LHC to be run for an extra yr to find the Higgs particle

Written by: Anita Nair
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London, Dec 11 (ANI): Scientists at CERN are planning to run the Large Hadron Collider for an extra year in order to find the Higgs particle - part of the mechanism that is thought to endow other particles with mass.

Preparations for the extended run, which would see the 27-kilometre circular collider operating over three continuous years, are being finalized.

"It would be a shame to stop," Nature quoted Steve Myers, who is responsible for maintaining and upgrading the accelerator, as saying.

Theorists believe that the Higgs particle, together with its associated field, create a sort of cosmic molasses that endows other particles with mass.

The mechanism is seen as a necessary extension to the 'standard model' of particle physics, which presently struggles to explain the origins of mass, and why some particles are heavy whereas others weigh nothing at all.

The best guess of most physicists is that the Higgs weighs somewhere between 114 and 600 gigaelectronvolts (109 electronvolts), according to Sergio Bertolucci, CERN's director for research and computing.

Its mass will determine how the particle decays - and how easily it can be detected.

Despite the challenge, Bertolucci says that he is "very optimistic" that the LHC can cover most of the ground over which the Higgs is expected to be found.

But keeping the machine running for an extra year will have consequences. The delicate alignment of the LHC's superconducting magnets could suffer, requiring extra maintenance, says Myers. And additional computing resources will have to be found to handle the flood of extra data produced by the detectors.

But Bertolucci says they have strong incentives to extend the run, "If we stop the machine with 3,000 people apiece in the experiments waiting for data, there is no way we could get home at night without having slashed tyres on our cars." (ANI)

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