Next LCH experiment likely in spring 2009

Particle physicists in Helsinki – general public interested in the LHC.


Physicists were not on a collision course at the anniversary seminar held at the University of Helsinki, even though the world’s largest particle accelerator LHC (Large Hadron Collider) was the focus of attention. The open event shed light on the background and aims of the massive project implemented at CERN in Geneva. All in all, 2,000 physicists from 150 universities and 34 countries are taking part in the project.

To the non-professionals in the audience, the most interesting issue was when the collider, launched in September, will again be functioning. After all, the collider’s debut was not exactly a big bang, since the electrical connection between two magnets failed almost from the word go.

“The official word is that in spring 2009, but when in spring – or even summer or autumn – is a different matter altogether,” says Professor Paula Eerola from the Department of Physics at the University of Helsinki. Eerola, who has also worked in CERN, also shed more light on the part played by Finnish scientists in the project.

“We are participating in three experiments, particularly in the development of the tracker and other equipment used to retrieve data.” University lecturers David Milstead from Stockholm University and Anne Green from Nottingham explained why the enormous 27-kilometre long top project located an average 100 metres underground was necessary to begin with.

“The basics of particle physics are simple: to determine what are the smallest constituents of matter and how they interact. By colliding particles at almost the speed of light, we are trying to find the as yet unperceived Higgs boson,” says Milstead.

The particle in question is the “missing link” and with the help of which the particle mass explaining interaction could be verified. Colliding elementary particles also produces new information on the birth of the universe because the conditions in the collider correspond to the situation immediately after the Big Bang.

Text: Kai Maksimainen
Photo: CERN

Translation: AAC Noodi Oy

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