Now physicists from the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) on the Swiss-French border are restarting the accelerator with the aim of understanding more about 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.
Located deep under the Alps, the Large Hadron Collider consists of a ring with a circumference of 27 kilometers (16.7 miles) and is made of superconducting magnets cooled to -271.3°C (-456 F) , which is colder than space. It works by hitting tiny particles together so scientists can observe them and see what’s inside.
“When we do research, we hope we find something unexpected, a surprise. That would be the best result. But the answer, of course, is in nature’s hands, and it depends on how nature opens questions in fundamental physics answers.” Fabiola Gianotti, director general of CERN, said in a video on CERN’s website.
“We are looking for answers to questions related to dark matter, why the Higgs boson is so light and many other open questions.”
Understanding the Higgs boson
Physicists François Englert and Peter Higgs first theorized the existence of the Higgs boson in the 1960s. The Standard Model of physics explains the basics of the interaction of elementary particles and forces in the universe. But the theory couldn’t have explained how particles get their mass. Particles, or bits of matter, vary in size and can be larger or smaller than atoms. For example, electrons, protons and neutrons are the subatomic particles that make up an atom. Scientists now believe that the Higgs boson is the particle that gives all matter its mass.
In the latest round of experiments, CERN scientists will study the properties of matter at extreme temperatures and density, as well as look for explanations for dark matter and for other new phenomena, either by direct searches 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 previously been detected by its ability to create gravitational distortions in space.
“The Higgs boson itself may point to new phenomena, including some that may be responsible for the dark matter in the universe,” said Luca Malgeri, a spokesperson for CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid), one of the four large Large Hadron Colliders. experiments, which is built around a huge electromagnet.