You may have heard of the CERN nuclear facility in Geneva on the border with Switzerland and France; The European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN is a research organization that operates the largest and most powerful human-made particle accelerator known as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).
Seven main experiments are run at CERN to carry out research and experiments in particle physics, ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment) is a general-purpose particle physics accelerator. ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC Apparatus) alongside ALICE and CMS were the experiments used to help find the Higgs Boson (God particle) in July 2012.
The CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) experiment is one of the smaller of the two general-purpose particle physics detectors, its goal is to investigate a wide range of physics including the Higgs Boson, extra dimensions and particles that may well go toward making up dark matter.
The LHCb (Large Hadron Collider Beauty) is a specialized b-physics experiment that looks for interactions of b-hadrons which are heavy particles that contain a bottom quark, these sorts of experiments and observations can help to explain the matter-antimatter asymmetry of the universe as well as other elements with its makeup.
The LHC Forward (Large Hydron Collider Forward) is the smallest experiment at CERN’s LHC but it is still important, it is intended to measure the energy and numbers of neutral pions in the forward regions from collisions produced by the collider, this helps to explain the origins of ultra-high-energy cosmic rays, like the other experimental and observational setups the results from this machine go toward other important research and findings across the physics world.
TOTEM (Total Cross Section, Elastic Scattering and Diffraction Dissociation) is another setup at CERN often working together with LHCf, it shares an interaction point with CMS and aims to measure the cross-section, elastic scattering and diffractive processes.
MOeDAL (Monopole and Exotics Detector at the LHC) shares a cavern point with LHCb, its prime role is to directly search for the magnetic monopole (MM) and other highly ionizing stable massive particles (SMPs) including pseudo-massive particles, it uses Nuclear Track Detectors (NTDs), these are plastic slides that are physically etched by the highly ionizing particles that can display characteristics about the sources.
The CERN research organisation has offered a wealth of information and breakthroughs in particle physics, here are some of their most notable discoveries:
The Higgs Boson particle was discovered after a two-decade search, the elementary particle found from two experiments detected a new elementary particle weighing about 126 times as much as a proton which is the positively charged particle found in the nucleus of an atom. The finding was the final piece in the puzzle of the standard model of particle physics – this is a theory that describes how three of the four fundamental sources being electromagnetic, weak and strong nuclear forces interact at a subatomic level (but this does not include gravity).
In the 1960s, after hypothesizing the idea and existence of a field of which all particles would be dragged “like marbles moving through molasses – giving the particle mass” – Peter Higgs and Belgian physicist Francois Englert were awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for their prediction of the Higgs boson’s existence in 2013. This particular particle is the one that is thought to give all other particles their mass and subsequently became knows as the Higgs boson, it is also well known as the God particle but often this name is termed too sensational by many physicists and was even rejected by Higgs himself.
In 1973 one of the first discoveries to come out of CERN was with weak magnetic fields and was detected inside a device called the Gargamelle bubble chamber, weak neutral currents are one-way subatomic particles and can interact via a weak source, they are one of the four fundamental interactions of nature (electromagnetism + weak force = electroweak force).
A decade after the scientists at CERN detected weak neutral currents, they then went on to discover W and Z bosons, these are elementary particles that mediate the known weak force. The two bosons have the same mass makeup but both have opposite electrical charges whilst the Z boson has no charge – the discovery was a major contribution to the Standard Model.
In 1989 CERN scientists determined the containing families of particles that contain light neutrinos, these are uncharged particles with very little or no mass, they rarely interact with other particles and are known in the scientific community as “Ghost particles”.
Antimatter has been created and observed at CERN. Antimatter consists of a particle that has the same mass as a piece of normal matter but has an opposite charge and some other properties – when matter and antimatter combine they instantly annihilate each other and produce very high energy with gamma rays and other high energy particles being produced.
Dark matter (antimatter), unlike normal matter, is not easily detectable, only from the gravitational effects it seems to have on the visible matter makes its detection possible – it does not absorb, reflect or emit light which makes it extremely hard to spot. Dark matter makes up around 27% of the universe (that we know of today).
In 1995 CERN scientists were successful in creating a form of antimatter called antihydrogen which is a negatively charged version of regular hydrogen, in the PS210 experiment, the antimatter collided with matter and self-destructed before the scientists were able to properly study it.
However, in 2010, the Antihydrogen Laser Physics Apparatus (ALPHA) team at CERN created and then was able to keep the antimatter-antihydrogen in a controlled state for about a six of a second, along came May 2011 and they tried again being able to manage to maintain the antimatter for more than 15 minutes.
A big mystery to physicists is how matter can exist all around us with the presence of antimatter as they tend to annihilate each other on contact. They tend to work together due to some spatial asymmetry between the two, like a yin and yang of the particle physics world where one would not exist without the other and one needs the other to exist. It all has to do with a concept known as charge parity symmetry (CP-symmetry), however, the physicists at CERN managed to show that the charge parity is violated.
Even the World Wide Wide was invented and shown to the world at CERN, in 1989 the British scientist Tim Burners-Lee set up his NeXT computer to use as a web server with a website on it describing the world wide web project, there were accompanying instructions on how to set up a web server and host pages there. It was initially intended as a communications protocol to be used between universities and scientific institutions to share data. In April 1993 the WWW software was transferred into the public domain so anyone with a web server or just a browser cost host websites on the internet or browse it freely.
Established in 1954 CERN not only hosts and operated the largest particle physics laboratory in the world and has 23 members states with many engineers, physicists and scientists from different nations that have contributed a lot to the general understanding of the world and its creation as well as the very much farther universes.