­i­tive with the rest of the world,” she said.

“Be­ing able to con­duct these ex­per­i­ments in the south­ern hemi­sphere for the first time will al­low us to elim­i­nate sea­sonal vari­ables and max­imise our chances of dis­cov­er­ing dark mat­ter.”

Fed­eral Mem­ber for Wan­non Dan Te­han said work at the Stawell lab­o­ra­tory would have enor­mous im­pli­ca­tions for the ex­pan­sion of hu­man knowl­edge.

“We can’t see dark mat­ter, but we know it ex­ists and un­lock­ing its se­crets has the po­ten­tial to trans­form our un­der­stand­ing of the uni­verse,” he said.

“This project in­volves the in­ter­sec­tion of par­ti­cle, nu­clear and quan­tum physics to pur­sue the dis­cov­ery of dark-mat­ter par­ti­cles.

“The dis­cov­ery of dark mat­ter will cre­ate a com­pletely new branch of physics and as­tron­omy.

“It is the equiv­a­lent of dis­cov­er­ing a par­al­lel uni­verse.”

The lab­o­ra­tory will be built with joint fund­ing from state and fed­eral gov­ern­ments.

The State Gov­ern­ment an­nounced $5-mil­lion for the con­struc­tion of the fa­cil­ity in July af­ter the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment also al­lo­cated $5-mil­lion ear­lier in the year.

Step for­ward

North­ern Grampians Shire Coun­cil mayor Kevin Er­win said fund­ing for the con­struc­tion of the lab­o­ra­tory and the re­searchers it would house was a great step for­ward.

He thanked both state and fed­eral gov­ern­ments for their sup­port of the project.

“Sci­en­tists around the world have been try­ing to discover what dark mat­ter is, and this will be the only par­ti­cle physics lab in the south­ern hemi­sphere, so it’s a great story for Stawell and our re­gion,” he said.

“Mr Te­han has been a won­der­ful ad­vo­cate for this ex­cit­ing project, as has the State Gov­ern­ment, so the project has cer­tainly en­joyed bi­par­ti­san sup­port which has been fan­tas­tic to see.”

Cr Er­win said the coun­cil was keen to max­imise op­por­tu­ni­ties in ed­u­ca­tion and tourism the project would present.

He said there was plenty of in­ter­est sur­round­ing the lab­o­ra­tory since the fund­ing an­nounce­ments, and the coun­cil would work with the com­mu­nity to max­imise its ben­e­fits.

He said the lab­o­ra­tory could also be used for other pur­poses, in­clud­ing bi­o­log­i­cal and can­cer re­search, geo­sciences and en­gi­neer­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.

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