When two such energy-packed protons smash into each other, they can knock off constituents from each proton — either quarks or gluons — that may, in turn, interact to produce entirely new particles. Predicting the number of particles produced by a proton collision could help scientists determine the probability of detecting a new particle.
However, existing models generate predictions with an uncertainty of 30 to 40 percent. That means that for high-energy collisions that produce a large number of particles, the uncertainty of detecting rare particles can be a considerable problem.
Typically, a magnetic field acts to bend charged particles that are produced by proton collisions. The measurements, Lee says, give a more accurate picture of an average proton collision, compared with existing theoretical models. Knowing what a typical proton collision looks like will help scientists set the collider to essentially see through the background of average events, to more efficiently detect rare particles. Lee says the new results may also have a significant impact on the study of the hot and dense medium from the early universe.
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In addition to proton collisions, scientists also plan to study the highest-energy collisions of lead ions, each of which contain protons and neutrons. When accelerated in a collider, lead ions flatten into disks due to a force called the Lorentz contraction. When smashed together, lead ions can generate hundreds of interactions between protons and produce an extremely dense medium that is thought to mimic the conditions of space just after the Big Bang. In this way, the Large Hadron Collider experiment could potentially simulate the condition of the very first moments of the early universe.
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Physicists detect whiff of new particle at the Large Hadron Collider
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Scientists look for such interactions between the Higgs boson and elementary particles, either by studying specific decays of the Higgs boson or by searching for instances where the Higgs boson is produced along with other particles.
The Higgs boson decays almost instantly after being produced in the LHC and it is by looking through its decay products that scientists can probe its behaviour. These measurements provide insight into the underlying mechanism that produces the Higgs bosons. Both collaborations determined that the observed rates and distributions are compatible with those predicted by the Standard Model, at the current rate of statistical uncertainty.
However, interactions with the lighter second-generation fermions — muons, charm quarks and strange quarks — are considerably rarer. This search is complicated by the large background of more typical SM processes that produce pairs of muons. When a Higgs boson decays into quarks, these elementary particles immediately produce jets of particles. We have developed novel machine-learning techniques to help with this task. The Higgs boson also acts as a mediator of physics processes in which electroweak bosons scatter or bounce off each other.
Related Particle Physics - Experimental Methods and Colliders [articles]
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