Tag Archives: higgs

Higgs Englert

2013 Nobel prize in physics awarded to ‘God particle’ scientists: Peter Higgs and Francois Englert

Higgs Englert

Francois Englert (left) and Peter Higgs (right)

Just a few moments ago, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics to Francois Englert and Peter Higgs on Tuesday for their 1964 postulation of the existence of the Higgs boson. The elementary particle was finally confirmed in 2012 by a team of international researchers using the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

The July 2012 discovery of the particle in the most powerful particle accelerator in the world, the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, Switzerland, has been billed as one of the biggest scientific achievements of the last 50 years. The Higgs boson, also sometimes referred to as the God particle, is thought to be the elementary particle responsible for granting all matter with mass. It’s become obvious now how monumental this discovery is.

But why not last year? In 2012 everybody was expecting Englert and Higgs to win the physics prize, but instead the award went to two scientists (Haroche and Wineland ) for their work with light and matter, which may lead the way to superfast quantum computing and the most precise clocks ever seen. The  Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences often steers away from scientific premiers and chooses to opt for more mature research. This year, however, it was clear than Englert and Higgs shouldn’t be missed.

Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel created the prizes in 1895 to honor work in physics, chemistry, literature and peace. Since 1901, the committee has handed out the Nobel Prize in physics 106 times. The youngest recipient was Lawrence Bragg, who won in 1915 at the age of 25. For the 2013 awards, so far the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been announced: James E Rothman, Randy W Schekman and Thomas C Südhof  for their work on the mechanism that controls the transport of membrane-bound parcels or ‘vesicles’ through cells.

LHC – we have a collision !

“It’s a great day to be a particle physicist,” said CERN director general Rolf Heuer. “A lot of people have waited a long time for this moment.”

lhc-30-march

The LHC had been going on a promising streak for quite a while now; however, the encountered problems (mostly engineering, but also physics) were huge. Imagine firing arrows on the face of the ocean and making them collide – that was the task for the engineers and physicists at CERN.

They did achieve collisions before, but this is the first one to reach a significant energy, 7 Tev (teraelectronvolts, which is pretty much 1.6 x 10^-7 Joules; doesn’t sound like much, unless you’re a particle). The previous record was at about 2.36 TeV.

Achieving a collision of this level marks the official start of the LHC programme and the next 18 to 24 months are expected to produce trillions of high-energy collisions. So what does this mean ? If they don’t find the Higgs boson, does that mean we’ll have to rewrite physics ? Probably not. It will just show us which of the current competing theories is right. But what happens if they are all wrong ? Well… for the time being, let’s just hope that won’t happen and wait for the current updates from Cern.

You can watch a live webcast from the LHC , twitter updates or track their status in graphical form. Either way, this collision marks the beginning of a new era in modern physics.

Oh, PS : the world is still here.

Dark matter discovered, or at least rumor has it

Well, rumors and science never go well together, especially when it goes to something as important as the work going on at LHC, who just got back in business a short while ago.

Dark matter map

Dark matter map

My first reaction was to believe it was just a rumor. However, after hearing and reading many articles on this I still find it hard to believe. However, what really made me think was that everybody was going on and saying how this find would bring a major change in our understanding of the Universe. I think it wouldn’t; let me explain.

First of all, I don’t know if they discovered dark matter or not yet. I’m waiting for the official announcement as much as the next guy. It would be indeed a major breakthrough, but it wouldn’t change our understanding, it would just confirm it. Researchers have long theorized that dark matter exists and that it is responsible for about 90% of the Universe’s mass. They can’t see it, but deducted it exists because of the gravitational forces. So basically, a lot of our understanding of the Universe relies on the fact that dark matter exists.

The big change would be if they recreated the right conditions and didn’t find it! It would be so significant, that basically we’d have to rethink modern physics. Same goes for the Higgs boson. I mean, with current knowledge, scientists have been able to demonstrate that these particles exist; if they are indeed found, we’re right, we can move on to finding more things, hurray. But if they’re not… things really get messy.

So, what do you think the LHC will bring? Will it break once again, shed light on everything it can, destroy the world, what? Tell everybody on the Facebook page

CERN is back in business with the first collisions

lhc

The researchers and engineers operating the Large Hadron Collider have smashed together for the first time protons, in what is considered a huge step forward by pretty much everybody working at the huge physics experiment.

The particles were accelerated on Monday, through the LHC’s 27 km and then ‘drove’ into each other, in an attempt to recreate the conditions that took place a few moments after the Big Bang. This attempt is crucial for our understanding of physics, and here’s why.

Researchers are trying to find signs of what has been called the Higgs boson. This subatomic particle lies at the foundation of our understanding of particle physics, but despite the fact that it’s so important, we have yet to actually discover it. It’s expected that the LHC will provide the sought after particle and confirm our current theories. However, if not, we may be forced to rethink pretty much all of our particle physics.

The people operating this amazing particle accelerator seem quite ecstatic, as you can see below.

cern

“It’s a great achievement to have come this far in so short a time,” said Cern’s director-general Rolf Heuer. But we need to keep a sense of perspective – there’s still much to do before we can start the LHC physics programme.”

Fabiola Gianotti, spokesperson for the Atlas scientific team, commented: “This is great news, the start of a fantastic era of physics and hopefully discoveries after 20 years’ work by the international community.”

We’ll keep you posted with what’s going on at the LHC, and we’re pretty psyched to see how things are going. There’s definitely more to come.