What's the Latest Development?
If you're a physics fan, springtime means a new season of exciting discoveries from the Large Hadron Collider, the world's most powerful particle accelerator, located beneath the French-Swiss border. "2012 looks set to be a vintage year for particle physics," said Sergio Bertolucci, director of research at the LHC's home lab CERN. Scientists have increased the power levels at which they smash together fundamental particles, "sending them speeding toward each other at energies of 4 teraelectron volts (TeV), creating a collision energy of 8 TeV—a new world record."
What's the Big Idea?
What do the physicists who operate the LHC expect to find this year? Nothing more than the answers to our most puzzling physical questions. Among them are the existence of the Higgs boson as well as particles predicted to exist by a physics theory called supersymmetry. "If supersymmetric particles are discovered, they may offer an explanation for the mystery of dark matter, the invisible stuff thought to make up most of the matter in the universe." Ultimately, the collider will run at 7TeVeach, producing a collision energy of 14 TeV. The power-up will require the machine to shutdown for refurbishment at the end of the year.
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