LHC

In 2004 three physicists decided to dabble in a field they knew little about. Within weeks they had developed a new technique that transforms weeks' worth of computer calculations into something that could be done on a single page in an hour. It's used in particle accelerators such as the LHC at CERN.

String theory has one very unique consequence that no other theory of physics before has had: it predicts the number of dimensions of space-time. But where are these other dimensions hiding and will we ever observe them?

"It's a great day for particle physics," says Ben Allanach, a theoretical physicist at the University of Cambridge. "It's very exciting, I think we're on the verge of the Higgs discovery." And indeed, it seems like the Large Hadron Collider at CERN has given particle physics an early Christmas present — compelling evidence that the famous Higgs boson exists.

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Are we close to finding the Higgs? Ben Allanach explains it is not about catching a glimpse of the beast itself, but instead keeping a careful count of the evidence it leaves behind.

Here's your chance to venture to the frontiers of physics using your very own computer. This week CERN began public testing of LHC@home 2.0, a project that enlists the computing power of volunteers from around the world to help simulate high-energy collisions of protons in the LHC.

It's been nearly 18 months since the Large Hadron Collider at CERN started up and scientists are eagerly awaiting their first glimpse into the cosmic mysteries it was designed to explore. But when can we realistically expect the first ground-breaking discoveries to come through? Last week, John Ellis, outgoing leader of the theory division at CERN, addressed an audience of physicists at the University of Cambridge to update them on the current state of play. Plus went along and also managed to catch Ellis for a quick interview.

Find out with Martin Rees
It's hard to avoid CERN these days. Last year's successful switch-on of CERN's Large Hadron Collider, followed by a blow-out which is currently being fixed, sparked wide-spread media coverage, and currently CERN stars in the Tom Hanks movie Angels and Demons. So what goes on at CERN and why the hubbub about the Large Hadron Collider, known as the LHC? Ben Allanach investigates.
The world's biggest physics experiment is due to start
The future of technology to probe the very nature of the Universe
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