Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Is the Vacuum Empty? – the Higgs Field and the Dark Energy

11.05.2007
The problems in understanding the true nature of the “vacuum” of space were discussed by theoretical physicist Alvaro de Rújula from CERN (the European Council for Nuclear Research) in Geneva, Switzerland, and a professor of physics at Boston University at the EPL symposium, “Physics In Our Times” held today (10 May) at the Fondation Del Duca de l’Institut de France, Paris.

“As it turns out, the vacuum is not empty - there is a difference between the vacuum and nothingness,” he stated. “Surprisingly, of all known ‘substances’, the vacuum is the least well understood.”

From the point of view of cosmology, the vacuum appears to have an energy density, which is sometimes called “dark energy” or the “cosmological constant”, responsible for the observed accelerated expansion of the universe. From a particle physics viewpoint, the vacuum is permeated by a “Higgs Field” - named after physicist Peter Higgs. In the Standard Model of particle physics (which has mapped the subatomic world with remarkable success for over 30 years), the masses of all particles are generated as a result of their interactions with this field.

It should also be possible to detect excitations of the Higgs field in the form of a particle known as the “Higgs boson”. Detecting the Higgs - the only particle in the Standard Model that has not been observed experimentally - is therefore one of the outstanding challenges in particle physics today. Scientists hope to detect the Higgs using CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), due to come online in November this year. The LHC will be the world’s largest particle accelerator, colliding protons on protons at a total energy of 16 TeV (16x1012 eV) to generate what physicists hope will be a slew of new particles, including the Higgs.

The LHC will also search for many hypothetical particles other than the Higgs boson in what is called “physics beyond the Standard Model”, with “supersymmetry” being a promising candidate idea. Supersymmetric extensions of the Standard Model predict that all fundamental particles - such as quarks, photons and electrons - have ‘cousins’: their so-called `superpartners’, yet to be discovered.

Dr. de Rújula’s favourite achievement to date, in collaboration with Sheldon Glashow and Howard Georgi, has been understanding the masses of particles made of quarks. “My colleagues Arnon Dar and Shlomo Dado and I also believe we have recently solved the two main problems of high-energy astrophysics, gamma ray bursts and cosmic rays, but astrophysicists do not (yet) agree with this,” explained Dr. de Rújula.

Looking to the future, Dr. de Rújula believes that the LHC will teach us “something fundamental”. Apart from finding the Higgs, it is possible that the collider will produce the “dark matter” particles indirectly observed in the universe. “However, even if the LHC finds nothing this would also be very interesting because it would tell us that we haven’t understood anything about the vacuum. A complete lack of understanding often precedes a scientific revolution” he said.

Dianne Stilwell | alfa
Further information:
http://www.iop.org/EJ/journal/EPL

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Seeing the quantum future... literally
16.01.2017 | University of Sydney

nachricht Airborne thermometer to measure Arctic temperatures
11.01.2017 | Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

Im Focus: Newly proposed reference datasets improve weather satellite data quality

UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration

"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...

Im Focus: Repairing defects in fiber-reinforced plastics more efficiently

Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.

Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Multiregional brain on a chip

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

New technology enables 5-D imaging in live animals, humans

16.01.2017 | Information Technology

Researchers develop environmentally friendly soy air filter

16.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>