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After Creating the ‘God particle’, this Machine is Looking for Dark Matter

By: Joelle Luo

The team operating the world’s largest particle collider made history ten years ago after discovering the Higgs boson particle, a key finding to understanding the creation of the universe. This was nicknamed the ‘God particle.’

Although most scientists believe dark matter is real, none have been able to prove its existence, so one of the best chances to visualize and understand the unknown substance is through the Large Hadron Collider, which is a particle smasher.

The Large Hadron Collider was built over a decade by the European Organization for Nuclear

Research to hopefully answer questions about particle physics. It is located a little more than 300 feet underground in Geneva. Its circumference is nearly 17 miles.

“If we can figure out the properties of dark matter, we learn what our galaxy is made of,” said Joshua Ruderman, an associate professor of physics at NYU. “It would be transformative.”

Physicists have been intrigued by the concept of dark matter for decades. Even now, it is widely believed to make up 27% of the universe and learning more about it can allow scientists to figure out how the universe came to be.

So far, scientists have uncovered only 5% of the whole universe. Researchers are hoping that the Large Hadron Collider can help them figure out more clearly what dark matter is. As of right now, the only solid information we have about it is that it doesn’t absorb, reflect, or let out light, which makes it more difficult to detect. Researchers say they can confirm that it exists due to its gravitational pull on objects, and they have witnessed how it helps bend light.

Inside the collider, superconducting magnets chilled at -456 degrees Fahrenheit, colder than space, and two particle beams traveling close to the speed of light are made to collide. By using advanced sensors and monitors, scientists analyze the substances created by the collisions, which replicate similar conditions to the Big Bang, which allows them to learn about the seconds after the universe was made.

If scientists do not discover dark matter in the next several years, they say there will be more upgrades done to the Large Hadron Collider. These upgrades will most likely take three years after the current run stops, which leaves the fourth round of data collections and experiments to start in 2029.

If all goes to plan, the trial could capture 10 times more data than any previous experiment,

experiment but unraveling the universe’s secrets isn’t as easy as it sounds.

“This is hard, and something that could take a whole lifetime of exploration,” Runderman said.

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