Latest News from the LHC

24 October 2014

Professor Tara Shears of Liverpool University gave a talk entitled ‘Latest News from the LHC’ to a well-attended meeting of the Manchester and District Branch on 15 October.

Professor Tara Shears

The LHC facility at Geneva is unique in that it can create conditions that supposedly existed a very short time after the Big Bang; conditions inaccessible by other means. But with the discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012, can the LHC still make a significant contribution to our knowledge of the universe? Tara claimed that it could and justified her assertion by discussing three areas of ongoing research.

The Standard Model. This is a far from complete description of the universe. The existence of the Higgs particle – predicted by the model – does not preclude the likelihood that it forms part of a much deeper scheme whose details remain sketchy.

Matter – Antimatter. Self-evidently matter dominates the universe (we exist!) but matter and antimatter were created in equal amounts at the Big Bang. Experiments at the LHC seek to explain the scarcity of antimatter. The results will have to be consistent with cosmological observations.

Dark Matter/Energy. Atoms comprise only 4% of the Universe and mystery surrounds the remaining material. One possible solution lies in supersymmetric (SUSY) particles but the LHC has thus far failed to establish any evidence for this.

However, even if many mysteries remain, there is no mystery about the magnitude (physical size and personnel numbers) of the LHC. Professor Shears gave us a fascinating glimpse into the life of a scientist at the famous research centre.

Grenville Jones