Now physicists from the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) on the Franco-Swiss border are restarting the collider with the aim of better understanding the Higgs boson, other subatomic particles and the mysteries of dark matter – an invisible and elusive substance that cannot be seen because it does not absorb, reflect or emit light.
Made up of a ring 27 kilometers (16.7 miles) in circumference, the Large Hadron Collider – located deep under the Alps – is made of superconducting magnets cooled to -271.3 ° C (-456 F), this which is colder than outer space. It works by smashing tiny particles together to allow scientists to observe them and see what’s inside.
“When we do research, we hope to find something unexpected, a surprise. That would be the best result. But of course the answer is in the hands of nature, and it depends on how nature responds to the open questions of fundamental physics,” he added. said Fabiola Gianotti, Director General of CERN, in a video posted on the CERN website.
“We seek answers to questions related to dark matter, why the Higgs boson is so light, and many other open questions.”
Understanding the Higgs boson
Physicists Francois Englert and Peter Higgs first theorized the existence of the Higgs boson in the 1960s. The Standard Model of Physics lays out the basics of how elementary particles and forces interact in the universe. But the theory had failed to explain how the particles actually get their mass. Particles, or pieces of matter, vary in size and can be larger or smaller than atoms. Electrons, protons, and neutrons, for example, are the subatomic particles that make up an atom. The scientists now believe that the Higgs boson is the particle that gives all matter its mass.
In the latest series of experiments, CERN scientists will study the properties of matter under extreme temperatures and densities, and also look for explanations dark matter and other new phenomena, either by direct research or – indirectly – by precise measurements of the properties of known particles.
Dark matter is thought to make up most of the matter in the universe and has already been detected by its ability to create gravitational distortions in outer space.
“The Higgs boson itself could point to new phenomena, some of which may be responsible for dark matter in the universe,” said Luca Malgeri, spokesperson for CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid), one of four large experiments of the Large Hadron Collider. which is built around a huge electromagnet.