The ALICE experiment

Ever wonder what exactly goes on inside the Large Hadron Collider? Sure, it studies the physics of the universe at a very small scale, but what kind of detectors does it boast, and what are they trying to detect?

Well, one detector is called ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment—give the person who named it an award, please). Located in St Genis-Pouilly, France, it’s basically a heavy-ion detector, designed study how strongly interacting matter behaves at extreme energy densities. In this kind of situation, a weird phase of matter called quark-gluon plasma forms. The nuclei of atoms are made up of protons and neutrons, which are in turn made up of quarks, and these are bound together by gluons—no quark has ever been observed in isolation, only with gluons. By smashing together electrically-charged lead atoms and generating temperatures 100,000 hotter than the sun’s core, ALICE is trying to “melt” protons and neutrons and release quarks from their gluon bonds, thus creating the plasma.

Quark-gluon plasma was in existence just after the Big Bang, when the universe was so incredibly hot that matter was essentially in a “liquid” state. By studying how plasma forms, expands, and cools, ALICE will hopefully give us clues about how matter in the Universe today came to be.

(Image Credit: CERN/ALICEinfo)

Five Things Scientists Could Learn with Their New, Improved Particle Accelerator

"The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is back, and it’s better than ever. The particle accelerator, located at CERN, the European particle physics lab near Geneva, shut down in February 2013, and since then scientists have been upgrading and repairing it and its particle detectors. The LHC will be back up to full speed this May. Yesterday, scientists discussed the new prospects for the LHC at the annual meeting of AAAS (which publishes Science).

The LHC is the world’s most powerful particle accelerator. Protons blast along its 17-mile (27-kilometer) ring at nearly light speed, colliding at the sites of several particle detectors, which sift through the resulting particle debris. In 2012, LHC’s ATLAS and CMS experiments discovered the Higgs boson with data from the LHC’s first run, thereby explaining how particles get mass. The revamped LHC will run at a 60% higher energy, with more sensitive detectors, and a higher collision rate. What might we find with the new-and-improved machine? Here are five questions scientists hope to answer.”

Find out more at Science News.


The Magnetic Motion collection by Iris Van Herpen

About the collection:

For her SS 15 ready-to-wear collection, presented in Paris on Sep 30th, 2014, Iris van Herpen explores the interplay of magnetic forces. By thoroughly examining the representation of dynamic forces of attraction and repulsion, the designer fuses nature and technology.

Earlier this year, van Herpen visited CERN the Large Hadron Collider, whose magnetic field exceeding that of earth’s by 20,000 times, provided inspiration for “Magnetic Motion”. “I find beauty in the continual shaping of Chaos which clearly embodies the primordial power of nature’s performance,” says Van Herpen describing the essence of the collection. Van Herpen stayed true to her spirit of bridging fashion and other disciplines by collaborating with the Canadian architect Philip Beesley, and the Dutch artist Jolan van der Wiel.

Beesley is a pioneer in responsive ‘living’ sculpture whose poetic works combine advanced computation, synthetic biology, and mechatronics engineering. Van der Wiel is an artist and craftsman whose work with magnetic tension has resulted in dynamic sculptures and installations that bring to mind the power of volcanic eruptions. Both artists strive to erase the boundaries between nature and technology in their work, which coincides with the direction of van Herpen’s creative aim.

Large Hadron Collider ready to delve even deeper than ‘God particle’ as it switches back on at double power

CERN’s Large Hadron Collider is set to be switched back on in March — hoping that a £97 million upgrade could push it to even greater discoveries, after it found the “God particle” in 2012.

The second three year run of the huge atom smasher will begin in March 2015. The Large Hadron Collider has been switched off since its last run finished in 2012.

The world’s largest particle collider has been undergoing a £97 million upgrade since then, as scientists comb through the data found during the last run.

It is being cooled back down ready for the switch on, and is almost at its operating temperature of 1.9 degrees above absolute zero, or about minus 271.25 degrees Celsius. Scientists are also testing out the equipment and earlier in December activated one of the magnets required to fire atoms around the collider.

Scientists are now gearing up to turn both on at once, in 2015. That will produce collisions of a scale never achieved by any accelerator in the past, equivalent with 154 tons of TNT.

The extra power will allow the CERN’s numerous experiments to look into deep mysteries of the universe, such as dark matter.

The Large Hadron Collider was used in 2012 to confirm the existence of the Higgs boson, known as the God particle, which explains the very beginning of the universe.


The LHC is preparing to restart!


What is the future of the LHC?

How has the discovery of the Higgs Boson two years ago affected our understanding of particle physics? What changes to the LHC can we expect to see in the future? And why on earth has it been closed for two years? The LHC will restart in 2015 with double the collision energy after its two-year break.

Join us on twitter to ask CERN’s Clara Nellist all your burning questions about life and research at the LHC. She’ll be online from 7pm UK Time (that’s 11am PDT/2pm EDT) on Tuesday 16 September  - follow along and get involved in the conversation by following #RiChat, @claranellist and @Ri_science.

Watch Clara’s intro to her research and the chat:

UPDATE: If you missed the chat, you can catch up with the conversation with our Storify here, and you can always say hi to Clara @claranellist on twitter!

The Large Hadron Collider has observed two brand new particles

Two never-before-seen “heavy-weight” baryon particles have been detected by the world’s favourite particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider. The discovery could help scientists understand more about the interactions of elementary particles.

Physicists from CERN in Geneva have discovered two new types of baryon particles named Xi_b’- and Xi_b*- (before you ask, no, we’re not sure how to pronounce them).

Baryon particles are subatomic particles such as hyperons that are made up of three strongly-bonded tiny elementary particles called quarks - which are generally thought to be some of the smallest units of matter.

Xi_b’- and Xi_b*- were both predicted to already exist by the quantum physics models, but they’d never been seen before this and scientists weren’t sure of their exact mass - something they’ve now managed to calculate. And the heavy-weight subatomic particles impressively big - both are more than six times as massive as protons.

The new baryons were spotted in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the particle accelerator most famous for (probably) finding the Higgs boson.

Continue Reading.

Watch TEDxCERN, now live »

SCIENCE! DARK MATTER! COSMIC RAYS! ACCELERATING PARTICLES! Learn about all the mad science you love at TEDxCERN today.

From the brilliant minds who brought you the Large Hadron Collider, you’ll hear talks on attempting nuclear fission in a school science lab, developing nanomaterials that interact with DNA, and much more. 

Tune in anytime from 7:30am to 1:30pm (EST). 

You should watch with us. It’ll be fun. 

(Photo via CERN)