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Particle physics

Restarting the world's largest particle accelerator after a two-year overhaul isn't just a matter of throwing a switch and making sure the lights go on. It's an eight-week process of baby steps – one's that involve billions of electron volts. But the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) took a major step forward this week as the CERN team fired up two counter-rotating proton beams that were injected into the LHC using the Super Proton Synchrotron, then accelerated to an energy of 450 GeV each.

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As the saying goes, you can't keep a good particle accelerator down. In Switzerland, CERN has announced that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is back online after a major overhaul and refit. This power-up of the most powerful particle accelerator in the world marks the culmination of two years of work and months of testing, resulting in a significant boost in performance for the giant collider's "season 2." Read More
In spite of substantial scientific investigation and convincing indirect evidence, dark matter still eludes direct detection and its existence essentially remains a tantalizing, but unproven, hypothesis. Notwithstanding this, nearly 85 percent of the predicted mass of the universe remains unaccounted for, and dark matter theory is still the prime contender to explain where it may be. Researchers at the University of Southampton have theorized the existence of a new "lighter" dark matter particle in an effort to help unravel the mystery. Read More
Scientists have struggled for decades to identify the constituent particles of dark matter, but they’ve had little to show for all their efforts. A new study at Case Western Reserve University is now advancing the radical new hypothesis that dark matter may in fact be made not of exotic subatomic particles, but rather of macroscopic objects which would mass anywhere from a tennis ball to a dwarf planet, be as dense as a neutron star, and still be adequately described by the Standard Model of particle physics. Read More
There are all sorts of apps available for smartphones to show atmospheric phenomena like wind speed, temperature, and rainfall along with other observations for tides and phases of the moon. But how about something really cool like an app for measuring the amount of interstellar cosmic radiation hitting the earth? A professor of physics from the University of Wisconsin thought that would be cool as well, and created an app to turn your smartphone into a cosmic ray detector that works in a similar way to those instruments found in high-tech observatories and mega-expensive laboratories. Read More
Fresh evidence has come to light supporting the theory that the particle detected at CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in 2012 is indeed the elusive Higgs boson. The work is the result of an international collaboration led by researchers from MIT, and confirms that the potential Higgs boson does exhibit the decay characteristics that would be expected under the Standard Model. Read More
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) in Dresden, Germany have analyzed data from the HADES particle detector and concluded that the so-called "dark photons" are not the constituents of dark matter. Dark photons, or U bosons, are hypothetical particles that had thus far been the main candidate for that role, and this new result could make the search for the dark matter particle even more challenging than before. Read More
The close of 2013 gives us an excellent opportunity, though satiated with holiday feasts, to look back on a year that has been filled with scientific accomplishment. So it's time to get comfortable on your Binary Chair, sip your hot cocoa from a phase-change mug while your Foodini prints out a batch of cookies and reflect on science stories of note from the past year. Read More
The study of archaeology has long been carried out using tools from the physics lab. Among these are carbon-14 dating, thermoluminescence dating, x-ray photography, x-ray fluorescence elemental analysis, CAT and MRI scanning, ground-penetrating sonar and radar, and many others. What is less well known is that archaeology has also made substantial contributions to physics. This is the story of old lead; why it is important to physics, and what ethical problems it presents to both sciences. Read More
Following a last-minute delay, physicists Francois Englert and Peter Higgs were today jointly awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics for their independent formulation of the Higgs mechanism, which supplies fundamental particles with mass. Their theory was recently validated by the discovery of a Higgs boson at CERN's Large Hadron Collider. Read More
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