Michigan integral to world's largest physics experiment

Sep 05, 2008

After 20 years of construction, a machine that could either verify or nullify the prevailing theory of particle physics is about to begin its mission. CERN's epic Large Hadron Collider (LHC) project currently involves 25 University of Michigan physicists and students. More than 100 U-M researchers have been involved in the project over the years. CERN is the European Organization for Nuclear Research, located in Geneva, Switzerland.

The historic multibillion-dollar project aims to answer lingering questions about the laws of nature and the nature of matter by smashing protons and other particles together and examining the wreckage.

The collider---the world's largest---is scheduled to send the first proton beam zipping through its 17-mile tunnel on Sept. 10. Scientists expect it will take four to eight weeks to adjust the beams to produce particle collisions. They hope to observe the first collisions between Oct. 8 and Nov. 5.

"The Large Hadron Collider should address some of the most fundamental questions facing science now," said Homer Neal, the Samuel A. Goudsmit Professor of Physics and the U-M Institutional Representative for the ATLAS Experiment at the LHC. "This is an extremely exciting time to be involved with the project and with so many bright and dedicated faculty colleagues and sharp post-docs and students. It's been a long wait."

ATLAS is one of the two large particle detectors on the collider. Michigan physicists and students helped design and build it. ATLAS and CMS, the other large particle detector, are looking for the same new particles, but in different ways. They back each other up, but they also will compete.

Neal has been working at CERN periodically for 40 years. He was also on the board of overseers of the Superconducting Super Collider project in Texas that was scrapped in 1993 in the early stages of construction.

"Many of us who have been eager to search for the Higgs boson and to explore other particles have been waiting not just during the period we've been working on the CERN LHC, but even before then, as we watched the Texas project undergo years of planning and then crumble," Neal said.

The Higgs boson particle is perhaps the most sought-after prize of the project. The Standard Model of particle physics theorizes that it gives other particles mass. This theory says the Higgs creates a field that particles with mass interact with. Particles without mass don't interact with this field. The Higgs should be detectable at the energies the collider is capable of producing. If scientists find it, their Standard Model survives.

"If it does not exist," Neal said, "we'll clearly have to go back to the drawing board. That would shake the foundation of how we believe the smallest components of matter interact with each other and how mass itself is created. But even this outcome would be extremely exciting and would launch new avenues of exploration."

The Standard Model attempts to unify the forces of nature. Since its inception in the 1970s it has accurately predicted experimental results. But the role of the Higgs in generating mass has not yet been confirmed. The origin of mass remains a mystery. Furthermore, the Standard Model doesn't explain the existence of the dark matter and dark energy that scientists believe makes up 96 percent of the universe.

The collider will, in essence, recreate the conditions of the earliest universe.It will tear apart particles so physicists can study their components and observe as the particles put themselves back together.

Michigan researchers built components of ATLAS called muon detectors that Bing Zhou, professor in the U-M Physics Department says should play a lead role in finding the Higgs.

"These muon detectors will have the best chance of finding the signal for decay of the Higgs boson through the muon final states," said Zhou, who is leader of U.S. ATLAS muon detector development and construction.

U-M researchers are involved in several experiments as well. In addition to searching for the Higgs boson, they will hunt for evidence of supersymmetry, a theory that all currently known particles have a heavier shadow particle called a superpartner. Supersymmetric particles are one candidate for dark matter and dark energy.

U-M experimenters will also examine how high energy collisions affect particle spin, another fundamental quantum property with a broad impact on the structure of matter.

Source: University of Michigan

Explore further: Hide and seek: Sterile neutrinos remain elusive

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cornell theorists continue the search for supersymmetry

Sep 16, 2014

(Phys.org) —It was a breakthrough with profound implications for the world as we know it: the Higgs boson, the elementary particle that gives all other particles their mass, discovered at the Large Hadron ...

Is the universe a stable quantum system?

Sep 10, 2014

According to legend, when Damocles declared that his king, Dionysius, must have a posh and easy life, Dionysius offered to trade places with Damocles. There was only one catch. Dionysius decreed that a sword ...

Upgrading the Large Hadron Collider

Jul 09, 2014

Scientists from the Particle Physics Research Group at the University of Bristol are currently working on upgrades to the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the particle accelerator and collider located at CERN ...

Recommended for you

Hide and seek: Sterile neutrinos remain elusive

11 hours ago

The Daya Bay Collaboration, an international group of scientists studying the subtle transformations of subatomic particles called neutrinos, is publishing its first results on the search for a so-called ...

Novel approach to magnetic measurements atom-by-atom

15 hours ago

Having the possibility to measure magnetic properties of materials at atomic precision is one of the important goals of today's experimental physics. Such measurement technique would give engineers and physicists an ultimate ...

Scientists demonstrate Stokes drift principle

19 hours ago

In nature, waves – such as those in the ocean – begin as local oscillations in the water that spread out, ripple fashion, from their point of origin. But fans of Star Trek will recall a different sort of wave pattern: ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

HenisDov
not rated yet Jul 28, 2009
On The Origin Of Origins

Dark Matter-Energy And %u201CHiggs%u201D?
Energy-Mass Superposition
The Fractal Oneness Of The Universe
All Earth Life Creates and Maintains Genes


A. On Energy, Mass, Gravity, Galaxies Clusters AND Life, A Commonsensible Recapitulation
http://www.the-sc...age#2125
The universe is the archetype of quantum within classical physics, which is the fractal oneness of the universe.

Astronomically there are two physics. A classical physics behaviour of and between galactic clusters, and a quantum physics behaviour WITHIN the galactic clusters.

The onset of big-bang's inflation, the cataclysmic resolution of the Original Superposition, started gravity, with formation - BY DISPERSION - of galactic clusters that behave as classical Newtonian bodies and continuously reconvert their original pre-inflation masses back to energy, thus fueling the galactic clusters expansion, and with endless quantum-within-classical intertwined evolutions WITHIN the clusters in attempt to delay-resist this reconversion.


B. Updated Life's Manifest May 2009
http://www.physfo...ic=14988&st=480&#entry412704
http://www.the-sc...age#2321

All Earth life creates and maintains Genes. Genes, genomes, cellular organisms - All create and maintain genes.

For Nature, Earth's biosphere is one of the many ways of temporarily constraining an amount of ENERGY within a galaxy within a galactic cluster, for thus avoiding, as long as possible, spending this particularly constrained amount as part of the fuel that maintains the clusters expansion.

Genes are THE Earth's organisms and ALL other organisms are their temporary take-offs.

For Nature genes are genes are genes. None are more or less important than the others. Genes and their take-offs, all Earth organisms, are temporary energy packages and the more of them there are the more enhanced is the biosphere, Earth's life, Earth's temporary storage of constrained energy. This is the origin, the archetype, of selected modes of survival.

The early genes came into being by solar energy and lived a very long period solely on direct solar energy. Metabolic energy, the indirect exploitation of solar energy, evolved at a much later phase in the evolution of Earth's biosphere.

However, essentially it is indeed so. All Earth life, all organisms, create and maintain the genes. Genes, genomes, cellular organisms - all create and maintain genes.


Dov Henis
(Comments from 22nd century)