CERN atom smasher sets new record

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The world's biggest atom smasher has set a new world record for beam intensity, a key measure of performance and power, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) said Friday.

On a quest to unlock some of the universe's deepest secrets, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva collided beams with a luminosity exceeding the mark set last year by the US Tevetron accelerator, CERN said.

In particle physics, luminosity affects the number of collisions -- the higher the luminosity, the more particles are likely to collide.

"Beam intensity is key to the success of the LHC, so this is a very important step," said CERN Director General Rolf Heuer.

"High intensity means more data, and more data means greater discovery potential," he said in a statement.

The new record measured a level of luminosity of 467,000 billion billion billion -- 467 followed by 30 zeros -- per square centimetre per second, which corresponds to several million particle collisions per second.

Enhanced power boosts the odds of identifying extremely rare sub-atomic particles, especially the elusive Higgs boson, or 'God particle'.

Earlier experiments have found most of the tiny and ephemeral matter predicted by the so-called Standard Model of particle physics -- except the Higgs boson.

Many scientists believe only the 27-kilometre (16.8-mile), 3.9-billion-euro (5.2-billion-dollar) LHC may be powerful enough to detect it.

The current run of LHC experiments is set to continue through 2012, by which time it should be possible to determine if the Higgs boson truly exists, CERN said.

"There's a lot of excitement at CERN today, and a tangible feeling that we're on the threshold of new discovery," said Serge Bertolucci, CERN's Director for Research and Scientific Computing.

So far, CERN has cranked the cathedral-sized machine up to energy levels of 7.0 trillion electronvolts (TeV), or 3.5 TeV per beam, more than three times the level attained by any other accelerator.

It is aiming to trigger collisions at 14 TeV -- equivalent to 99.99 percent of the speed of light -- in the cryogenically-cooled machine after 2011.

At full throttle, the collisions should create powerful but microscopic bursts of energy that mimic conditions close to the Big Bang.

Even if validated, the Standard Model only accounts for about five percent of energy and matter in the Universe.

Dark matter and dark energy are thought to make up the rest, but have yet to be detected.

© 2011 AFP

1 Comment To This Article

  • Anadish Kumar Pal posted:

    on 27th April 2011, 07:26:11 - Reply

    Can Higgs boson explain momentum, inertia and moment of inertia? Can it explain gyroscopic effect? Can it explain dark matter?

    Well, the discovery of gravity’s exact mechanism along with that of dark matter has already taken place, way back in autumn 2010. I know from my theoretical understanding that it is impossible to find any traces of Higgs boson as a quantum particle in the Hadron collider, neither can it show the existence of dark matter. The details of my discovery of how gravitation exactly works, , and how it is produced in the framework of quantum mechanics are lying in wraps with the USPTO and I can only make it entirely public after there is clarity on how the USPTO is going to settle the issue of secrecy on my application. I consciously did not report to any peer-reviewed journal, fearing discrimination, because of my non-institutional status as a researcher. However, if the USPTO also continues with their non-committal secrecy review under LARS Level 2 (find the PDF of Private PAIR of the USPTO on my site), then, anyway, my discovery may not get published for a long time to come, in spite of me having filed the US patent application (US 13/045,558) on March 11, 2011, after filing a mandatory Indian patent