April 28, 2023

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Information on Particle Physics

There are web pages with information for the public available for CERN as well as for Nikhef .

CERN can be visited by the public. More information is here. Also Nikhef organises each year an "open dag".

A short explanation about CERN is given in a 3 minute movie. There is a fun web page available for young children: CERNland.

Startup of The Large Hadron Collider (LHC)

There are many clips available on YouTube clips when you search for "CERN LHC"; for example CERN and the LHC. A particular entertaining one is the Large Hadron Rap . The following 6-minute video explains how the LHC works

Particles were first sent through the LHC collider ring in August 2008. In September 2008 an accident occurred with the Helium cooling system. An explanation in a YouTube clip can be found of what went wrong with the LHC.

LHC Run-1 started with proton injections in the ring on friday evening November 20, 2009. The latest news can be followed via the CERN twitter page, via the CERN youtube video's and via the LHC portal.

Run-1 included 3 years of operation (2010-2012) at collision energies of 7 TeV and 8 TeV GeV, the first LHC run ended and the experiment is being prepared for the upgrade to a full collision energy of 13 TeV. A dutch artikel in the magazine KIJK is here. The discovery of the Higgs boson was announced on July 4,2012. The, somewhat emotional, announcement in the CERN auditorium can be seen in the in this youtube video.

Run-2 included 3 years more of operation (2015-2017) with collisions at 13 TeV. The LHC provided a wealth of data on the Higgs boson, searches for new particles and forces, a state of matter called the quark-gluon plasma as well as on measurements related to the matter - antimatter asymmetry.

Run-3 started in 2022 at a record energy of 13.6 TeV. The aim of run-3 is to collect data with improved detectors and at a higher collision rate.

Information on the matter-antimatter asymmetry mystery

The famous theoretical physicist Paul Dirac developed the theory of relativistic quantum mechanics and found that there was a beautiful symmetry in the formula (now called Dirac equation) that he discovered. From this symmetry, he predicted that for each fundamental particle there should also exist an mirror antiparticle. These particles and anti-particles should feel identical forces and when the meet they annihilate into energy. As a consequence we are faced with the mystery: "why is there a universe of matter instead of nothing"? or "Why do we exist?" This question is addressed in an excellent talk shown here . There turns out to be a delicate asymmetry between matter and antimatter that is studied with high precision at the LHC by the LHCb experiment, by measuring decay processes of unstable particles called B-mesons. Information on results of the LHCb experiment can be found here.

In addition the quest for antimatter is summarized in a brochure (10 Mbyte pdf-file).

The book "Angels and Demons" from Dan Brown has attracted a lot of public attention to the subject of antimatter. Together with the premiere of the movie CERN has opened a dedicated Angles and Demons web page and a bulletin.


The following links contain presentations for the public on the topics of particle physics and antimatter (in Dutch):