Beate Heinemann


Beate Heinemann

DESY logo Uni Freiburg logo

+49 (40) 8998-1446 (DESY)
+49 (761) 203-5936 (Freiburg)


DESY Address:

Notkestr. 85
22605 Hamburg

Freiburg Address:

Albert-Ludwigs-Universitaet Freiburg
Physikalisches Institut
Hermann-Herder-Str. 3
79104 Freiburg

My Job

I am a leading scientist at the DESY laboratory in Hamburg, Germany, and a professor for experimental particle physics at the physics department of the Albert-Ludwigs-Universitaet Freiburg. My research is in the area of experimental Particle Physics. I did my undergraduate studies at the University of Hamburg in Germany and my PhD research at DESY in Hamburg on the H1 experiment at the HERA electron-proton collider. From 2001-2006 I worked vor the University of Liverpool on the CDF experiment at the highest energy collider in the world at the time, the Tevatron, at Fermilab in Chicago together with about 760 colleagues. From 2007 until 2016 I was a professor at the physics department of the University of California, Berkeley, and research scientist in the physics division of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
In January 2007 I joined the ATLAS experiment at Large Hadron Collider (LHC) CERN in Geneva/Switzerland. The LHC started proton-proton collisions in 2009 and took over from the Tevatron as the world's highest energy accelerator. I conduct my research with my colleagues from the DESY ATLAS group. From March 2013 until February 2017 I was deputy spokesperson of the ATLAS collaboration.

My Particle Physics Research

Particle Physics is trying to understand at a very fundamental how our Universe works. What is matter made of, what forces are there and why, what happened in between the Big Bang and now to cause the Universe to be as it is? By now we know that there are two kinds of matter, leptons and quarks, and four forces that act, the electromagnetic, the strong the weak and the gravitaional force. However, we have still many unanswered questions, e.g. cosmological data tell us that there is a lot of so-called "Dark Matter" in the Universe and the Nature of this Dark Matter is not yet understood within particle physics. Also, the fact that nowadays there is only matter and no anti-matter in the Universe is as yet unexplained within particle physics. High energy accelerators create conditions that allow us to shed light on such phenomena. At high energies new particles may be produced that could e.g. be the dark matter. The LHC currently has a center-of-mass energy of 13 TeV, more than 6 times higher than any previous collider.

In 2012 the LHC addressed the question whether there is a fundamental Higgs boson as was first suggested in 1964. This particle would interact with all other fundamental particles and give them mass. On July 4th 2012 the ATLAS and CMS collaborations made preliminary announcements that they see a new particle that is consistent with being a Higgs boson and ATLAS published this result end of July 2012.

The ATLAS experiment is a big enterprise: about 3000 scientists and many engineers and technicians are currently involved in operating the experiment and analyzing it's data. The opportunities for making a new discovery are great which is why so many scientists work on ATLAS and its partner and rival experiment CMS. The experiments are also so complex that it takes so many physicists plus many many technicians and engineers to first construct and now operate these detectors.

Talks and Publications

You can find out more by looking through selected publications and lectures and talks and some other media appearance, and other things related to my research.

Some favorite Quotes (and Physicists)

  • "Science progresses best when it observations force us to alter our preconceptions" (Vera Rubin)
  • "I sometimes think about the tower at Pisa as the first particle accelerator, a (nearly) vertical linear accelerator that Galileo used in his studies." (Leon Lederman)
  • "It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong." (Richard Feynman)
  • "There is no problem in science that can be solved by a man that cannot be solved by a woman." (Vera Rubin)
  • "Not only is the Universe stranger than we think, it is stranger than we can think." (Werner Heisenberg)
  • "One of the major ingredients for professional success in science is luck. Without this, forget it." (Leon Lederman)
  • "The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing." (Albert Einstein)
  • "The idea is to see how far one can go without supposing supernatural intervention." (Steven Weinberg)