News / Science & Technology

At FermiLab, end of Search for 'God Particle' Nears

US Department of Energy’s Fermilab
US Department of Energy’s Fermilab
Kane Farabaugh

A twenty-five year search for one of the keys to understanding the structure of the universe is coming to an end at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermilab in suburban Chicago.  The Tevatron Accelerator, a sub-atomic particle collider, is scheduled to go offline later this year.  When that happens, the Large Hadron Collider, or LHC, in Geneva, Switzerland, will fully take over the search for the so-called "God Particle."  But, the Tevatron is not going quietly into retirement.

For more than 15 years, scientist Robert Roser has searched for the elusive "Higgs Boson."

"The Higgs Boson is a hypothetical particle that we believe exists to fix a flaw in the standard mode," said Robert Roser. "The standard model, to us, is our mathematical description of how the universe works.  The significant flaw in that model is that it doesn’t explain mass."

The discovery of the Higgs Boson - known to many as the "God Particle" - could give scientists the answers they seek to many of the biggest questions known to man.

"We’re asking the question of how the universe works, and why is it built the way it is built?"

To find the Higgs Boson at Fermilab, scientists use the Tevatron Accelerator to slam protons and anti-protons together.  In the stream of data that follows, scientists look for clues that the Higgs Boson exists.  So far, they haven’t found any such clues.  But Roser says they may have found something else.

"As we look at these huge data sets that we’ve acquired over the 10 years, we’re now putting out things that we’ve learned about that data," he said. "And so what you’re seeing here is evidence for perhaps a new particle and there will be other things that will come out over the coming months that will be just as interesting as this."

The discovery of what could be a previously unknown sub-atomic particle could also be the last major accomplishment of the Tevatron.

"All good things will come to an end, and this will be the end for the Tevatron.  It's had a glorious career, 25 years, which is very long in the accelerator field," said Pier Oddone.

Pier Oddone is the Director of Fermilab.  He says the funding needed to continue the research necessary to find the Higgs Boson, if it exists at all, exceeds Fermilab’s $400 million annual budget.

"It is one third the budget of the laboratory in Geneva Switzerland," he said.

The CERN laboratory in Geneva is home to the Large Hadron Collider.  Built in collaboration with Fermilab, it is a more powerful device than the Tevatron Accelerator.  When the Tevatron goes offline later this year, the focus in this area of physics will finally move from the United States to Europe.

"In this last two decades that has shifted where the facility in Geneva went ahead and built this formidable machine, which we were trying to build in Texas called the Superconducting Supercollider," said Oddone. "We closed ours but the Europeans went ahead with theirs, and that is what has led to this differentiation now in the funding of laboratories."

Even though Fermilab stands to lose some prestige when the Tevatron shuts down, scientists say the U.S. is still be well represented in the field of particle physics.  Since the Tevatron began colliding, Robert Roser says it has been an international effort, and it will continue to be one as the search goes on in Geneva.   

"There [are] fifteen nations that are participating on this experiment," said Roser. "Roughly 300 of the 600 collaborators on this experiment are from non-U.S. institutions.  So it’s very much a large multi-national or international collaboration.  All big science is these days."

After the Tevatron goes offline, it will continue to play a role at Fermilab.  Engineers plan to open previously inaccessible segments of the collider tunnel, where they will display part of the accelerator and detectors in an exhibit the public will be able to visit.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid