Trinity College Dublin (TCD) researchers revealed last month that the project Strong-2020 will bring together fellow physicists from across Europe to better understand the ‘strong nuclear force’ that binds much of our reality.

This will see the €10m Horizon 2020 project investigate the fundamental constituents of matter within hadrons – called quarks and gluons – as well as experimentally observable particles such as the protons and neutrons.

The force is described mathematically by quantum chromodynamics (QCD), a cornerstone of the standard model of particle physics. Precise knowledge of strong interactions helps scientists understand the nature of matter as well as guiding searches for new physics at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.

Strong-2020 will support transnational mobility, workshops and conferences, with access now available to six leading research infrastructures in Europe – including CERN – and virtual access to open-source codes to both automation and simulation tools.
Science communication will also be a major part of the project, as well as training for education for students and postdoctoral researchers. TCD’s Prof Mike Peardon will coordinate theoretical physics activities in numerical simulation of QCD – referred to as lattice QCD – across the network.

Speaking of the project, TCD professor of theoretical high energy physics, SinĂ©ad Ryan, said: “Lattice QCD has been a driver of hardware and software innovation for high-performance computing for more than 30 years and Strong-2020 will support a new cohort of lattice QCD researchers at Trinity and across Europe.”

Ryan added that technologies that could be spurred on by the project – and particle physics breakthroughs in general – include advances in medicine, such as diagnostic tools for uses in cancer treatment.

Ireland continues to pull in significant funding under the Horizon 2020 programme, much more than would be expected. Speaking at Inspirefest 2018, Dr Imelda Lambkin, national director for Horizon 2020 for Enterprise Ireland, said the country has successfully applied for more than €500m in funding.

Colm Gorey

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