Tag: cern

What's a Higgs Boson, What's Being Announced Tomorrow, and What's Next

By Veronique Greenwood | July 3, 2012 2:48 pm

July 4th is the big day! And not only because of fireworks. It’s the day of a press conference at which it is widely anticipated that CERN (the giant European particle physics laboratory) will announce that the Higgs boson—that much-touted particle needed to make the Standard Model of Physics complete—has been found at the Large Hadron Collider. Or at least, that something that looks very much like it has been observed.

What’s the Higgs, you say? You’ve been living under a rock? Well, here is the best explanation we’ve seen of what the Higgs is and why it’s important, courtesy The Guardian’s Ian Sample:

Normally, we would not be writing anything suggesting the Higgs had been found until the proof was in our hot little hands. Rumors schrumors, we say—many a CERN press conference has ended in disappointment. But this morning, Kate Travis, an editor at ScienceNews, found a leaked CERN video in which a spokesperson all but announces the discovery of a new particle.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Physics & Math, Top Posts

LHC Creates Cosmic Primordial Soup and Probes Strange Particle Jets

By Andrew Moseman | November 30, 2010 10:29 am

ALICEquarkGplasmaNow that the Large Hadron Collider is smashing lead, the discoveries are coming fast and furious.

Earlier this month CERN’s smashing machine switched from sending protons zinging around its ring to sending heavy lead ions at relativistic speeds. Those energetic collisions, the physicists now say, have allowed them to use the LHC’s ALICE experiment to glimpse quark-gluon plasma, the “primordial soup” present just after the Big Bang.

During this time, the Universe would have been so hot and energetic that the particles making up the elements we know today were unable to form, leaving the constituents to float “free” as a primordial soup. Quarks and gluons were only able to condense into larger particles when universal energy conditions were low enough. Hadrons (i.e. particles made from quarks; including baryons like neutrons and protons) were only allowed to form 10-6 seconds after the Big Bang. [Discovery News]

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Physics & Math

New Revelations From Particle Colliders Past, Present & Future

By Joseph Calamia | July 27, 2010 1:03 pm

lhc-tunnelParticle physicists hunting for the Higgs boson reported their latest findings yesterday at the International Conference on High Energy Physics in Paris. The big two–Europe’s Large Hadron Collider and Fermilab’s Tevatron Collider (in Illinois)–gave updates, and other conference buzz included talk of a new facility, the International Linear Collider, which may one day give physicists a cleaner look at the other colliders’ results.

Large Hadron Collider — More Detailed Models Help the Search

Currently operating at 7  Tera electron Volts (TeV), the Large Hadron Collider is the world’s most powerful particle accelerator. Though electrical malfunctions hindered the collider in 2008, now LHC scientists report that they have made up for lost time: finding in months, what took the Tevatron, with its 2 TeV collisions, decades.

“The scientific community thought it would take one, maybe two years to get to this level, but it happened in three months,” said Guy Wormser, a top French physicist and chairman of the conference.[AFP]

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Physics & Math

A Particle Physics First: Researchers Watch Neutrinos Change Flavors

By Joseph Calamia | June 1, 2010 4:28 pm

detectorFor the first time, physicists say they have witnessed a subatomic particle change its “flavor.” Physicists at OPERA, run by Italy’s national nuclear physics institute, announced yesterday that they have observed one neutrino change its type, or flavor, spontaneously. The experiment solves a 50-year-old physics mystery, and may uncover some of the universe’s hidden mass.

The Mystery

Neutrinos, which come in three different flavors, can have fairly violent births: they can come into the world via nuclear reactions in the sun, particle decay, or collisions in particle accelerators. But, once formed, they seem to ignore almost everything around them, including magnetic fields, electric fields, and matter. In fact, there are trillions of them zipping through each of us every second; they go right through our bodies and keep on moving through the planet itself.

The mystery of “neutrino oscillations” began with the number of neutrinos that should be coming from the sun. Theory predicted a certain number of various flavors to arrive, but observation showed much less:

The neutrino puzzle began with a pioneering and ultimately Nobel Prize winning experiment conducted by US scientist Ray Davis beginning in the 1960s. He observed far fewer neutrinos arriving at the Earth from the Sun than solar models predicted: either solar models were wrong, or something was happening to the neutrinos on their way. [CERN]

In 1969, Bruno Pontecorvo and Vladimir Gribov theorized that the neutrinos weren’t disappearing, they were changing their flavors mid-journey. Though physicists were looking for one type, they weren’t finding what they ordered.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Physics & Math

A Sweet Smashup: The LHC Shatters the Collison Energy Record

By Andrew Moseman | March 30, 2010 12:15 pm

lhc-220The smashing has started. Now the science can commence.

Last week we reported that the Large Hadron Collider’s operators at CERN targeted today to attempt the highest energy particle collisions ever. And to show the world that yes, in fact, the LHC can meet a deadline, today they slammed together the two proton beams, each carrying 3.5 trillion electron volts, to produce 7 TeV collisions. As the first data from the impacts were announced, physicists who had gathered at CERN applauded, jumped up and down, and clutched laptops displaying images of the collisions to their chests as if the computers were newborn babes [National Geographic].

While the physicists enjoy their moment of euphoria, they caution that it will be some time before the LHC’s collisions translate into new data that could reveal deeper secrets of the universe. “Major discoveries will happen only when we are able to collect billions of events and identify among them the very rare events that could present a new state of matter or new particles,” said Guido Tonelli, a spokesman for the CMS detector at the LHC. “This is not going to happen tomorrow. It will require months and years of patient work” [BBC News]. This round of collisions should last a year and a half or so. After a planned shutdown, the physicists plant to crank up the collider to its full power of 14 TeV.

For more about the long road to now and the future of LHC physics, follow DISCOVER blog Cosmic Variance.

Related Content:
Cosmic Variance: LHC Physics Begins!
Cosmic Variance: Highest Energy Ever
80beats: Rumors of the LHC’s Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated
80beats: LHC Beam Zooms Past 1 Trillion Electron Volts, Sets World Record
80beats: Baguettes and Sabateurs from the Future Defeated: LHC Smashes Particles
DISCOVER: A Tumultuous Year at the LHC

Image: CERN

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Physics & Math

In 1 Week, the LHC Will Try to Earn the Title, "Big Bang Machine"

By Andrew Moseman | March 23, 2010 2:48 pm

lhc-tunnelAre you ready for some subatomic smash-ups? Good, because the Large Hadron Collider is about ready to get serious. Everyone’s favorite long-delayed particle collider fended off rumors of its demise earlier in the month, and last week it reached a new energy record for its circulating proton beams: 3.5 trillion electron volts (TeV). That marked the highest particle energy ever accomplished by humans. A week from today, March 30, the LHC will start trying to smash those two beams together for the highest energy collisions yet.

“Just lining the beams up is a challenge in itself: it’s a bit like firing needles across the Atlantic and getting them to collide half way,” said CERN’s Director for Accelerators and Technology, Steve Myers [AFP]. So while the CERN scientists will fire up the machine and make their first attempt on March 30, they acknowledge that it could take a few hours or days to get everything set and start gathering data.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Physics & Math

Rumors of the LHC's Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

By Andrew Moseman | March 10, 2010 10:03 am

lhcwide425It sounded again today like the Large Hadron Collider—previously the victim of technical failure, hackers, and avian sabateurs—was cursed. The BBC reported that the world’s largest particle collider would have to shut down at the end of 2011, possibly for an entire year, to address its mechanical problems, according to LHC director Steven Myers. The report states that the faults will delay the machine reaching its full potential for two years [BBC News].

Just one problem, though: While the information came out as another “LHC is broken” news break, Myers actually put forth the intended schedule more than a month ago. The LHC team announced that it would actually extend the physics run through until December 2011, before shutting the accelerator down for a year. The only real delay here has been to the reporting of the story [The Times]. Brian Cox, one of the project scientists, spent the morning tweeting up a storm in protest to the news handling of what he says is just a scheduled shutdown. (A typical tweet reads: “For the very last time – the #lhc story is a pile of merde, as we say at CERN. Scheduled maintenance stops are not bloody news!”)

The LHC will keep running until late next year at 7 trillion electron volts (TeV), as planned. The engineers will go in after that to carry out the planned maintenance on systems in the tunnel that have proven problematic so far; their improvements should allow the LHC to approach what was the goal from the start, doing physics at 14 TeV. In any case, the machine’s upcoming resting time isn’t an emergency shutdown. Particle accelerators are regularly shut down for re-engineering. They are huge, complex instruments, and it’s just impossible to run them full-time like a domestic boiler [The Times].

Related Content:
80beats: LHC Beam Zooms Past 1 Trillion Electron Volts, Sets World Record
80beats: Baguettes and Sabateurs from the Future Defeated: LHC Smashes Particles
DISCOVER: A Tumultuous Year at the LHC
Discoblog: LHC Shut Down By Wayward Baguette, Dropped By Bird Saboteur

Image: Claudia Marcelloni / CERN

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Physics & Math

LHC Beam Zooms Past 1 Trillion Electron Volts, Sets World Record

By Andrew Moseman | November 30, 2009 9:57 am

lhcwide425Long hyped as the largest science experiment ever built, the Large Hadron Collider now has a world record for doing something: accelerating particles with more energy than any accelerator ever has.

On Sunday evening, at 6:44 p.m. eastern time in the United States, engineers at the Switzerland-based accelerator increased the energy of this “pilot beam”, reaching 1.18 trillion electron volts…. The previous record of 0.98 trillion electron volts has been held by the Tevatron accelerator since 2001 [BBC News].

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Physics & Math
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