The multibillion-dollar collider made international news on Sept. 10, 2008, when it sent its first beam of protons around 17 miles of underground tunnel near Geneva, Switzerland. But breakdowns in the machine's high-current electrical connections forced a complete shutdown for more than a year of repairs and tests.
Physicists from around the world cheered on Nov. 20, 2009, when the collider once again sent protons racing through its tunnel. Three days later the machine recorded its first proton-proton collisions. And on Nov. 30 it set a new world record when it accelerated two beams of protons to a total energy of 2.36 trillion electron volts.
Physicists at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, shut down the collider on Dec. 16 to prepare for even higher energy collisions later this year.
"The data look just beautiful," said Soeren Prell, an Iowa State associate professor of physics and astronomy.
Prell has been looking at the first data recorded with the ATLAS experiment's silicon pixel detector. The pixel detector is the innermost part of ATLAS, one of two giant, general purpose detectors at the collider. ATLAS will measure the paths, energies and identities of the particles created when protons or lead ions collide at unprecedented energies. The pixel detector uses 80 million pixels to make precise measurements as close to the particle collisions as possible.
Prell said the pixel detector is already sending physicists fairly clean data with very little background noise. But, he said, physicists still have to work to make sure the pixel detector is properly aligned and calibrated. It has a resolution down to 10 millionths of a meter and so it has to be just as precisely aligned.
The detector's data also has to be distributed to physicists around the world for study and analysis. Jim Cochran, an associate professor of physics and astronomy, is the ATLAS experiment's analysis support manager for the United States. It's his job to make sure researchers have the data they need for their analyses.
And, so far, the experiment's analysis system has been able to keep up with the data. But that's going to be a bigger challenge when the collider is turned back on in February and begins running at higher energies and much higher collision rates.
"One of the concerns I've had is whether we'll be able to handle the data loads we're expecting," Cochran said. "We have to have our computing systems optimized so we can do it. We've already had 700,000 collision events, and that's nothing compared to what's coming."
That's just one of the reasons Chunhui Chen, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy, is telling people that big, new, Nobel-winning physics from the Large Hadron Collider won't happen right away. There's just too much data to collect, distribute and analyze.
But, "This is a very big moment," said Chen, who's working on the ATLAS experiment's pixel detector and the ATLAS trigger system that recognizes and records interesting collision events. "Potentially, we'll be able to see some new physics."
That could include the Higgs boson, a particle predicted by the Standard Model of particle physics. The model theorizes that space is filled with a Higgs field and particles acquire their masses by interacting with the field. Detection and study of the Higgs could answer basic questions about why matter has mass and how particles acquire mass.
Physicists also hope the higher energies made possible by the Large Hadron Collider could answer big physics questions about matter and antimatter, dark matter, supersymmetry, extra dimensions, a grand unified theory or perhaps something entirely unexpected.
"One hundred years ago physicists discovered special relativity and quantum mechanics," Chen said. "We know our understanding of physics is incomplete. We don't know what's beyond our understanding. And so this is going to be a long research program. It will take years of dedicated study to really unearth the secrets of the universe."
Soeren Prell | EurekAlert!
DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor
24.04.2017 | DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology)
New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers
21.04.2017 | California Institute of Technology
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.04.2017 | Life Sciences