Chileans participate in the most powerful proton collision in history

The academics are working on the Atlas experiment, which is aimed at obtaining data from the largest particle collisions in history to recreate conditions that are similar to those present after the Big Bank, the explosion that created the universe.

Chile is collaborating with work on the ATLAS detector for data capture and analysis
Chile is collaborating with work on the ATLAS detector for data capture and analysis

International scientists in charge of the world’s largest atomic collider, known as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), have managed to provoke particle collisions that generated record amounts of energy with the aim of recreating similar conditions to those that followed the Big Bang explosion that the universe emerged from.

“This is physics in action, the beginning of a new era, with 7TeV (teraelectron volts),” said Paola Catapano, scientist and spokeswoman of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, while informing on the experiment.

“It’s a fantastic moment for science,” said CERN General Director Rolf Heuer in a video conference from Japan after hearing of the results produced by the atomic collider.

Chile also participated in this crucial scientific event, with contributions by researchers from the Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María (UTFSM) and the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (PUC) who are participating in the Atlas experiment, named after one of the four detectors that the LHC uses to collect data.

“Chile is collaborating with work on the ATLAS detector for data capture and analysis and we will probably be able to work on the future improvements made to the detector,” said Claudio Dib, an academic from the UTESM who is leading the participation by Chilean experts on the project.

The researcher also explained what the particle collision consists in and the contributions it will make to science. “When protons collide they release particles that reveal what happened in that collision. This will allow us to study matter at its most basic and fundamental level. We are talking about exploring the composition of matter on a scale a thousand times smaller than a proton, which in turn is 100,000 times smaller than an atom,” he stated.

“By progressively increasing the frequency and the energy of the collisions we might even fulfill the great dream of finding the Higgs boson particle,” Dib added.

Also known as the “divine particle,” the Higgs boson particle is considered the cornerstone particle of the current model of elemental particle physics, though it has never been observed. It is important, as scientists believe it to be the key piece to the puzzle that endows the most basic components of matter with mass.