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Tag archives: Standard Model

Is desperation for new physics clouding our vision for new colliders?

By Hamish Johnston

This month marks the 60th anniversary of CERN and to kick-off our coverage here at, I’m highlighting an essay on the future of collider physics that has just been written by Nobel laureate Burton Richter called “High energy colliding beams; what is their future?“.

Burton Richter

Burton Richter warns against desperation. (Courtesy: Stanford University)

Richter shared his 1976 Nobel prize with Samuel Ting for their independent discoveries of the J/ψ meson. He knows his particle colliders, having helped to design and build the world’s first collider in the late 1950s at Stanford University and later directing the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center for 15 years.

Richter believes that the international community is not facing up to tough decisions that must be made about what to do when the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is retired sometime in the early 2030s. He thinks that “the perspective of one of the old guys might be useful”.

Planning the next huge collider involves the co-operation of three main groups of physicists: those who design and build the accelerators; those who design and build the experiments; and the theoretical physicists who work out what the experiments are looking for. Richter thinks that this is not going well at the moment.


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Looking beyond the Standard Model in Liverpool

Liverpool physicist John Fry (right) gets ready for his close-up

Liverpool physicist John Fry (right) gets ready for his close-up.

By Hamish Johnston

Earlier this week the Physics World film crew was on Merseyside to document some of the exciting physics done in Liverpool and its environs. Our first stop was a meeting of the NA62 collaboration at the University of Liverpool that was organized by the particle physicist John Fry (above right with our cameraman David Hart).

The finishing touches are currently being put on the NA62 experiment, which will start up at CERN in Geneva next year. The international collaboration running the experiment will focus on making precise measurements of the decay of a charged kaon to a pion and two neutrinos. If all goes to plan, NA62 could find that the decay is not completely described by the Standard Model of particle physics, which could point towards new and exciting physics.


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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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GERDA puts new limit on neutrinoless double beta decay

The GERDA experiment at Gran Sasso (Courtesy: INFN)

The GERDA experiment at Gran Sasso. (Courtesy: INFN)

By Hamish Johnston

This stylish chap is looking for an incredibly rare nuclear process called neutrinoless double beta decay. The picture was taken deep under a mountain at Italy’s Gran Sasso National Laboratory, which is about 160 km north-west of Rome. He is standing in a cavern containing the GERDA experiment, which has been searching for the rare decay since 2011.

GERDA hasn’t actually detected a decay event, but the collaboration claims to have measured the best value yet of the lower limit on its half-life in germanium-76. They researchers say that it’s about 2.1 × 1025 years – or 21 yottayears!


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The race to find the electric dipole moment

The University of Montreal actually has an ivory tower!

Congress HQ: the University of Montreal actually has an ivory tower!

By Hamish Johnston at the 2013 CAP Congress in Montreal

Yesterday I had lunch with Jeff Martin of the University of Winnipeg, who is a member of an international team that aims to measure the electric dipole moment (EDM) of the neutron at TRIUMF in Vancouver.


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Quantum landscaping

Artist’s impression of a map of the Quantum Universe (Graphic courtesy of “ILC — form one visual communication”)

By Tushna Commissariat

Here’s a bit of Friday physics fun… I came across this rather interesting image that shows an artist’s impression of a map entitled “The Quantum Universe”. It includes six landmasses all floating in the Big Bang Ocean; including Dark Matter Landmass, Sypersymmetry Reef, Higgs Island and the Land of Ultimate Unification as well as others.

So go ahead and tell us which island you would like to settle down on. Be sure to look carefully at gems like Newton’s Lawn and Mount Einstein before you make your mind up!

To see a larger hi-res image follow this link.

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