Top Ten Ways the Large Hadron Collider Could Revolutionize the World of Science 1. Solve the riddle of dark matter:
Content from Paul Halpern
the elusive invisible substance that helps steer the outer stars of galaxies and bind galaxies into clusters. The LHC could produce particles massive enough to explain this mystery. 2. Complete the puzzle of the Standard Model:
the theory uniting two of the four known forces of nature, electromagnetism and the weak interaction. Based on what turns up in the LHC decay products, this model could be confirmed or need to be modified. 3. Identify the God Particle:
more formally known as the Higgs boson. The Higgs is part of a mechanism that explains how the particles that make up matter acquired mass in the early universe, while photons, the carriers of light, remained massless. The mass of the Higgs, if it were found, would help indicate whether the Standard Model is fine as it stands or requires adjustment. 4. Reproduce some of the intense conditions of the Big Bang:
the fiery, highly-compact state of the primordial cosmos. One of the specialized detectors at the LHC, called ALICE, will study quark-gluon plasma, a state of matter that existed in the first microseconds of the universe. At that point its temperature was so high that the quarks and gluons that would later form elementary particles such as protons and neutrons were free to move. 5. Explain the universe’s shortage of antimatter:
the oppositely-charged counterparts of electrons, protons and other particles. The LHCb, another specialized detector at the LHC, is designed to look for imbalances in certain types of decays that could elucidate how the balance of a harmonious early state of the universe came to tilt in the direction of far more matter than antimatter. 6. Generate miniature black holes:
hypothetical incredibly dense states of matter analogous to some of the intense gravitational conditions of the collapsed cores of massive stars. No worries, however; these would decay almost immediately into various particles before presenting even the slimmest chance of harming the Earth. 7. Reveal gateways to higher dimensions:
unseen paths beyond ordinary space and time. Certain theories justify why gravity is so much weaker than the other natural forces by positing that gravity particles leak into an extra dimension that ordinary matter and light cannot penetrate. Investigators at the LHC will search for evidence of such invisible channels. 8. Unify matter and forces through supersymmetry:
a hypothesis asserting that each matter particle has a counterpart in the world of forces, and each force carrier, a companion in the realm of matter. The LHC will search for the least massive superpartners of conventional particles. The verification of supersymmetry would be an extraordinarily important step toward a theory of everything. 9. Predict the ultimate fate of the cosmos:
Recent astronomical discoveries have indicated that space is accelerating in its expansion. The nature of any massive particles found at the LHC could help scientists unravel the properties of this dark energy and thereby determine what will ultimately happen to the universe. 10. Inspire new generations:
to pursue careers in physics and carry on the search for the ultimate theory of nature. The shining example of discoveries at the LHC would illuminate a path for future scientists to follow.
Browse Photos of the Collider (Click on image to enlarge)
A corner of the Proton Synchrotron device with its bending magnets. Built in the late 1950s, it has since been used for a variety of purposes and now serves as an early stage of the injector system to accelerate protons and ions before they reach the main ring of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).
Paul Halpern standing on the grounds of CERN in Switzerland. In the right background is the Globe of Science and Innovation, built in 2002 as a symbol of our planet. In the far left background are the Jura Mountains in France. The 17 mile main ring of the LHC lies deep beneath the verdant countryside between the mountains and CERN.
The Linac (linear accelerator) at CERN is another component of the system for accelerating protons and ions before they reach the main ring of the LHC.
A sample cross-section of a beam pipe through which particles travel.
From Publishers Weekly
Halpern (What's Science Ever Done For Us?), professor of physics and mathematics, makes particle physics accessible in this look at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) "and the extraordinary discoveries likely to be made there." Beginning with the philosophers and scientists who shaped our understanding of the universe over centuries, Halpern explains complex topics and theories concisely, frequently drawing on deft analogies: the "fleeting nature of neutrinos is akin to a featherweight, constantly traveling politician... neutrinos never hang around long enough to make enough of an impact to serve as uniters." After tracing a path from Boyle and Newton through Mendeleev, Maxwell, Rutherford and Einstein, Halpern discusses modern discoveries and details the equipment utilized, from cloud chambers to various kinds of particle accelerators. The bulk of the text focuses on particle physics studies from the past four decades, in the U.S. at Fermilab and the costly but uncompleted Superconducting Super Collider, and in Europe at CERN in Switzerland (responsible for the LHC). Halpern makes the search for mysterious particles pertinent and exciting by explaining clearly what we don't know about the universe, and offering a hopeful outlook for future research.
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