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The Large Hadron Collider has made some amazing discoveries, but science doesn't sleep, and we've got bigger, faster and more accurate particle accelerators on the way!

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Thumbnail Image Credit: CERN/ Brice, Maximilien

Sources:

https://home.cern/science/physics/standard-model
https://home.cern/science/accelerators
https://home.cern/science/physics/higgs-boson
https://physicstoday.scitation.org/do/10.1063/pt.6.2.20181217a/full/
https://indico.cern.ch/event/1096427/contributions/4668541/attachments/2373709/4054489/CEPC-IAS2022-XinchouLou-final.pdf
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1140/epjp/s13360-021-02154-9
https://fcc.web.cern.ch/overview
http://cds.cern.ch/record/2653532/files/FCC_STILL_02.jpg?subformat=icon-1440
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/361187882_Future_Circular_Collider_Integrated_Programme_and_Feasibility_Study
https://home.cern/science/engineering/pulling-together-superconducting-electromagnets
https://www.gehealthcare.com/insights/article/what-does-tesla-mean-for-an-mri-and-its-magnet
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/361187882_Future_Circular_Collider_Integrated_Programme_and_Feasibility_Study
https://www.innovationnewsnetwork.com/a-circular-electron-positron-higgs-factory-for-the-world/11445/
https://home.cern/science/engineering/restarting-lhc-why-13-tev
https://ed.fnal.gov/tchrbkground/acc_need.html
https://www.linearcollider.org/from-design-to-reality/technologies.html
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-43584969
https://www.symmetrymagazine.org/article/four-things-physicists-still-wonder-about-the-higgs-boson
https://home.cern/science/physics/supersymmetry

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_px84ukX9Q&ab_channel=CERN
https://www.energy.gov/science/doe-explainsmuons
https://theconversation.com/how-a-muon-accelerator-could-unravel-some-of-the-universes-greatest-mysteries-131415
https://arxiv.org/pdf/2201.07895.pdf#page=155
https://www.symmetrymagazine.org/article/october-2010/when-muons-collide
https://youtu.be/_zT_yrqB5Bc?t=86
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-02122-y
https://muoncollider.web.cern.ch/node/25
https://www.aps.org/publications/apsnews/202111/muon.cfm
https://www.symmetrymagazine.org/article/the-status-of-supersymmetry

https://neutrinos.fnal.gov/mysteries/mass/#moreinfo
https://neutrinos.fnal.gov/whats-a-neutrino
https://youtu.be/2os1rfVXRCM?t=160
https://www.dunescience.org/
https://www.symmetrymagazine.org/article/five-fascinating-facts-about-DUNE
https://www.symmetrymagazine.org/article/five-more-fascinating-facts-about-dune
https://lbnf-dune.fnal.gov/how-it-works/neutrino-beam/
https://pip2.fnal.gov/how-it-works/introduction/
https://lbnf-dune.fnal.gov/how-it-works/detectors-and-computing/
https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-0221/15/08/T08010/pdf
https://science.howstuffworks.com/deep-underground-neutrino-experiment-will-work.htm
https://argoncube.org/duneND.html
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https://sanfordlab.org/article/why-dune-searching-origin-matter
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/troubled-u-s-neutrino-project-faces-uncertain-future-and-fresh-opportunities/

IMAGES/MEDIA

https://home.cern/resources/videoon
https://cds.cern.ch/images/OPEN-PHO-ACCEL-2019-001-2
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ILC_SchemeTDR.jpg
https://cds.cern.ch/images/OPEN-PHO-ACCEL-2014-004-3/file?size=large
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CLIC_two_beam_module_installed_in_the_CLIC_Test_Facility_at_CERN_(CTF3).jpg
https://cds.cern.ch/images/OPEN-PHO-EXP-2018-004-1
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Artist%E2%80%99s_impression_of_the_expected_dark_matter_distribution_around_the_Milky_Way.ogv
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Fermilab.jpg#/media/File:Fermilab.jpg
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Quark_structure_pion.svg
https://www.eurekalert.org/multimedia/863170

http://cds.cern.ch/record/905940
https://www.gettyimages.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwRSk524dpo&ab_channel=NASAGoddard
This SciShow video is supported by Linode.

You can go to linode.com/scishow to learn more and get a $100 60-day  credit on a new Linode account. [ INTRO ] You’re probably familiar with  the Large Hadron Collider. You know, the massive ring beneath  the France-Switzerland border that smashes teeny tiny particles  together at near light speed, and hasn’t made a black hole  that sucked up the Earth, like some people feared?

Yep. That Large Hadron Collider. Better known as the LHC.

Over the past 15 years, the LHC  has done a lot of awesome science, and made some pretty significant discoveries. So it deserves that name recognition. But there are other particle  smashers in the proverbial pipeline.

They’re not all bigger, but they all hope to be better  probes of the subatomic. So let’s have a look at a few of  these upcoming megastructures, and what they’re going to help us  learn about reality as we know it. Our current best understanding  of the subatomic world is called the Standard Model, and it can explain the  physics of almost everything, from why your coffee cools  down after hours at your desk to how radio waves carry your favorite  tunes halfway around the world.

It all comes down to a collection  of elementary particles… the fundamental building blocks of our reality. That includes particles that make up you and me, like electrons and the quarks  inside protons and neutrons. And it includes more exotic bits of matter.

But it also includes even  weirder particles called bosons. We’ll get to the most infamous  one of those in just a moment. As tidy as the Standard Model appears to be, there’s a lot that it can’t explain.

Which brings us to particle accelerators. They help physicists fill in some of these gaps by taking advantage of the fact that  energy can create mass and visa versa. You know, the good ol’ E equals M C squared.

Using super strong magnetic fields, these massive machines ramp up  beams of their subatomic specimens to nearly the speed of light, and smash them together to watch the energy from those collisions turn  into brand new particles. The LHC’s most famous accomplishment is probably the detection of the Higgs Boson, which was spotted back in 2012. Has it really been that long?

Apparently so. But maybe it feels like yesterday  because after all this time, there’s still a lot we don’t know about it. We know the Higgs boson has the very special job of giving other particles  in the Standard Model mass, but we still don’t know how it does that.

So to probe the mysteries of  the Higgs Boson in more detail, several countries are developing  their own version of a Higgs Factory. Some, like China’s Circular  Electron Positron Collider, or CERN’s Future Circular Collider, will feature two 100 kilometer rings that accelerate particles in opposite directions. If that sounds huge, it is.

Here’s what the FCC will  look like next to the LHC. Both of these upcoming  colliders build on and improve the existing design of the LHC  and use a lot of the same tech. With every trip around the ring, the particles get an energy  boost from an electrical pulse.

And powerful magnets with the strength of five and a half MRI machines help steer the beams to keep them going around in a circle. Once the particle beams are up to speed, they’ll come together at either  two or four collision points, each equipped with its own detector. They’ll need to go through a series of upgrades, but eventually, these extra large  colliders will smash particles with over seven times the energy  that the LHC currently achieves.

And that extra energy means physicists can study these subatomic particles in even finer detail. But Higgs Factories don’t have to be ring-shaped. Two other designs, the Japan-hosted  International Linear Collider and CERN’s Compact Linear  Collider, feature a straight line.

One upside to using a linear  accelerator over a circular one is that you only need the speeding-up bits, not the magnetic steering bits. So they can be cheaper to build. The downside is, you only get one  go at speeding up the particles, so the boosting tech has to be really good or the collider has to be really long.

But whether straight or bendy, all these Higgs Factories have the same goals. See, the LHC is kind of messy when it  comes to making these elusive Higgs bosons. Because it uses hadrons,  which are clusters of quarks, all those collisions end up making  a bunch of different particles.

And that creates a lot of noise  when you’re trying to work out what’s going on in the specific  collisions that create a Higgs Boson. So instead of complicated hadrons, Higgs Factories will smash  electrons with positrons, the electron's positively charged antimatter twin. Unlike quarks, they can exist as solo particles.

And when you combine that with the fact that matter and antimatter cancel each other out, it means the collisions between an electron and positron produce way fewer kinds of particles. So There’s a lot less noise for researchers to hunt through when trying to study the Higgs. After finding a way to churn  out all these Higgs bosons, physicists will use them to fill in a  bunch of gaps in the Standard Model.

For example, the fact that the Higgs  Boson is a mass-giving particle should mean that it’s quite heavy, or at least as heavy as the  particles it’s interacting with. But it’s actually light, subatomically speaking. So the Higgs Boson may not be the only particle  out there that gives other particles mass.

It may have a partner in  crime that our experiments haven’t had enough power or  sensitivity to detect yet. And these Higgs Factories may  be just the advancement we need. So electrons and positrons are great because  they’re less complicated than protons.

But protons do have one thing going for them. They’re heavy. And that  heaviness translates into energy.

To get the best of both worlds, physicists  want to smash a particle called the muon. Muons can basically be thought of  as the electron’s heavier sibling. In fact, if an electron had  the mass of an adult human, then a muon would be an elephant.

Not only can muons have a lot more  energy in them when collision time comes, their heftiness means they  don’t lose a lot of energy while they’re being swung around their ring. That means an accelerator  doesn't need to work as hard to speed them up compared to their much  lighter electron and positron friends. Plus, there’s the added benefit that  the collider doesn’t have to be massive.

A muon collider that’s 10 kilometers long  can achieve similar energies to the LHC, whose particles loop around  a 27 kilometer-long track,. And a more compact collider leaves  less of an environmental footprint. But muons do have their downsides.

When muons are made in a lab, they don’t tend to bunch together into a nice, tidy beam that you can fire down a pipe. And you need a tight beam so  the muons have a high chance of hitting each other when the beams collide. So even though we’ve known about  these particles since the 1930s, and scientists have wanted to build  a muon collider since the 1960s, we still don’t have one up and running.

Progress has been made, though. For example, an experiment called MICE, or the Muon Ionization Cooling Experiment, has managed to reliably fire protons onto a target and then supercool  the resulting beam of muons. Like condensing steam back into liquid water, this supercooling corrals the  particles into a much narrower beam.

But the cooling also slows the muons down, so a bunch of electromagnets need to speed  them back up, while keeping them bunched up. Repeat this cooling and  speeding a couple of times, and you’ve got yourself a  muon beam ready for study! Oh, and this all happens before the muons  enter the main particle accelerator ring.

At the moment, we don’t have an operational  supercollider dedicated to muon studies. But there is a joint mission  between CERN and Fermilab in the U. S. to build one by 2045.

When it gets up and running, researchers can use it a bit like a Higgs Factory to create and study Higgs Boson particles. But the energy they get out of  muons could be 20 times greater than the Higgs Factories we mentioned before, which could allow them to witness new  subatomic particles and interactions. They could even use a muon collider  to uncover evidence of dark matter, this mysterious invisible stuff  we’re pretty sure is out there, and is more abundant than  all of the matter we can see, but we don’t know what it actually is.

Now there’s one more particle  from the Standard Model that physicists are particularly keen  to study, and that’s the neutrino. Neutrinos are the neutrally charged  cousins to electrons and muons, but are so light we don’t even  know what their masses are. In fact, neutrinos are often described as ghosts.

They can stream through the  entire Earth as if it’s not there. And that’s not their only superpower. Neutrinos are shape shifters, as well.

Imagine buying milk chocolate at the store and coming home to find it’s white chocolate, then opening the packaging to find out it’s dark. I know, I know, I’d be disappointed, too. Neutrinos and their antimatter  twins each come in three flavors, and at any given moment can switch, or oscillate, between those flavors.

All this means that neutrinos are  incredibly difficult to detect, let alone study. But incredibly difficult does not mean impossible. There are multiple neutrino detectors  around the world that are hard at work, picking up the handful of unlucky neutrinos whose ghostly powers failed  them at just the wrong moment.

But so far, scientists have mostly relied  on the Sun as their neutrino source. Which is a bit annoying. You’d think they’d want more control  over exactly how many neutrinos are made, and what flavors they are.

Well, enter DUNE, the Deep  Underground Neutrino Experiment. This massive, 1300 kilometer-long experiment will run all the way from Fermilab in Illinois to the Sanford Underground  Research Facility in South Dakota. And DUNE is a bit unusual as  far as particle accelerators go.

There’s no tunnel or ring for the  neutrinos to traverse that distance. Neutrinos don’t need any of  that fancy infrastructure. They’ll just fly straight through the earth!

To make its neutrino batches, DUNE’s Fermilab accelerator will smack protons into a block of graphite to create new particles. But the most important of those new  particles are positively charged pions, which are a type of hadron. These pions are unstable, and quickly  decay into muons and neutrinos.

While the muons get trapped, the neutrinos can just zoom  through Fermilab’s detector, and then off toward the Sanford detector. Which is pretty darn massive. When construction finishes, the Sanford detector will have four tanks that are each six stories tall  and a football field long.

And they’ll be filled with  17,000 tons of liquid argon. When a neutrino gets close enough  to one of those argon nuclei, it can emit yet another kind of  particle in our Standard Model… either a W or Z Boson. Whichever boson pops into existence  will quickly crash into a nearby argon, creating a particle shower not  entirely unlike what we see in more traditional particle  accelerator collisions.

And some of those particles will be electrons, which are captured by ultrasensitive  instruments on the tanks’ walls. That’s how DUNE will indirectly detect neutrinos, but the neutrino’s ghostly nature  means these events will be pretty rare. Scientists are expecting to pick up  around 10 per day when they get started.

The detector back at Fermilab  will work in a similar way. It’s just a lot smaller. So scientists will be able to  compare the results coming from both to investigate the neutrino’s  shape-shifting powers.

They might even figure out why there’s  so much matter in the universe. According to the Standard Model, the energy of our universe’s birth  should have created an equal number of matter and antimatter particles. A perfect balance that would make  some supervillains weep with joy.

But reality seems to be out  of balance, favoring matter… unless there’s some section of the universe we can’t find that has entire antimatter galaxies, filled with antimatter stars and planets, and maybe an antimatter you. So scientists hope to see  whether or not matter neutrinos and antimatter neutrinos oscillate  according to the same rules. If they don’t, well, maybe one consequence is our universe’s preference for matter.

As for how long we might have  to wait to get those answers, a prototype DUNE has already been tested out. The whole experiment plans to  be online by the mid-2030s. Which, given the scale of a megaproject  such as this, is right around the corner.

So it’s a very exciting time  ahead for the field of physics! By building these spectacular machines to study Higgs Bosons, muons, and neutrinos , there’s the possibility we’ll  have a totally new understanding   of our universe within our lifetimes. It takes a ton of investment  to build these accelerators that probe the parts of our  world that are too small to see.

But if it reveals the  fundamental nature of reality? Well, I say it’s worth it. When you focus on the little things, the big picture sometimes becomes much clearer.

And when it comes to the little things, Linode has thought of them all. It can be difficult to learn how  to use a new tool or platform. So Linode, the cloud  computing company from Akamai, has done everything they can to walk you through the many uses of their cloud computing technology and how to implement them yourself.

They post tutorials and guides  for their open source resources all over their website and YouTube channel. And to provide you with as many  ways of learning as possible, including personalized guidance, they offer award-winning customer support  at your service 365 days of the year. With Linode, you’re not paying for some  mysterious cloud computing service.

They incorporate many open source tools and they’re there to show you how to use them. To get started, you can click the link in the description  or head to linode.com/scishow. That link gives you a $100 60-day  credit on a new Linode account.

And thanks to Linode for  supporting this SciShow video! [ OUTRO ]