What does it mean to know something? As the experiments at Cern continue to show, it means testing a theory to destruction
Two beams of protons circulate around the 27km circumference of the Large Hadron Collider tunnel under the Franco-Swiss border. Those protons moving clockwise collide, head on, with those moving anticlockwise and the collisions take place in the middle of cavernous detectors. The scientists working on two of these detectors have made it their immediate priority to find the much vaunted Higgs particle and, towards the end of last year, the first, tentative, evidence of the particle’s existence was made public. Next month, at an international conference in Australia, we can expect to hear the latest news on the hunt. The burning question is whether, with more data, the experimental evidence will strengthen or weaken. So what is the evidence and why do we need to keep waiting on tenterhooks?
When two protons crash into each other they break up, producing hundreds more particles that spray out in all directions, like an exploding firework. The huge detectors are designed to capture the debris and provide a snapshot of the collision…..
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