Nav: Home

Syracuse physicists help restart Large Hadron Collider

May 23, 2016

Physicists at Syracuse Univesity are participating in the restart of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world's largest, most powerful particle accelerator.

The High-Energy Experimental Physics Group, led by Distinguished Professor Sheldon Stone, has been splitting time between Syracuse and CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. Home to the LHC, CERN is the highest energy particle physics and accelerator laboratory in existence.

After months of winter hibernation, the LHC has resumed smashing beams of protons together, in attempt to recreate conditions of the first millionth of a second of the universe, some 13.9 billion years ago.

"The faster the beams, the more energy they generate on impact--energy that is sometimes converted into heavy particles not usually produced by nature," Stone says. "The debris from these collisions tells us a lot about the building blocks of matter and the forces controlling them."

Syracuse is the U.S. host university for CERN's Large Hadron Collider beauty (LHCb) experiment, involving more than 800 scientists from 16 countries. In this capacity, Stone and his colleagues are assisting with the development of detector technology for future upgrades of the LHC and its experiments.

Across the Atlantic, the LHC is working around the clock for the next six months. The machine is expected to generate approximately 2 quadrillion high-quality proton collisions--six times more than in 2015 and almost as many as during its first three years of operation from 2009 to 2012.

Whereas 2015 was a recommissioning year for the LHC, 2016 should witness the delivery of the maximum amount of data to the LHCb and other CERN experiments, all of which are redefining physics beyond the Standard Model.

"Most experiments discover particles by directly producing them and measuring their byproducts," Stone says. "LHCb relies on precision measurements of rare processes, and compares how closely the theoretical predictions match the experimental results."

The LHC produces subatomic fireballs of energy, which morph into the fundamental building blocks of matter. The four particle detectors located on the LHC's ring at CERN enable scientists to record and study the properties of these building blocks and to look for new particles and forces.

"The LHC accelerates protons through an enormous vacuum system, 17 miles in circumference. The protons are guided by powerful superconducting electromagnets that, in turn, are cooled by liquid helium," Stone says. "Particles normally travel in straight lines, but the magnetic field causes them to curve. By examining the curvature [of the charged particle], we can calculate the particle's momentum and, along with the other detection elements, establish its identity."

Between 2010-13, the LHC produced collisions in which each proton had eight tera-electron volts (TeV, or trillion electron volts) of energy. In 2015, after a two-year shutdown, the collision energy climbed to 13 TeV. "This increase in energy enables us to explore a new realm of physics that previously has been inaccessible," Stone says.

CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) circulates beams of protons at the speed of light, before smashing them together. Scientists study the resultant debris for clues about the origins of the universe.

The LHC came into public view in 2012, when scientists proved the existence of the Higgs boson, the so-called "God particle," which is 100 times more massive than the proton and can transmit forces. (Until then, the Higgs boson was the only fundamental particle predicted by the Standard Model that had not been observed.) Since then, Team Syracuse has helped advance the field of "new physics" with its discoveries, including two never-before-seen five-quark particles.

"So far, the Standard Model seems to explain matter, but we know there has to be something beyond the Standard Model," says Denise Caldwell, physics director of the National Science Foundation. "This potential 'new physics' can be uncovered only with more data [from the current] LHC run."

Among the unsolved problems of physics, which scientists hope the LHC can answer, involve the existence of gravity and dark matter (a type of matter that interacts with the visible universe through gravity) and why matter prevailed over antimatter during the formation of the early universe.

"The new LHC data will help us verify the Standard Model's predictions, while exposing new theoretical subatomic processes," says Stone, adding that an enormous amount of data, stemming from billions of collisions, is needed to measure well-known Standard Model processes. "Any significant deviations could be the first step toward 'new physics.'"

Syracuse University

Related Higgs Boson Articles:

Cosmic inflation: Higgs says goodbye to his 'little brother'
In the first moments after the Big Bang, the Universe was able to expand even billions of billions of billions of times faster than today.
Legacy of brilliant young scientist is a major leap in quantum computing
Researchers from the University of Bristol and Université Libre de Bruxelles have theoretically shown how to write programs for random circuitry in quantum computers.
A quark like no other
A University of Iowa physicist is at the forefront of the search to confirm the existence of a particle believed to give mass to all matter.
Physicists awarded funding to enhance our understanding of the universe
Theoretical physicists from the University of Plymouth have been awarded a Consolidated Grant from the Science and Technology Facilities Council to enhance our understanding of the world and the universe that surrounds us.
Physicists at Mainz University construct prototype for new component of the ATLAS detector
One of the largest projects being undertaken at the CERN research center near Geneva -- the ATLAS Experiment -- is about to be upgraded.
A fundamental theory of mass generation
A team of four theoretical physicists, Francesco Sannino from Cp3-Origins at the University of Southern Denmark, Alessandro Strumia from CERN theory division and Pisa Univ., Andrea Tesi from the Enrico Fermi Institute at the University of Chicago in US, and Elena Vigiani from Pisa University have recently published in the Journal of High Energy Physics their work
'Higgs hunter' Sally Dawson receives J.J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics
Sally Dawson, a theoretical physicist at the US Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory, has been named a recipient of the 2017 J.J.
The Higgs Bison -- mystery species hidden in cave art
Ancient DNA research has revealed that Ice Age cave artists recorded a previously unknown hybrid species of bison and cattle in great detail on cave walls more than 15,000 years ago.
Wits University scientists predict the existence of a new boson
Using data from a series of experiments that led to the discovery and first exploration of the Higgs boson at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in 2012, scientists at the High Energy Physics Group of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg predict the existence of a new boson that might aid in the understanding of dark matter in the universe.
Zika virus research at Biosecurity Research Institute aims to control, fight mosquitoes
Kansas State University is helping the fight against Zika virus through mosquito research at the Biosecurity Research Institute.

Related Higgs Boson Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#529 Do You Really Want to Find Out Who's Your Daddy?
At least some of you by now have probably spit into a tube and mailed it off to find out who your closest relatives are, where you might be from, and what terrible diseases might await you. But what exactly did you find out? And what did you give away? In this live panel at Awesome Con we bring in science writer Tina Saey to talk about all her DNA testing, and bioethicist Debra Mathews, to determine whether Tina should have done it at all. Related links: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you Crime solvers embraced...