The world’s biggest particle collider set a new record early Monday, a feat that should accelerate the quest to pinpoint the elusive particle known as the Higgs Boson, a senior physicist said.
“Last night, a symbolic frontier was crossed,” said Michel Spiro, president of the board of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), explaining that the rate of sub-atomic smashups in its vast machine had multiplied 10-fold in the space of a month.
CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is housed in a 27-kilometre (16.9-mile) ring-shaped tunnel 100 metres (325 feet) below ground, straddling the French-Swiss border. It is designed to accelerate beams of protons to nearly the speed of light in contra-rotating directions. Then, using magnets, the beams are then directed into labs where some of the protons collide while others escape. Detectors record the seething sub-atomic debris, hoping to find traces of particles that can strengthen fundamental understanding of physics.
A month ago, the LHC set a record of 10 million collisions per second.
The director general of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Rolf-Dieter Heuer, speaks to journalists in May 2011. CERN runs the world’s biggest particle collider, located on the outskirts of Geneva. It set a new record, a feat that should accelerate the quest to pinpoint the elusive particle known as the Higgs Boson, a senior physicist said.
“This is now 100 million collisions per second,” Spiro said at a conference in Paris on the “infinitely small and the infinitely big.”
Among the puzzles that physicists are seeking to answer is the existence of the Higgs, which has been dubbed “the God particle” for being mysterious yet ubiquitous. If found, it would explain the nature of mass, filling a major piece of the theoretical construct of physics known as the Standard Model.