• Question: What are the scientists at CERN researching at the moment and what is the latest particle they discovered. I remember visiting the particle accelerator when i lived in Geneva. It was a really fascinating experience!

    Asked by Finnian to Kathryn on 8 Nov 2018.
    • Photo: Kathryn Coldham

      Kathryn Coldham answered on 8 Nov 2018:

      Hello Finnian, great question!

      Scientists at CERN are researching a huge range of different things! For example, me and group I work with are using coding to research into just one of the ways that a very heavy particle, called the top quark, is made in the CMS detector at CERN. The top quark is about 170 times heavier than the proton, making it interesting to study its properties and how it interacts with other particles. Other CERN scientists are further studying other types of particle. One example is the Higgs boson, which gives other particles their masses and was discovered in 2012 by scientists working on the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN. Another example of CERN research is the hunt for a dark matter particle. Dark matter accounts for about 27% of the universe and explains why different galaxies have been observed to rotate faster than expected (this mysterious dark matter is theorised to provide galaxies with extra mass, causing for them to spin faster). Dark matter does not reflect, absorb of emit light which makes it hard to find!

      I believe that the latest particles discovered were two new types of baryon by the LHCb experiment at CERN. A “baryon” is the name given to particles that are made up of 3 smaller particles called quarks (quarks are point-like so there are no smaller particles that make them up, so they are a type of particle called an “elementary” particle). The scientists working on the LHCb experiment announced the discovery this year (here is more information if you’d like to find out more: https://home.cern/news/news/physics/lhcb-experiment-discovers-two-perhaps-three-new-particles).

      Feel free to ask any more questions! 🙂