The Atlas experiment, which analyzes the results of proton collisions inside the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), is designed to observe phenomena involving massive particles, such as the Higgs Boson, extra dimensions, and particles that could make up 'dark matter' — all of which have previously been unobservable with lower-power particle accelerators.
Fabiola Gianotti, lead researcher on the Atlas experiment — one of six particle-accelerator experiments taking place at Cern — said in a report published on the Cern website on Monday that the project has produced results even more quickly than expected.
"Atlas has worked very well since the beginning. Its overall data-taking efficiency is greater than 90 percent," Gianotti said. "The quality and maturity of the reconstruction and simulation software turned out to be better than we expected for this initial stage of the experiment." Gianotti said that future research, such as probing for extra dimensions, could yield results sooner than she had predicted. "In just a few months of data taking, Atlas has observed the known elementary particles, up to the heavy W and Z Bosons and the even heavier top quark," she wrote.
For more on this story, read Cern hopes for proof of extra dimensions in 2011 on ZDNet UK.