Posts from the ‘particle physics’ Category
The Super Kamiokande (Kamioka Neutrino Detection Experiment) is a neutrino observatory located under Mount Kamioka in Japan. It is designed to observe solar and atmospheric neutrinos, neutrinos from supernovae, and aims to search for proton decay. It is a cylindrical structure measuring about 40 m tall and 40 m across, is covered in over 11,000 photomultiplier tubes (PMTs), and filled with 50,000 tons of pure water.
Neutrinos weakly interact with other particles, making it extremely difficult to detect them and observe their properties; in fact, they cannot be directed detected at all. Detectors are built underground to isolate it from other radiation. When a neutrino passes through the Super-K’s water tank, it will sometimes (hopefully) collide with a quark, causing it to change into a charged lepton (electron, muon, or tau). The very short version of what happens next is that the lepton will travel faster than the speed of light in water (not in vacuum), polarizing the water molecules; when they return to their ground state, Cherenkov radiation is emitted in a flash of light, which the PMTs detect. The last image is of a Cherenkov ring by an electron created from a neutrino collision in the Super-K, in perspective view.
The Higgs boson has long been thought the key to resolving the mystery of the origin of mass. If physicists confirm that the Higgs boson exists, the discovery would also confirm that the Higgs mechanism for particles to acquire mass is correct. And, it may offer clues to the next mystery down the line, which is why individual particles have the masses that they do.
The Standard Model is the reigning theory of particle physics that describes the universe’s very small constituents.
Every particle predicted by the Standard Model has been discovered — except one: the Higgs boson.
Discovering the Higgs boson would also help explain how two of the fundamental forces of the universe — the electromagnetic force that governs interactions between charged particles, and the weak force that’s responsible for radioactive decay — can be unified.
Another theory that would be affected by the discovery of the Higgs is called supersymmetry. This idea posits that every known particle has a “superpartner” particle with slightly different characteristics.
The Large Hadron Collider is the world’s largest particle accelerator. It was built for around $10 billion by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) to probe higher energies than had ever been reached on Earth. Finding the Higgs boson was touted as one of the machine’s biggest goals.
Can’t wait for this announcement, and the possibilities it brings with it. The specific results of the experiments themselves should be quite interesting.