Is That It?

by Nicholas Mee on May 31, 2012

Last week physicists met in Pittsburg to assess the progress being made in probing the secrets of fundamental physics at The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN on the Swiss/French border.

Top of the list of what might turn up in the LHC is, of course, the Higgs boson. The existence of the Higgs has still not officially been confirmed, but the two main detectors at the LHC, known as ATLAS and CMS, have both reported a possible detection at almost the same energy (in the region of 125 GeV, which is around 132 times the mass of a proton).

This year’s run of the LHC will produce about ten times the data that was produced in all previous runs of the machine (that’s enough to fill a 10 kilometre high stack of CD disks, without cases). They must have very long bookshelves in Switzerland.

As a result this information is expected to definitively settle the case for the existence of the Higgs boson.

What Next?

So what next? Well, another target for the LHC is the origin of dark matter. This would explain the embarrassing fact that most of the universe appears to be missing. Astronomers estimate that up to 90% of the universe is composed of an unknown substance that cannot be seen because it does not emit light.

Objects made from ordinary matter, such as planets, black holes and dead stars have been ruled out, so the expectation is that dark matter is composed of vast quantities of an unknown relic particle that was produced immediately after the Big Bang.

Physicists are on the lookout for a new particle that might fit the bill. In parallel with the LHC, the search is being carried out in cosmic ray detectors that are looking for the rare interactions of these elusive particles as they pass through the Earth.

More information about this matters is available in the following article:

http://arstechnica.com/science/2012/05/the-state-of-particle-physics-a-report-from-pheno-2012/

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