Ten years ago, scientists were able to detect the Higgs Boson particle and help understand our universe using the Large Hadron Collider. They did it again in 2018 and unlocked new insights about protons.
Now, with a new array of questions, they plan to restart the particle accelerator this month to possibly better understand cosmic unknown things like dark matter.
“This is a particle that has answered some questions for us and given many others,” says Dr. Sarah Demers, professor of physics at Yale University, for NPR.
The Higgs Boson particle was first observed when researchers at the European Center for Nuclear Research, or CERN, spun and crashed particles near the speed of light. They did this by using the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator – the Large Hadron Collider.
Since 1964, physicists have theorized that this particle existed, but it took nearly 50 years to find evidence.
Scientists believe that the Higgs field was formed one-tenth of a billionth of a second after the Big Bang, and without it, stars, planets and life would not have arisen.
The evidence for Higgs Boson’s existence was an important milestone in fundamental physics, and Dr. François Englert and Dr. Peter Higgs won a Nobel Prize in Physics. Despite the scientific achievement, the work of understanding how the universe works is far from over.
The collider completed another experimental run in 2018 that provided new insight into the structures of the protons and how the Higgs boson decays.
And after more than three years of maintenance and upgrades, the collider will start again on Tuesday – this time tripling the data, maintaining intense beams for longer and generally enabling more investigations.
“There has to be more out there because we can not explain so many of the things that are around us,” said Demers, who is also at CERN and working on the third race. “Something really big is missing, and in fact we’re talking about 96 percent of the universe really big.”
What Demers refers to is dark matter, which is invisible matter that is thought to exist from observations of the cosmos, and dark energy, which nourishes the accelerating expansion of the universe. She hopes the upcoming run will provide insight into the elusive but overwhelming majority of our cosmos.
In a press release, CERN wrote: “Finding the answers to these and other intriguing questions will not only advance our understanding of the universe at the smallest scale, but may also help unlock some of the greatest mysteries of the universe as a whole, as f “such as how it came to be as it is and what its ultimate destiny may be.”
The third run is expected to continue for the next four years, and researchers are already starting work on run 4, which is scheduled to begin in 2030.