August 18, 2022


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CERN researchers operate the Large Hadron Collider in the search for dark matter

CERN researchers operate the Large Hadron Collider in the search for dark matter

Ten years ago, a team running the world’s largest particle collider made history by discovering the Higgs boson, a discovery key to understanding the formation of the universe, earning it the nickname “the God particle.”

After more than three years of pause for upgrades, the accelerator, operated by the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, is collecting data again. This time it’s time to prove the existence of another mysterious substance – dark matter.

Although scientists largely believe that dark matter is real, none of them have been able to see it or make it up. Data collection and power upgrades made on the particle smasher, called the Large Hadron Collider, could provide researchers with one of their best opportunities to visualize and understand matter.

“If we can figure out the properties of dark matter, we learn what our galaxy is made of,” said Joshua Ruderman, associate professor of physics at New York University. “It will be transformative.”

Scientists’ search for the Higgs boson results in a new subatomic particle

Dark matter has fascinated physicists for decades. It is widely believed to constitute an important part of the universe, and knowing more about it can provide clues about how the universe came to be.

All the stars, planets and galaxies in the universe represent only 5% of the matter of the universe, According to scientists in CERN. Roughly 27 percent of the universe is believed to be made up of dark matter that does not absorb, reflect, or emit light, making it extremely difficult to detect. Researchers say it’s there because they’ve seen its gravitational pull on objects – and seen how it helps bend light.

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Researchers hope the Large Hadron Collider can help. The LHC was built over a decade by the European Organization for Nuclear Research to help answer outstanding questions in particle physics. The device is located approx 328 feet underground In a tunnel near the French-Swiss border and the city of Geneva. Its circumference extends approximately 17 miles.

Inside the collider, superconducting magnets are cooling to nearly 456 degrees Fahrenheit – colder than space – while two beams of particles close to the speed of light collide. Using sophisticated sensors and screens, scientists are analyzing the material from those collisions, which replicate conditions similar to the Big Bang. Allows them to learn about The first moments of the universe.

The machine started operating in September 2008 but was shut down several times for improvements. Over the past three years, engineers have upgraded the collider so that it can detect more data and operate at higher speeds. Now the accelerator can operate at its highest energy level ever, 13.6 trillion electron volts, allowing scientists to conduct larger and more complex experiments that could yield new insights into particle physics.

“That’s a big increase,” He said Mike Lamont, CERN Director of Accelerators and Technology. Paving the way for new discoveries.

Higgs boson and what that means for technology

In the early universe, particles had no mass, so scientists have long wondered how stars, planets, and extra life form. In 1964, physicists François Englert, Peter Higgs and others theorized that a force field gives particles mass when they come into contact, but they were unable to document the existence of the entity.

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The discovery of the Higgs boson particle, part of the putative force field, earned Englert and Higgs A. Nobel Prize in Physics.

This particle has astonished scientists and the general public alike. CERN and the Collider feature prominently in Dan Brown’s book and film adaptation.Angels and Demons. “

But now researchers want to answer more vexing questions, especially those surrounding dark matter.

During the four-year Large Hadron Collider experiment, scientists hope to find evidence of dark matter. As they run the device, the protons will spin at nearly the speed of light. The hope is that when they collide, the researchers said, they create new particles that have similar properties to dark matter.

They also hope to learn more about how the Higgs boson behaves. On Tuesday, shortly after the collider began collecting data, scientists at CERN announce They have discovered three new “strange” particles that could provide clues about how subatomic particles relate to each other.

“High Energy Colliders remain the most powerful microscope at our disposal to explore nature on the smallest scales and discover the fundamental laws that govern the universe,” He said Gian Giudice, Head of Theory Department at CERN.

At the Large Hadron Collider, a peek into the future of science

CERN’s quest to learn about dark matter and explain the origins of the universe has made CERN anxiously await the results of the experiment, said Ruderman of New York University. Research excites him greatly. “That’s why I get up in the morning,” he said.

Once the data starts coming out of the experiment, Ruderman will see if it produces new particles. Even if it did, it would immediately be difficult to tell if it was dark matter or not.

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First, they will need to assess whether or not the particle in question is emitting light. If so, this reduces the possibility of it being dark matter. Second, the particle should show signs of being around for a long time and not decay right away, because dark matter in theory should be able to last billions of years. They also hope that the particle will behave similarly to current theories of dark matter.

It could take more than four years, Rodman said, to make this discovery.

If CERN scientists don’t discover dark matter in the next four years, they will have more promotions in the works. The upgrades will likely take three years after the current shutdown, leaving the fourth round of data collection and trials to begin in 2029.

As planned, the experiment could capture 10 times more data than previous experiments, according to CERNWeb site for . But revealing the secrets of the universe is not easy.

“This is difficult, and something that can take a lifetime of exploration,” Ruderman said.