May 24, 2011

CERN Collider Hits New Record

A senior physicist said on Monday that the CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) set a new record in its quest to pinpoint the elusive particle known as the Higgs Boson.

"Last night, a symbolic frontier was crossed," said Michel Spiro, president of the board of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), according to the AFP news agency.

The rate of sub-atomic collisions at the world's biggest particle collider has multiplied 10-fold in the last month.

The 16.9-mile tunnel is designed to accelerate beams of protons to nearly the speed of light in contra-rotating directions.

The beams are then directed into labs where some of the protons collide while others escape.

Detectors record the sub-atomic debris, hoping to find traces of particles that can strengthen fundamental understanding of physics.

The LHC set a record of 10 million collisions per second a month ago.

"This is now 100 million collisions per second," Spiro said at a conference in Paris on the "infinitely small and the infinitely big."

Physicists are using the LHC to help them find the Higgs Boson, or "God particle", as well as solve other puzzles.

If the God particle was found it would explain the nature of mass, filling a major piece of the theoretical construct of physics known as the Standard Model.

CERN physicists said in London last week that they believed by the end of 2012 they could determine once and for all whether the Higgs existed or not.

Spiro said this search would certainly be helped by the stepped-up pace of collision, which is the equivalent to sifting more earth in search of nuggets of gold.

"If we're lucky, and it (the Higgs) is in the right zone for expected mass, we may be able to find it this summer," he said in a statement. "On the other hand, ruling it out will take us to the end of next year."

He said to provide a confirmation would require notching up "at least 15" detections.


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