Particle Physics

13th August 2013

Public to help uncover fundamental property of Antimatter

Have you ever seen the movie Angels and Demons? The movie begins with the theft of a material from CERN a vial of antimatter. This substance is a valid part of nature, antimatter has a lot of the same properties that their matter counterparts do. These include mass and the magnitude of their charge and spin. However antimatter differs in the charge and spin as they are opposite. An example of this is a positron (e+) is the antimatter partner of the electron (e-).

The public are soon to be able to have their hand in a experiment at CERN which is hoping to open a new fundamental difference between matter and antimatter. The AEGIS experiment is preparing to collide antihydrogen atoms at ordinary matter to produce an annihilation and a shower of different particles. These particles will travel through a fluid chamber which shows their tracks. These tracks will be analysed by scientist and public to determine whether antimatter has the same gravitational effect as matter.

The public will be involved in watching short animations and trace over any straight line which could be a particle track. The scientists behind the experiment then use these human obtained tracks to improve their algorithmic software.

The implication of a difference in gravitational effect between the two would be great indeed. Most theories assume that the effects are the same as their matter counterparts. However if it was found that this was incorrect and there exists an intrinsic anisotropy then perhaps we will be a step closer to answering the greater questions such as; Why is the universe  dominated by matter if their existed both at the big bang? and What is dark energy?


12th September 2012

Higgs Boson confirmed and peer-reviewed

The long sought after Higgs Boson which is responsible for mass, a fundamental property of all particles, has today been official confirmed with an appearance in the peer-reviewed journal Physics Letters B. This concludes a search undertaken by experimental and theoretical particle physicists since Peter Higgs prediction of the bosons existence in the 1960’s.

It is the last puzzle piece in the standard model of particle physics which has successfully predicted all the particles known to exist today, 6 quarks, 6 leptons, their antimatter twins and a number of force carrying bosons. The Higgs Boson which was preliminarily announced to have been found back on July 31st 2012 is said to propagate through a field called the Higgs field. When massless particles move through this Higgs field the bosons cause what can be analogous to friction upon the particles, this gives the particles a potential energy and by Einstein’s world famous equation (e=mc^2), mass.

Although this could seem like the end of a long road  it could be just the beginning, it has long been known that the standard model could no longer be complete. Dark Matter which is believed to make up 84% of all conventional matter in the universe has yet to be directly observed, although the indirect observations can be seen in gravitational lensing and galaxies radial velocity curves, if this were to be found as a particle then the standard model may have to be replaced by a more complete theory.


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