CONFIRMATION that Stawell will become home to an Underground Physics Laboratory - the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, could come as soon as next week.
Anticipation is growing that the site of the Stawell Gold Mine harbours the conditions to support the detection of dark matter.
Such is the confidence and commitment from experts in the field, representatives from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Particle Physics (CoEPP) at the Terascale have developed a 10 year plan based on the proposed Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory.
"I'm fairly confident we'll hear something soon, it could be very soon - even next week, but if not we'll definitely know by Christmas," Northern Grampians Shire Mayor, Cr Kevin Erwin said.
In preparation for that eventuality Northern Grampians Shire Council and CoEPP will host an event to bring the community up to speed on developments next Tuesday night.
CoEPP Professor, Elisabetta Barberio will report on the progress of testing and the potential for the Underground Physics Laboratory.
Two visiting Directors from the Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN), Professor Stefano Ragazzi and Professor Antonio Masiero will answer questions regarding the dark matter experiment and its link with Italy.
Their presentations will be the culmination of a three day joint CoEPP - Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics workshop being held in Great Western.
Co-sponsored by the Australian Research Council and The Office of the Scientific Attach , Embassy of Italy, Canberra the workshop will be attended by physicists from around Australia and Italy and will discuss the physics of dark matter, worldwide programs for the direct detection of dark matter and the potential for the first southern hemisphere underground physics laboratory at Stawell.
Mayor, Cr Kevin Erwin has encouraged Stawell residents to get behind the efforts of CoEPP to bring the scientific endeavour to Stawell.
He said the opportunity to host world leading experts on particle physics in our shire was unique.
"I think it is difficult for a lot of people to get their head around the concept and what this would actually mean for Australia," he said.
"This development could be of national, even international, significance within ten years."
Cr Erwin said the proposed Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory has the potential to grow to a scale similar to that of a laboratory in Italy which employs 2000 people.
"We will see jobs created in the construction phase and then see anywhere from between 50 to 100 jobs initially, who knows how many after that," he said.
"Just think, in all likelihood we could have 10 of our own home grown children become physicists and work out of this laboratory.
"I encourage people from throughout the region to attend this exciting event and hear the enormous potential this physics laboratory has for our communities".
The benefits that stem from of an underground laboratory are many and varied. They include:
- Job creation
- Investment partnerships, resulting in long-term rejuvenation and economic viability of the region
- Education opportunities for schools and the community
- Position Victoria, Australia at the cutting edge of international scientific investigation
The community event 'From Italy to Stawell - Why Dark Matter matters' will be held on Tuesday, September 30, from 7pm-8.30pm at the Stawell Town Hall Entertainment Centre.
RSVP's are essential and should be directed to Meg Newton on 5358 8732. All are welcome.
General enquiries relating to the potential Stawell Underground Physics Laboratory should be directed to team leader, Strategic Projects, Amanda Western on 5358 8700.