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CERA's Large Hadron Collider


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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« on: January 03, 2013, 01:44:55 pm »


from The Guardian....

Higgs boson was just a start for CERN's atom smasher other mysteries await

The Large Hadron Collider will shut down for an overhaul in preparation for
exploring questions of dark matter, extra dimensions and other universes.


By IAN SAMPLE | 6:57PM GMT - Tuesday, 1st January 2013

The Large Hadron Collider at CERN faces a two-year shutdown while engineers do repairs so it can ramp up to its maximum energy in 2015 and beyond.  Photo: Mark Thiessen/National Geographic Society/Corbis.
The Large Hadron Collider at CERN faces a two-year shutdown while engineers
do repairs so it can ramp up to its maximum energy in 2015 and beyond.
  Photo: Mark Thiessen/National Geographic Society/Corbis.


WHEN IT comes to shutting down the most powerful atom smasher ever built, it's not simply a question of pressing the off switch.

In the French-Swiss countryside on the far side of Geneva, staff at the CERN particle physics laboratory are taking steps to wind down the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). After the latest run of experiments ends next month, the huge superconducting magnets that line the LHC's 27km-long tunnel must be warmed up, slowly and gently, from -271 degrees Celsius to room temperature. Only then can engineers descend into the tunnel to begin their work.

The machine that last year helped scientists snare the elusive Higgs boson or a convincing subatomic impostor faces a two-year shutdown while engineers perform repairs that are needed for the collider to ramp up to its maximum energy in 2015 and beyond. The work will beef up electrical connections in the machine that were identified as weak spots after an incident four years ago that knocked the collider out for more than a year.

The accident happened days after the LHC was first switched on in September 2008, when a short circuit blew a hole in the machine and sprayed six tonnes of helium into the tunnel that houses the collider. Soot was scattered over 700 metres. Since then, the machine has been forced to run at near half its design energy to avoid another disaster.

The particle accelerator, which reveals new physics at work by crashing together the innards of atoms at close to the speed of light, fills a circular, subterranean tunnel a staggering eight kilometres in diameter. Physicists will not sit around idle while the collider is down. There is far more to know about the new Higgs-like particle, and clues to its identity are probably hidden in the piles of raw data the scientists have already gathered, but have had too little time to analyse.


The Large Hadron Collider at CERN faces a two-year shutdown so engineers can ramp up its maximum energy.
The Large Hadron Collider at CERN faces a two-year shutdown so engineers can ramp up its maximum energy.

But the LHC was always more than a Higgs hunting machine. There are other mysteries of the universe that it may shed light on. What is the dark matter that clumps invisibly around galaxies? Why are we made of matter, and not antimatter? And why is gravity such a weak force in nature? "We're only a tiny way into the LHC programme," says Pippa Wells, a physicist who works on the LHC's 7,000-tonne Atlas detector. "There's a long way to go yet."

The hunt for the Higgs boson, which helps explain the masses of other particles, dominated the publicity around the LHC for the simple reason that it was almost certainly there to be found. The lab fast-tracked the search for the particle, but cannot say for sure whether it has found it, or some more exotic entity.

"The headline discovery was just the start," says Wells. "We need to make more precise measurements, to refine the particle's mass and understand better how it is produced, and the ways it decays into other particles." Scientists at CERN expect to have a more complete identikit of the new particle by March, when repair work on the LHC begins in earnest.

By its very nature, dark matter will be tough to find, even when the LHC switches back on at higher energy. The label "dark" refers to the fact that the substance neither emits nor reflects light. The only way dark matter has revealed itself so far is through the pull it exerts on galaxies.

Studies of spinning galaxies show they rotate with such speed that they would tear themselves apart were there not some invisible form of matter holding them together through gravity. There is so much dark matter, it outweighs by five times the normal matter in the observable universe.


Proton-proton collisions during the search for the Higgs boson.
Proton-proton collisions during the search for the Higgs boson.

The search for dark matter on Earth has failed to reveal what it is made of, but the LHC may be able to make the substance. If the particles that constitute it are light enough, they could be thrown out from the collisions inside the LHC. While they would zip through the collider's detectors unseen, they would carry energy and momentum with them. Scientists could then infer their creation by totting up the energy and momentum of all the particles produced in a collision, and looking for signs of the missing energy and momentum.

One theory, called supersymmetry, proposes that the universe is made from twice as many varieties of particles as we now understand. The lightest of these particles is a candidate for dark matter.

Wells says that ramping up the energy of the LHC should improve scientists' chances of creating dark matter: "That would be a huge improvement on where we are today. We would go from knowing what 4% of the universe is, to around 25%."

Teasing out the constituents of dark matter would be a major prize for particle physicists, and of huge practical value for astronomers and cosmologists who study galaxies.

"Although the big PR focus has been on the Higgs, in fact looking for new particles to provide clues to the big open questions is the main reason for having the LHC," says Gerry Gilmore, professor of experimental philosophy at the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge.


A collision event between two lead ions in the Large Hadron Collider as observed by the ALICE detector.
A collision event between two lead ions in the Large Hadron Collider as observed by the ALICE detector.

"Reality on the large scale is dark matter, with visible matter just froth on the substance. So we focus huge efforts on trying to find out if dark matter is a set of many elementary particles, and hope that some of those particles' properties will also help to explain some other big questions."

"So far, astronomy has provided all the information on dark matter, and many of us are working hard to deduce more of its properties. Finding something at the LHC would be wonderful in helping us in understanding that. Of course one needs both the LHC and astronomy. The LHC may find the ingredients nature uses, but astronomy delivers the recipe nature made reality from."

Another big mystery the Large Hadron Collider may help crack is why we are made of matter instead of antimatter. The big bang should have flung equal amounts of matter and antimatter into the early universe, but today almost all we see is made of matter. What happened at the dawn of time to give matter the upper hand?

The question is central to the work of scientists on the LHCb detector. Collisions inside LHCb produce vast numbers of particles called beauty quarks, and their antimatter counterparts, both of which were common in the aftermath of the big bang. Through studying their behaviour, scientists hope to understand why nature seems to prefer matter over antimatter.

"Unlike supersymmetry or the Higgs, there's no theory of antimatter that we can test," says Tara Shears, a physicist who works on the LHCb detector. "We don't know why antimatter behaves a little differently to normal matter, but perhaps that difference can be explained by a deeper underlying theory of particle physics, which includes new physics that we haven't found yet."


A simulated black hole created by the Large Hadron Collider.
A simulated black hole created by the Large Hadron Collider.

Turning up the energy of the LHC may just give scientists an answer to the question of why gravity is so weak. The force that keeps our feet on the ground may not seem puny, but it certainly is. With just a little effort, we can jump in the air, and so overcome the gravitational pull of the whole six thousand billion billon tonnes of the planet. The other forces of nature are far stronger.

One explanation for gravity's weakness is that we experience only a fraction of the force, with the rest acting through microscopic, curled up extra dimensions of space. "The gravitational field we see is only the bit in our three dimensions, but actually there are lots of gravitational fields in the fourth dimension, the fifth dimension, and however many more you fancy," says Andy Parker, professor of high energy physics at Cambridge University. "It's an elegant idea. The only price you have to pay is that you have to invent these extra dimensions to explain where the gravity has gone."

The rules of quantum mechanics say that particles behave like waves, and as the LHC ramps up to higher energies the wavelengths of the particles it collides become ever shorter. When the wavelengths of the particles are small enough to match the size of the extra dimensions, they would suddenly feel gravity much more strongly.

"What you'd expect is that as you reach the right energy, you suddenly see inside the extra dimensions, and gravity becomes big and strong instead of feeble and weak," says Parker. The sudden extra pull of gravity would cause particles to scatter far more inside the machine, giving scientists a clear signal that extra dimensions were real.

Extra dimensions may separate us from realms of space we are completely oblivious to. "There could be a whole universe full of galaxies and stars and civilisations and newspapers that we didn't know about," says Parker. "That would be a big deal."


http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2013/jan/01/higgs-boson-large-hadron-collider



Other threads of interest @ XNC2....


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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2013, 11:47:21 am »


From the Los Angeles Times....

Nobel Prize in physics goes to Higgs and Englert

Associated Press | 4:18AM - Tuesday, October 08, 2013

A file photo taken on July 4th, 2012 shows British physicist Peter Higgs (right) speaking with his Belgian counterpart Francois Englert during a press conference at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) offices in Meyrin near Geneva. Francois Englert of Belgium and Peter Higgs of Britain won the Nobel Physics Prize on October 8th, 2013. — Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images.
A file photo taken on July 4th, 2012 shows British physicist Peter Higgs (right) speaking with his
Belgian counterpart Francois Englert during a press conference at the European Organization
for Nuclear Research (CERN) offices in Meyrin near Geneva. Francois Englert of Belgium
and Peter Higgs of Britain won the Nobel Physics Prize on October 8th, 2013.
 — Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images.


STOCKHOLM — Physicists Francois Englert of Belgium and Peter Higgs of Britain won the 2013 Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday for their theoretical discoveries on how subatomic particles acquire mass.

Their theories were confirmed last year by the discovery of the so-called Higgs particle, also known as the Higgs boson, at a laboratory in Geneva, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.

The announcement, which was widely expected, was delayed by one hour, which is highly unusual. The academy gave no immediate reason, other than saying on Twitter that it was “still in session” at the original announcement time.

The academy decides the winners in a majority vote on the day of the announcement.

“I am overwhelmed to receive this award and thank the Royal Swedish Academy,” Higgs said in a statement released by the University of Edinburgh.

“I hope this recognition of fundamental science will help raise awareness of the value of blue-sky research.”

Englert and Higgs theorized about the existence of the particle in the 1960s to provide an answer to a riddle: why matter has mass. The tiny particle, they believed, acts like molasses on snow — causing other basic building blocks of nature to stick together, slow down and form atoms.

But decades would pass before scientists at CERN, the Geneva-based European Organization for Nuclear Research, were able to confirm its existence. The European particle physics laboratory announced the news in July of last year.

Finding the particle — often referred to as the “God particle” — required teams of thousands of scientists and mountains of data from trillions of colliding protons in the world's biggest atom smasher — CERN's Large Hadron Collider — which produces energies simulating those 1 trillionth to 2 trillionths of a second after the Big Bang.

The collider cost $10 billion to build and run in a 17-mile (27-kilometer) tunnel beneath the Swiss-French border.

Only about one collision per trillion will produce one of the Higgs bosons in the collider, and it took CERN some time after the discovery of a new “Higgs-like” boson to decide that the particle was, in fact, very much like the Higgs boson expected in the original formulation, rather than a kind of variant.


http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-nobel-prize-in-physics-goes-to-higgs-and-englert-20131008,0,6375460.story
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« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2013, 11:47:31 am »


From the Los Angeles Times....

Nobel Prize in physics awarded to pair who theorized Higgs boson

Last year's confirmation of the existence of the Higgs boson, or ‘God’ particle, leads to the Nobel
for Belgium's Francois Englert and Britain's Peter Higgs, who theorized it nearly 50 years ago.


By ERYN BROWN | 9:05PM - Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Rolf-Dieter Heuer, director general at the European Organization for Nuclear Researche, or CERN, speaks to staff members at the laboratory near Geneva after the winners of the Nobel Prize in physics were announced. Crucial research on the Higgs boson was done at CERN. — Photo: Salvatore Di Nolfe/Associated Press/October 8th, 2013.
Rolf-Dieter Heuer, director general at the European Organization for Nuclear Researche, or CERN, speaks to staff members
at the laboratory near Geneva after the winners of the Nobel Prize in physics were announced. Crucial research on
the Higgs boson was done at CERN. — Photo: Salvatore Di Nolfe/Associated Press/October 8th, 2013.


THEY CALL IT the "God particle". It holds the key to humanity's presence on Earth — indeed, to the existence of all the matter in the universe.

Feuding nations have set aside their differences and devoted billions of dollars to finding it. Scientists built massive supercolliders capable of producing temperatures nearly as frigid as the coldest spots in outer space in their quest to unravel its secrets. Even then, it took nearly half a century to get a glimpse of the thing.

Now, in a crowning moment, two theoretical physicists have won the Nobel Prize in physics for having the gumption to envision that such a thing might have existed in the first place.

Way back in 1964, Belgium's Francois Englert and Britain's Peter Higgs independently theorized the existence of a subatomic particle that came to be known as the Higgs boson. It was key to explaining how things acquired mass, and became a cornerstone of the so-called Standard Model of particle physics.

The award was widely anticipated. To the winners, it seemed something of an afterthought following the dramatic announcement on July 4th, 2012, that the Higgs boson had been found.

"I'm very happy," said Englert, now 80, after the prize was announced Tuesday morning in Stockholm. "What can I say more?"

The reclusive Higgs, 84, limited his response to a 59-word statement posted on the website of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, where he is an emeritus professor of theoretical physics.

"I hope this recognition of fundamental science will help raise awareness of the value of blue-sky research," he wrote.

Many of the thousands of scientists who participated in the quest were more visibly excited about the award. They gathered in the atrium of the building in Switzerland that houses the Higgs-hunting teams at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, to listen to the announcement from Stockholm.

"When they mentioned Francois Englert's name the whole place erupted in applause and shouts," said UC Santa Barbara physicist Joseph Incandela, who led one of the CERN teams. "The same was repeated when we heard ‘Peter Higgs’ called out."

"Everyone just wanted to celebrate," he said in a statement released by the university. "We popped champagne bottles and drank toasts and everyone congratulated everyone."

As scientists homed in on the elusive particle last summer, it became a pop culture phenomenon, parodied by the likes of Stephen Colbert and even transformed into a cuddly plush doll with a sideways grin.

That would have been hard to imagine in the early 1960s, when scientists were making headway on the Standard Model. The theory describes the subatomic particles that are the basic building blocks of the universe, along with how they interact.

But theorists had a problem: Their equations only worked if particles had no mass. That was an impossibility in a universe loaded with stuff such as stars, planets and people.

Englert, along with collaborator Robert Brout, and Higgs each wrote separate papers that came up with a possible solution. They imagined that the universe might be permeated by an invisible field that essentially slowed particles down, imparting them with mass and allowing the world around us to exist.

"This one idea made all the equations work," said Robert Cousins, a physicist at UCLA.

The hypothesized field was eventually known as the Higgs field. If it existed, it would also be associated with a particle, which came to be known as the Higgs boson.

Over the years, numerous experiments supported the existence of a Higgs field, or something very much like it. But Englert and Higgs would not get complete recognition for their insight until scientists were able to detect a Higgs boson.

Physicists study subatomic particles by smashing beams of other particles at super-high speeds and analyzing the shrapnel that results from the collisions.

Scientists had an idea about what types of shrapnel they needed to see to confirm that the Higgs boson was real. But it was only with the construction of CERN's Large Hadron Collider near Geneva that they had the power they needed to see a Higgs boson, said Vivek Sharma, a particle physicist at UC San Diego who spent years commuting back and forth to Switzerland.

Earlier colliders, including Fermilab's Tevatron in Illinois, didn't have the juice. But experimental physicists thought that CERN's more energetic collider could do the job.

Sure enough, two large experiments known as CMS and ATLAS collected data that essentially confirmed the existence of a Higgs boson. That provided the evidence the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences needed to make the award to Englert and Higgs, the Nobel committee said.

Sharma, who led the CMS Higgs search, compared the predictions to a Dr. Seuss book he often read to his young daughter.

"It's like ‘Green Eggs and Ham’. You see something outrageous like that, you don't even want to touch it," he said. "But finally, we tasted green eggs and ham, and it tasted very good."

He said scientists kept up the difficult search — building increasingly powerful colliders and creating ever-larger collaborations — because "we want to know where we come from. What is this universe made of?"

Cousins, who also works with the CMS experiment, said it was gratifying to see Englert and Higgs win the prize at a time when many are skeptical of scientific pursuit.

"I'm happy we can be held up as an example where science works, and questions get answered, even if it takes 50 years," he said.

Cousins said he thought many would have been upset if the theorists hadn't won this year, simply because they are getting old. (Brout, who died in 2011, was not able to share in the $1.2-million award because the Nobel committee does not hand out prizes posthumously.)

Cousins also said he had heard that Higgs had "gone underground" for a few days and wouldn't emerge until later in the week.

"He figured it would be unbearable either way" — whether he won or not, Cousins joked.

The Nobel committee's announcement was delayed by one hour, which prompted Englert to fret that perhaps he and Higgs had been passed over, the Belgian winner said.

Englert, of the Universite Libre de Bruxelles, added that there were still many important questions remaining to be solved in particle physics. Scientists still hope to probe dark matter and dark energy as well, he said.

The Large Hadron Collider could help in those pursuits. It's shuttered for improvements right now, but will begin smashing proton beams again in 2015, this time at energies even higher than those that revealed the Higgs boson.

"The fact that we found the Higgs boson doesn't mean we're done," Cousins said.


http://www.latimes.com/science/la-sci-nobel-physics-higgs-20131009,0,1209673,full.story
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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2013, 11:47:46 am »


From the Los Angeles Times....

How the U.S. gave up on Nobel Prize research

By ICHAEL HILTZIK | 12:26PM - Wednesday, October 09, 2013

A computer-generated picture of a proton-proton collision within the Large Hadron Collider. — Image: AFP/CERN.
A computer-generated picture of a proton-proton collision within the Large Hadron Collider. — Image: AFP/CERN.

THIS WEEK'S AWARD of the Nobel Prize in physics to Peter Higgs of the University of Edinburgh and Francois Englert of the Free University of Brussels is a reminder of how the U.S. blew the chance to confirm their theory of the "Higgs boson".

The confirmation came from the Large Hadron Collider at the European Center for Nuclear Research, or CERN. The LHC reigns as the world's most powerful particle accelerator only because the U.S. Congress, in a sadly cheeseparing mood, canceled the the Superconducting Super Collider, or SSC, in 1993. That's as good an example of America's shortsightedness in promoting basic science as you can find.

Let's ask Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg of the University of Texas to tell the story. As Weinberg related last year in the New York Review of Books, the SSC project was launched in 1980 to build a device that could accelerate particles to 20 trillion electron-volts. That's three times the energy that the Large Hadron Collider can produce even today.

After more than 10 years of preparation and the expenditure of $2 billion, Texas was chosen as the site for the vast machine. Then Congress pulled the plug.

"Spending for the SSC had become a target for a new class of congressmen elected in 1992," Weinberg wrote. "They were eager to show that they could cut what they saw as Texas pork, and they didn’t feel that much was at stake."

Spin-offs might have changed their mind, but "spin-offs can’t be promised in advance."

Weinberg recalls one telling encounter with a congressman who opposed the SSC. "He said that he wasn’t against spending on science, but that we had to set priorities. I explained that the SSC was going to help us learn the laws of nature, and I asked if that didn’t deserve a high priority. I remember every word of his answer. It was ‘No’."

That defines the narrow-mindedness of American politicians today. The SSC was the latest example of Big Science, the industrial-scale research that is necessary in many advanced fields, such as high-energy physics or molecular biology.

Big Science is an American invention. It was pioneered at Berkeley by Ernest O. Lawrence, the creator of the cyclotron, which is the direct forebear of both the LHC and the SSC. Lawrence (who is the subject of my next book), is known today largely as the namesake of the Lawrence Berkeley and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories. He was a genius at obtaining funding from public sources such as the state and federal governments, as well as private foundations and industry. Without their support his cyclotron might never have come into existence.

Lawrence understood that each new discovery with cyclotrons, which soon became standard equipment at major research universities, spurred the need for bigger and better machines, which made new discoveries requiring yet another generation of equipment. But he and his colleagues knew that the human quest for knowledge is unending.

Unless it runs into a budget-cutting Congress. Weinberg observes that the crisis in scientific funding goes beyond the collider: "In the past decade, the National Science Foundation has seen the fraction of grant proposals that it can fund drop from 33% to 23%."

With its enormous power, the SSC would almost certainly have confirmed the Higgs boson before CERN. (It's proper to observe that this year's Nobel went to the theorists behind the Higgs, rather than the confirmation team at CERN.) But the confirmation of the Higgs boson, which gives mass to electrons and quarks, the building blocks of nature, is only an intermediate step in a quest for basic knowledge that may truly be never-ending. Among the elusive quarries is the secret of gravitation, a law of nature that also deserves a high priority.

And that means physicists will need more support from their governments. "That is going to be a very hard sell," Weinberg wrote last year. He's right. But if the United States is to maintain — no, regain — its proper position as the world center of scientific research, we should hope he's wrong.


http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-mh-nobel-prize-20131009,0,3974745.story
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Kiwithrottlejockey
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« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2015, 06:49:05 pm »


CRANKING UP
(click on the picture to read the news story)
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