The Large Hadron Collider is to be switched off at the end of the year to undergo a major upgrade, but scientists hope to have achieved one of the machine’s major goals by the time it does – proving the existence of the so called God Particle.
Rolf-Dieter Heuer, director of CERN where the LHC is based, said he was confident that by the end of the year it will be possible to say
whether the Higgs Boson, the particle which is responsible for giving mass to the universe, exists.
The theoretical particle, nicknamed the God Particle due to its central role it has in explaining modern physics, has never been detected and scientists have been working for decades to prove its existence.
Scientists hope that high energy collisions of particles in the 17 mile underground tunnel at CERN will finally allow them to create the conditions to allow them to spot the elusive Higgs Boson.
Dr Heuer, who was speaking at the Hay Festival, said the LHC is scheduled to be closed down at the end of this year for up to two years in order to carry out upgrades that will increase its power and allow it to continue with more experiments.
For the first time the LHC will also be opened to the public, who will be allowed to walk through the underground tunnel that straddles the French-Swiss border.
Once the existence of Higgs Boson is known, there will be further work to prove its properties and understand the origins of the universe.
Dr Heuer said: “If the Large Hadron Collider continues to work I know we have enough collisions to produce enough signals to identify the Higgs Boson.
“We will know by the end of this year whether it exists or whether it is non-existent. This would be a huge discovery that after 50 years we are able to describe the visible universe.
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