Scientists have announced the observation of “CP violation in a D0 meson” at CERN, a discovery that will appear in physics textbooks for years to come. You’re probably wondering what exactly it means.
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You can feasibly put anything inside the world’s largest physics experiment, CERN’s Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, so long as it can be vaporised. You could even stick a sandwich in there. But for the first time, scientists have accelerated an atomic nucleus with electrons still attached.
Scientists can’t take pictures of the Higgs boson. But they can find proof of its existence by watching “E=mc2” play out in hundreds of millions of particle collisions per second and detecting how it decays into other particles they do know how to spot.
Now, six years after officially discovering the Higgs boson, particle physicists are announcing that they’ve spotted the Higgs in another way.
It appears that the universe is full of dark matter - around six times more of it than there is regular matter. It has obvious visible effects, such as the way it bends light from distant galaxies. Despite dedicated searches, no signs of a dark matter particle explaining these effects have turned up.
Particle accelerators have a lot of important jobs, such as looking for new stuff by slamming beams of old stuff together. But a new particle accelerator observation has managed to be important while doing almost precisely the opposite of what we'd expect. Physicists have found evidence for hard-to-detect stuff by, well, not slamming particles together.
Four British schoolboys had just been called from class. They were 10 days away from their A-level exams, the ones that determine the direction the rest of their lives would take, but they'd been interrupted from their studies to discuss the deepest secrets of the universe -- their work hunting for the magnetic monopole at the Large Hadron Collider.
After receiving a few upgrades, including a power boost and better cameras, CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is once again ready for business and will soon start providing scientists with glorious, glorious particle data for "the first time in 2017".
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND -- Hiding in the suburbs behind trees and a meadow with furry brown donkeys is a warehouse with an elevator that only visits negative floors. Hundreds of feet down, hyper complex detectors inside an octagonal tube the colour and size of a large barn whistle loudly and peer like cameras at protons, the positively charged bits at the center of every atom. Those cameras may have just produced an exotic phase of matter in a brand new way. Maybe.
Conceptually, particle physics experiments are surprisingly simple. Smash a buttload of particles together, and look at what comes out. The results will either confirm whatever the business-as-usual theory is, or, if there's a really crystal clear deviation from that theory, they might prove some new hypothesis about some new particles. But the middle ground, where the difference between what we know and what we see is still fuzzy, is where a lot of results live.