LHC steps closer to discoveries on antimatter

Cern physicists have detected a type of sub-atomic particle called a beauty quark, during an experiment designed to reveal the nature of antimatter
Written by Tom Espiner, Contributor

The first particle has been detected in a Large Hadron Collider experiment that hopes to shed light on the nature of interactions between matter and antimatter.

LHCb — an experiment set up to explore what happened in the moments immediately after the Big Bang — on Wednesday found a particle called a beauty or bottom quark. Cern scientists have a wishlist of particles they want to measure in the experiment, and the beauty quark is the first on the list that they have found.

The detection is a step on the road to the possible discovery of new particles or interactions between particles, said Cern physicist Christine Sutton. Beauty particles were first discovered in 1977.

"This is like the first cake off the production line," Sutton told ZDNet UK on Thursday."Being able to identify particles you know and love is important, as it demonstrates how well your experiment is working. It gives you a sound foundation when you say you think you've found something new."

The type of beauty quark LHCb detected is called a B+. LHCb physicists collected data on approximately 10 million proton-to-proton collisions to find the particle, according to the LHCb site.

The Atlas experiment at Cern has also measured its first sub-atomic particles, called W particles. The first W particles seen at Atlas appeared on 1 April, according to the Atlas website.

Like B+ beauty quarks, W particles are already known to scientists as part of the standard model of physics. That theory attempts to explain the fundamental interactions between elementary particles. W particles were first observed in 1983 at Cern by physicists Carlo Rubbia and Simon van der Meer.

Cern director of communications James Gillies told ZDNet UK on Thursday that all of the Cern experiments were making "good progress" in detecting standard-model particles.

The LHC saw its first high-energy physics in March. Physicists hope the particle accelerator will eventually allow higher-energy physics that will yield insights into the fundamental physical nature of the universe

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