Lecture explores world’s largest particle accelerator

By Robyn Sanders

The Fall Physics Colloquium series continues this afternoon with a lecture about Baylor’s ongoing research at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator.

Dr. Kenichi Hatakeyama, assistant professor of physics at Baylor and a researcher involved with the LHC, will give an hour-long lecture, “What Did We Learn from the Large Hadron Collider?” at 4 p.m. today in E125 of the Baylor Sciences Building.

“Colloquium is for general physicists, and I will talk in a way that people who are not doing particle physics still understand why I am doing what I’m doing,” Hatakeyama said. “I want people to be interested.”

Hatakeyama will discuss two major areas of research taking place at the LHC – the continued search for the Higgs Boson subatomic particle, and the status of the hunt for dark matter particles.

The Higgs Boson particle, Hatakeyama said, is the last particle predicted by the standard model theory that has yet to be observed experimentally.

The particle has certain properties that could help to explain why all particles have mass.

“Still, we have not found [the Higgs Boson] in the LHC data yet,” Hatakeyama said, “but at least by the end of next year’s run, I’m pretty sure we can tell [if] the Higgs Boson exists as we expect, or we can tell that Higgs Boson does not exist as predicted by the theory.”

Hatakeyama said researchers at the LHC have a variety of different research interests in the data being produced, in the same way that he is interested in both the Higgs Boson and dark matter.

“People can use the same data to study very different aspects of particle physics,” Hatakeyama said.

Hatakeyama will also talk about LHC research in the area of dark matter, which he said helps explain the movement of the galaxy.

Dark matter, Hatakeyama said, would have to exist in order to explain the movement of stars and planets.

“Dark matter is known to exist through astronomical measurements,” Hatakeyama said, “by studying the galaxy rotation or by looking at skies.”

Dr. Anzhong Wang, professor of physics at Baylor and coordinator of the physics colloquium lectures this fall, said he is interested in hearing more about the research of dark matter.

“After so many years, we are still looking for the particles which are made of dark matter,” Wang said. “So this is very important.”

Hatakeyama said their data is coming from collisions between protons in the LHC that happen every 50 nanoseconds.

“We cannot record all these proton collisions,” Hatakeyama said, “and so we look for proton-proton collisions which look like Higgs being produced, or dark matter particles being produced.”

Hatakeyama said there are important implications to the understanding of physics whether they find the Higgs Boson and the dark matter particles or not.

“No matter what it is, the answer we will find will be very interesting,” Hatakeyama said.

Wang said the colloquium series is a great way for new research to be presented to students and faculty.

“I think it lets us see the best information from frontier research in physics,” Wang said.

Hatakeyama said through his lecture, he wants to introduce what he thinks is interesting in physics to other people in the department.

“I hope people can feel the excitement that particle physicists are having now,” Hatakeyama said. “I want to share that with everybody.”