Have we reached the end of Particle Physics?

Posted by Ethan Siegel on October 17, 2012

The entirety of the known Universe — from the smallest constituents of the atoms to the largest superclusters of galaxies — have more in common than you might think.

Although the scales differ by some 50 orders of magnitude, the laws that govern the grandest scales of the cosmos are the very same laws that govern the tiniest particles and their interactions with one another on the smallest known scales.

We study these two scales in entirely different ways; the largest scales can only be studied with great telescopes, using the natural cosmic laboratory of outer space, while the smallest scales require the largest, most powerful machines ever constructed here on Earth: particle accelerators! And of all the particle accelerators ever built by humanity, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is by far the most powerful.

Although many of us are still hoping that the LHC finds something new, exciting and unexpected, it was constructed — first and foremost — to find the last missing piece of the Standard Model: the Higgs Boson. There are many types of fundamental particles in the Universe, but we can divide them into three general categories: fermions (like quarks and electrons), gauge bosons (like the photon), and the Higgs, a unique, fundamental scalar particle.

Read more: Have we reached the end of Particle Physics? – Starts With A Bang.

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