Building the ATLAS detector has been a mammoth and innovative project. Sociologists, economists, and entrepreneurs have studied how such projects benefit society and the economy. The ATLAS collaboration has a number of unique characteristics, because of the size of the project, together with its complex scientific nature. It is the largest collaborative effort ever attempted in the physical sciences with more than 2200 physicists from 38 countries.
The search for exotic particle has led Alan Litke and his ATLAS colleagues to design a system that has allowed the discovery of a new type of cell in the retina of primates, and this technology is helping to find solutions for certain types of blindness.
The ATLAS collaboration is continuously expanding, and recently its message has reached new shores – South America. Three new countries, Argentina, Chile and Colombia joined the collaboration at the beginning of the year, when Peter Jenni, ATLAS spokesperson, signed collaboration agreements formalising the presence of the Latin American research teams within the ATLAS experiment.
"It's amazing that you have to build something so huge to measure such extremely small things," said Tom Christiansen from Telemark in Norway, after visiting the ATLAS cavern. His sentiment about the size of the ATLAS detector was shared by the thirty–one other physics teachers who, together with Tom, attended the first Norwegian Teacher Programme run at CERN, in November 2007.