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Tag archives: LHC

LHCb and CMS see rare decay of the strange B meson

A strange B meson decay event as seen by CMS (Courtesy: CMS)

A strange B meson decay event as seen by CMS. (Courtesy: CERN)

By Hamish Johnston

It’s a story with a hint of both “man bites dog” and “dog bites man” about it.

Physicists working on the CMS and LHCb experiments at CERN have independently seen an incredibly rare decay of a particle – a strange B meson decaying into two muons. The odds of this meson decaying in this particular way is about one in a billion, making the joint discovery a triumph of experimental particle physics. And it is officially a discovery. That’s because when data from the two experiments are combined the observation has a statistical significance of greater than 5σ, which is the gold standard in particle physics.

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Explaining CERN, the Higgs and the LHC

By Matin Durrani

 

How well would you do if someone asked you to explain the Higgs boson or the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN?

If you’re a physicist, you’ll probably find it hard enough. But if you’ve never done any physics in your life, things must surely be trickier still, more so if a film crew from Physics World has shoved a camera up your nose.

These two short videos show the results of a straw poll of randomly selected visitors at last summer’s Bristol International Balloon Fiesta when we asked them to describe the Higgs boson and the LHC.

The reason we were at the fiesta is that we were making a separate film about a project by Bristol University physicist Dave Cussans where school students were measuring cosmic rays during a hot-air balloon flight – it being the centenary of Victor Hess’s discovery of these rays in a balloon flight in central Europe.

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CERN teams up with EUROVISION to inspire the next Peter Higgs

By James Dacey

Illustration of children learning about science

CERN is seeking to inspire tweens in science. (Courtesy: iStockphoto)

I must confess that I was not aware of this partnership, and I must admit it’s not a partnership I would have seen coming. CERN has teamed up with the organization behind the Eurovision Song Contest, in awarding grants to two multimedia companies to develop content that can spark the scientific curiosity of “tweens”.

Okay, let’s back up a second and define a few terms in this equation. Tweens are described by CERN as children aged 8 to 12; not quite teenagers but no longer big babies either. My teacher friends will shoot me down in flames for this cod-pedology but I guess this age group is old enough to be excited by science but not yet old enough to start truly engaging with scientific concepts.

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Magnet matters at the LHC

Hard at work at the LHC (Courtesy: CERN/Samuel Morier-Genoud)

Hard at work at the LHC (Courtesy: CERN/Samuel Morier-Genoud)

By Hamish Johnston

Recently I had the pleasure of speaking to CERN’s Steve Myers who is supervising the herculean task of upgrading the superconducting magnets that guide protons around the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

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The LHC is coming to London

By James Dacey

It may have become a household name in recent years, but for many the Large Hadron Collider is still a mysterious behemoth lurking somewhere beneath Switzerland. Or is it France?

A new exhibition will seek to bring the technology and the sense of scientific discovery of the LHC to those who have not made the trip to the facility itself. Collider: step inside the world’s greatest experiment will open on 13 November at the Science Museum in London, and run for six months.

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What’s new with the ILC?

By Tushna Commissariat

Are you suffering from particle-collider withdrawal symptoms now that the LHC has begun its long shutdown? If so, you will be pleased to learn that you can focus your attention elsewhere.

The International Linear Collider Collaboration has posted an updated version of its 2013 Technical Design Report on the arXiv preprint server. It’s a short and sweet overview of the collider’s design, including “detailed descriptions of the accelerator baseline design for a 500 GeV e+e llinear collider, the R&D program that has demonstrated its feasibility, the physics goals and expected sensitivities, and the description of the ILD and SiD detectors and their capabilities”.

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What do you most hope the LHC will discover after it is switched back on in 2015?

By James Dacey

Photo of CMS detector

Admiring the insides of the CMS detector at CERN.

My colleague, Hamish Johnston, has just returned from a trip to CERN, where he was granted access to the insides of the Large Hadron Colider (LHC), which is currently being upgraded. He has shared some great photos from his trip on the Physics World Facebook page, including some snaps of the interior of the detector experiments.

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CMS in all its glory

Admiring CMS

Admiring CMS.

By Hamish Johnston at CERN

Today I had the immense good fortune of seeing the insides of the CMS detector at CERN.

The huge detector was pulled open and I could see all the various layers that are used to track the vast numbers of particles that are produced when protons collide at the Large Hadron Collider.

Unlike earlier photos of the detector that were taken when it was being built, the beamline is still intact as it passes through the CMS – a plain black conduit suspended many metres above the floor. You can see the beamline poking out from the centre of the detector in the photo on the right.

Imperial College’s Jim Virdee was our tour guide, and he told us how several military technologies from the former Soviet Union have been put to good use in the detector. These include brass shell casings that were melted down to make components for the detector.

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Spot-on the Standard Model

By Hamish Johnston

“Beyond any reasonable doubt, it is a Higgs boson, and here we examine the extent to which its couplings resemble those of the single Higgs boson of the Standard Model.”

That’s taken from the abstract of a new paper by John Ellis and Tevong You of King’s College London. Ellis, of course, has been associated with CERN for decades and if he says it’s a Higgs that’s good enough for me!

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It’s official, it’s a Higgs

By Hamish Johnston

It seems like only yesterday that the particle-physics blogosphere was on fire with rumours, speculation and even a bit of real information about the hunt for Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

How things have changed since a Higgs-like particle was identified in July last year. Since then, further analysis has revealed that the particle is even more Higgs-like – and today CERN has officially said that the particle is “a Higgs boson”.

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