LHC eyes mystery particle

2011-02-02 07:31

Geneva - Physicists seeking to prove that many ideas from science fiction are really fact are confident they can track a mystery particle that makes the universe work by the end of 2012, their chief said on Tuesday.

Rolf Heuer, director-general of the Cern research centre near Geneva, said the conviction that the so-called Higgs boson is within reach had led to a decision to extend the current run of its "Big Bang" simulator for an extra year.

"Running through 2012 will give us the data needed to turn hints into a discovery," said Heuer in an interview with the centre's weekly Bulletin.

He said proof could also be found of super-symmetry, dubbed Susy by physicists, linked to the dark matter thought to make up 23% of the cosmos - of which only 4% is actually visible - may also be tracked down.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) - the world's biggest scientific machine that has been probing the origins of the universe since last March 31 - was originally due to have been closed down for 12 months at the end of this year.


But at a mountain retreat in the French Alps last weekend, key researchers and engineers agreed its performance had been so good and it was producing so much information that shutting down so soon would be a mistake.

"With the LHC running so well in 2010, and further improvements in performance expected to come, there is a real chance that exciting new physics may be within our grasp by the end of the (2011) year," said Heuer.

If nature is kind to the Cern researchers, he added, the Higgs boson - believed to be the agent which turned mass into solid matter soon after the Big Bang that created the universe 13.7 billion years ago - could be showing itself.

By the end of 2012, if current success in studying the billions of speed-of-light particle collisions produced in the LHC is maintained, solid proof of its existence should be found, said Heuer.

The only other machine in the world searching for the boson is the Tevatron at Fermilab near Chicago in the US. But the less-powerful Tevatron is due to be shut down permanently later this year.

That will leave the LHC at the 21-nation Cern - formally the European Centre for Nuclear Research but soon to open up to other countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America - as the world's only major collider.

New plans

Under the new plans, the machine housed in a circular tunnel under the French-Swiss border near the Jura mountains will close for a year in 2013, allowing technicians to adapt it for much higher particle collision speeds.

In the latter part of the decade, Heuer and his scientists hope they will be able to prove the existence of not only dark or invisible matter but also the dark energy thought to make up about 73% of the universe.

They may also study notions such as the existence of other dimensions beyond the four known ones - length, breadth, depth and time - as well as parallel universes and even time travel.

  • pop101 - 2011-02-02 08:32

    It's all good and well, but I can't help to feel scared when they start playing around with little particles in the universe. Big Bada Boem Bada Bang. Guess I'm just not like those explorers that left shores ages ago.

      Clive.D.Buckley - 2011-02-02 09:46

      What have you got to be afraid of? Particle collisions happen in the natural world anyway, all they are doing, is recreating them in a controlled environment so they can study the effects... besides from that, they have been doing this for years in other colliders (such as the Tevatron) and have now been doing this for nearly a year in the LHC

      thabiso.marumo - 2011-02-02 10:21

      Why don't this guy just shut up keep thier experiment to themselve because every time they come out to make a comment they give us nothing, no new infor, no details on what have been found, no detail on what happens after the collition, what new particles are formed, no new energy source, nothing, I get a feeling someone is putting them under pressure to answer for all those Billions waisted to satify their curiosity, after the number of collions they conducted they found they couldn't prove their claims and theory and are now extending the experiement in hope that one day they will find proof to their theories by looking into the same collutions over and over and over again, it's like looking into the same desert for years hoping to find an oasis.

      theDriver - 2011-02-02 10:37

      @ thabiso > It's safe to conclude that you have not been following the happenings at CERN?, if you have been then you would kmow that lead atoms were smashed and the info we got was that early universe was super hot liquid?, rest assured no billions were "waisted" (or you meant wasted?. Who should shut up now?

      thabiso.marumo - 2011-02-02 11:16

      @theDriver or gramma police they should shut up untill they come out with something usefull and concrede we don't care about their theories, any explosion will make whatever substance in contact hot that common knowladge, for now they are just wasting Billions on theories which they still can't prove.

  • cyberax - 2011-02-02 11:34

    Awesome stuff happening in the LHC - I can't wait to see what the future holds within this field of research.

  • ocon777 - 2011-02-02 11:48

    hahahahahahahaha. they will NEVER recreate the big bang this way. maybe a small minuscule part of it but never a micro replica of the "Actual" big bang. "if nature is kind to the Cern researchers" What kind of scientific answer is that? Look it will marginally increase our current understanding, but we are millenia away from recreating the "Big Bang"

  • neilwvr - 2011-02-02 12:47

    People, people people... 99% of what we own today was created by some "STUPID" theory, Some "IDIOT" that was wasting his own money and time. Some Scientist that "THOUGHT" he could put fire in a glass and switch it on and off as he pleased without cracking stones together... We are still finding thousands of NEW species daily, and that's just on Earth... Give Science time... Lets see hat happens.

      buzz - 2011-02-02 15:09

      Thanks Neil - I was going to reply similarly to thabiso, but really just felt the effort would be wasted (sorry, waisted) - thanks for doing that and saving me some trouble

  • FatPenguin - 2011-02-02 14:41

    News about something big and news about something small. Puts me in mind of that apod video from the other day:

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