Sarah Charley

Sarah Charley is senior writer in the Fermilab Office of Communication.

Physicists meet this week in Granada, Spain, to update the European Strategy for Particle Physics. Hundreds of scientists from around the globe associated with the European particle physics program are meeting ti discuss and evaluate what Europe’s next collaborative projects should be. The end goal is a consolidated strategy that European research institutions can use to guide their efforts for the next several years.

It’s not always about what you discover. The LHC research program is famous for discovering and studying the long-sought Higgs boson. But out of the spotlight, scientists have been using the LHC for an equally important scientific endeavor: testing, constraining and eliminating hundreds of theories that propose solutions to outstanding problems in physics, such as why the force of gravity is so much weaker than other known forces like electromagnetism.

One of the latest discoveries from the LHC takes the properties of photons beyond what your electrodynamics teacher will tell you in class. For most of the year, the LHC collides protons, but for about a month each fall, the LHC switches things up and collides heavy atomic nuclei, such as lead ions. The main purpose of these lead collisions is to study a hot and dense subatomic fluid called the quark-gluon plasma, which is harder to create in collisions of protons. But these ion runs also enable scientists to turn the LHC into a new type of machine: a photon-photon collider.

A re-examination of a particle discovered in 2015 has scientists debating its true identity. A recent analysis by the LHCb collaboration at CERN raises questions about the identity of this pentaquark—and may have taken scientists back to square one in the search for a particle that could shed light on questions about color.

Video games and physics have more in common than you might think. Both require a willingness to approach a problem from multiple different directions. Read three ways to succeed when dealing with both subatomic and virtual realms.

With the warmth of holiday cheer in the air, some physicists decided to hit the pub after a conference in December 2014 and do what many physicists tend to do after work: keep talking about physics. That evening’s topic of conversation: dark energy particles. The chat would lead to a new line of investigation at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Every second, the universe grows a little bigger. Scientists are using the LHC to try to find out why.

If you want to visit the Pasner family farm, you’ll need a truck with four-wheel drive. You’ll need to traverse 4 miles of bumpy dirt road deep into the countryside of Penn Valley, California. But once you arrive, you’ll be greeted by fields of organic onions and garlic, nestled between rolling grassy hills speckled with oak trees. For physicist Jake Pasner, this will always be home.

A proton describes its final moments in the Large Hadron Collider. During its second run, between 2015 and 2018, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN collided about 16 million billion particle pairs. This 3-minute animation is the story of one of them.