PHYSICISTS ARE ON THE BRINK OF UNLOCKING AN ELUSIVE PARTICLE’S SECRETS

WHEN PHYSICIST PETER Higgs won the 2013 Nobel prize for physics for predicting the fundamental particle that shares his name, he was nowhere to be found.

Unlike celebrity physicists like Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking, Higgs, who is in his 90s, decided to escape the limelight before the Nobels were even announced just in case he was awarded one — he didn’t even tell his closest collaborators where he had gone, and he had no phone, The Guardian reported at the time.

Yet, Higgs’ legacy endures. On Friday, April 22, scientists at CERN switched the particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider, back on for Run 3 — a new slate of scientific exploration into the strange world of particle physics supposed to start on April 25. The LHC discovered the Higgs boson. What might the scientists at CERN discover next?

HORIZONS explores the innovations of today that will shape the world of tomorrow. This is an adapted version of the April 25 edition of the HORIZONS newsletter.

A NEW ERA FOR CERN


CERN is ramping up Run 3 — and several experiments are focusing on neutrinos. These are among the most abundant particles in the universe — they are as tiny as an electron with a key difference: They have no electrical charge, hence the neutrino name. They are also almost massless and don’t tend to interact with other matter.

One of these investigations is called Scattering and Neutrino Detector at the LHC, or SND@LHC for short. It is the Large Hadron Collider’s ninth ever experiment. The reason why neutrinos are of such interest to physicists is that, though they are common throughout the cosmos, they are not well understood at all.

Together with a neutrino subdetector called FASERv, scientists hope to use SND@LHC to detect neutrinos in a particle accelerator for the first time. Curiously, scientists know that there are neutrinos produced in the particle accelerator and that they are at very high energies — yet they have never been detected. In the past, collider detectors hadn’t been set up to ‘see’ the particles, but the FASERv experiment means that is no longer the case.

OUR ANALYSIS — If CERN manages to solve the neutrino conundrum, then it will be a landmark moment for the world of fundamental physics and could help refine the Standard Model. The Standard Model helps explain the forces in the universe and how different fundamental particles fit together to generate the cosmos we call home. Neutrinos are also critical to understanding nuclear physics, from the fusion reactions that power stars to the fission reactions that occur in nuclear energy reactors.

The CERN Courier has more.

PHYSICISTS ARE ON THE BRINK OF UNLOCKING AN ELUSIVE PARTICLE’S SECRETS PHYSICISTS ARE ON THE BRINK OF UNLOCKING AN ELUSIVE PARTICLE’S SECRETS Reviewed by Rauf ahmed on April 27, 2022 Rating: 5

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