Scientists at CERN are colliding protons at unprecedented levels of energy to unravel our world’s most enduring mysteries, including dark matter, which we know little about despite accounting for 26.8% of all mass and energy.
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), restarted for the third time after an extensive upgrade, broke energy records when it was turned on again today, allowing physicists to continue their study of the Higgs boson and what the decay of this particle might reveal about the rest of the universe.
The collision of proton beams with a power of 13.6 teraelectronvolts allowed the LHC to break the record; To give an idea of the power released at a particle collider located 300 feet underground, one teraelectronvolt is equivalent to 1,000,000,000,000 electronvolts.
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CERN physicist Katherine Leney, pictured above, works on the ATLAS experiment and is a research assistant professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. She spoke to the Daily Mail about her work and her hopes for the future.
‘We think [dark matter] has mass, but we don’t know anything about it,” CERN physicist Katherine Leney, who works on the ATLAS experiment and is a research assistant professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, told the Daily Mail in a telephone interview.
“We think it might be the Higgs boson interacting with it – we don’t know yet.”
Despite all our scientific advances, we only know about visible matter—everything we can see—that makes up only 4.9 percent of the entire universe. Dark energy, about which we know even less, makes up 68.3 percent of the universe.
“Because these dark matter particles — if they didn’t interact with other particles in any other way, they wouldn’t interact with our detector,” Leni explained in an interview.
The LHC broke the record when it reached 13.6 teraelectronvolts, equivalent to 13.6 trillion electronvolts. Pictured above is a still from the official relaunch video for the third run.
Despite the fact that it accounts for 26.8% of all mass and energy, we know very little about dark matter. The photo shows a visual representation of dark matter in the universe.
During the shutdown, the Large Hadron Collider and all detectors associated with it were seriously upgraded. In the picture above, scientists are celebrating the start of the third launch.
Scientists will analyze how the Higgs boson interacts with other particles. Pictured above is part of the Large Hadron Collider.
“The only way we can tell they are there is by looking for the absence of their presence in the detector.”
Despite its name, dark matter does not have an ominous or dubious connotation. It’s named so simply because it doesn’t seem to interact with photons – and these particles are pockets of light – and it can’t be seen.
If the Higgs boson had interacted with dark matter, it would have decayed differently so that scientists could then study what happened.
THE HIGGS BOSON CARRIES MASS AND IS A FUNDAMENTAL PART OF THE STANDARD MODEL OF PARTICLE PHYSICS
The Higgs boson, an elementary particle, is one of the building blocks of the universe according to the Standard Model of particle physics.
It was named after physicist Peter Higgs as part of the mechanism that explains why particles have mass.
According to the Standard Model, our universe is made up of 12 particles of matter, including six quarks and six leptons.
He also has four forces – gravity, electromagnetism, strong and weak.
Every force has a corresponding carrier particle, known as a boson, that acts on matter.
The theory was that the Higgs boson was responsible for the mass transfer.
It was first proposed in 1964 and was not discovered until 2012, during the launch of the Large Hadron Collider.
The discovery was important because if it were shown that it did not exist, it would mean breaking the Standard Model and returning to the drawing board.
“From the laws of conservation of energy, we know that the energy we put into the detector must be equal to the energy we emit in a collision,” Leni said.
“If we put in energy but don’t see enough matter coming out, we can say that there must be something else here to not violate these laws of conservation of energy, and then it could be something like dark matter.”
Leni specifically studies how the Higgs boson interacts with itself and how it generates mass, which can be seen as a key piece of the puzzle scientists are putting together.
This work will give them insight into topics such as the formation of the universe and even its ultimate fate.
Ten years ago, CERN scientists announced that they had proven the existence of the Higgs boson.
This particle, first proposed in the 1960s by physicist Peter Higgs, is essentially the physical manifestation of the Higgs field.
“This field pervades the entire universe — everything that has mass interacts with the Higgs boson,” Leni said.
Since the end of its last run a few years ago, all of the equipment at CERN, including its massive four detectors, has been upgraded. In addition, scientists will be able to analyze large amounts of data using high-tech calculations and major software improvements.
“Over the past few years, machine learning has been a game changer,” Leni said.
“When we read data from a detector, we use machine learning techniques to improve our ability to identify different types of particles, and then we use them when we actually do the analysis to separate what we are doing from other physical processes. .’
“I’m working on finding the creation of pairs of Higgs bosons, which is a thousand times rarer than the production of a single Higgs boson,” she explained, adding that machine learning has helped scientists far exceed predictions of where they thought they would be a few years ago. .
“We are aiming to provide 1.6 billion proton-proton collisions per second for the ATLAS and CMS experiments,” CERN head of accelerators and technology Mike Lamont told AFP.
“We all really hope that there is something beyond the Standard Model. We are really just starting this work, ”Leni emphasized in an interview with the Daily Mail.