13Apr2012

Closing In On The ‘God Particle.

The search for the Higgs boson has been taking place near Geneva in a 27-kilometre circular tunnel 100 metres below the ground.

Early in the morning of April 2, 2012 (at 00:38 CEST) opposing stable beams of protons were smashed into each other at four observation positions.

The LHC shift crew declared ‘stable beams’ as two 4 TeV proton beams were brought into collision at the LHC’s four interaction points. LHC beams include trillions of these particles, each travelling at more than 99.999999% of the speed of light! The Large Hadron Collider‘s winter break is over and a search for Higgs boson continues..   

This signals the start of physics data taking by the LHC experiments for 2012. The collision energy of 8 TeV is a new world record, and increases the machine’s discovery potential considerably.

“The experience of two good years of running at 3.5 TeV per beam gave us the confidence to increase the energy for this year without any significant risk to the machine,” explained Steve Myers, Director for Accelerators and Technology of CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research).

“Now it’s over to the experiments to make the best of the increased discovery potential we’re delivering them!” The total collision energy – eight trillion electron volts, which is a world record. Scientists expect the big boost in capability to significantly increase the collider’s chances of discovering “new physics”.

Are we coming close to actually holding the very essence of creation?

Although the increase in collision energy is relatively modest, it translates to an increased discovery potential that can be several times higher for certain hypothetical particles.

 Some such particles, for example those predicted by supersymmetry, would be produced much more copiously at the higher energy.

Supersymmetry is a theory in particle physics that goes beyond the current Standard Model, and could account for the dark matter of the Universe.

Standard Model Higgs particles, if they exist, will also be produced more copiously at 8 TeV than at 7 TeV, but background processes that mimic the Higgs signal will also increase. That means that the full year’s running will still be necessary to convert the tantalising hints seen in 2011 into a discovery, or to rule out the Standard Model Higgs particle altogether.

Scientists of CERN expect the big boost in capability to significantly increase the collider’s chances of discovering “new physics”

“The increase in energy is all about maximising the discovery potential of the LHC,” said CERN Research Director Sergio Bertolucci.

“And in that respect, 2012 looks set to be a vintage year for particle physics.”

The LHC is now scheduled to run until the end of 2012, when it will go into its first long shutdown in preparation for running at an energy of 6.5 TeV per beam as of late 2014, with the ultimate goal of ramping up to the full design energy of 7 TeV.

Since first switching on in 2008, operators at the LHC have cautiously increased the energy contained in each of the bunches of protons sent around the 27km collider, located beneath the Franco-Swiss border.

It is planned that the collider will collect data until November, after which it will be upgraded during a shutdown period that will last 20 months. That should result in an operating proton beam energy of 14 trillion electronvolts, or teraelectronvolts – another great leap in capability.

The LHC collaboration hopes to reach that milestone in 2014, re-starting the hunt for novel physics in early 2015. In the 2012 run of experiments, the Higgs will be a key focus of all scientists involved in the experiments. Source: Message to Eagle