Science & Technology

The “devil machine” spawned the mysterious particle X

The donut-shaped proton accelerator with a diameter of 27 kilometers Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is a supermachine or “devil machine” as some call it. Representatives of 100 countries, more than 10 thousand scientists and specialists, took part in the creation of the LHC and subsequent experiments. And now, scientists from the Laboratory of Nuclear Physics of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announced the discovery of particle X, a particle of unknown nature and structure which appeared in the course of an experiment that recreated the first moments of the existence of the Universe.

The discovery, citing a publication in the journal Physical Review Letters in their press release, impresses not only by its essence, but by the number of authors – there are more than five hundred of them out of more than a hundred scientific institutions in different countries.

The LHC is a donut-shaped proton accelerator with a diameter of 27 kilometers. It is buried at depths of 50 to 175 meters on the border between Switzerland and France. Lined with superconducting – accelerating particles – magnets cooled by liquid helium. Two beams of particles move along the ring in opposite directions and collide at almost the speed of light (0.9999 from it). Break into smithereens – into such a number of fragments, into which nothing could be broken before. The results are recorded using the huge detectors ALICE, ATLAS, CMS and LHCb.

It seems that they remembered everyone who in one way or another dealt with the CMC detector (Compact Muon Solenoid) Large Hadron Collider – LHC (Large Hadron Collider – LHC) – the cyclopean accelerator of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), located in Switzerland near Geneva. It was there that physicists recorded the appearance of the mysterious particles X. More precisely, X (3872), as they are called, with 3872 being the mass number of the “stranger”.

The particles appeared in the course of experiments to simulate quark-gluon plasma – a substance that was formed millionths of a second after the Big Bang, which, as is commonly believed, gave birth to our Universe. It suddenly arose about 13.7 billion years ago from some unimaginably tiny point – a singularity, as it is called.

CMS detector (Compact Muon Solenoid): 20 meters long, 15 meters in diameter.

At the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), researchers accelerated beams of heavy protons – lead nuclei – to subluminal speeds. They directed them towards each other, pushed them together, smashed them to smithereens and thereby returned matter to its “primitive state”. They crushed it to quarks and gluons – the particles that make up the building blocks of the universe – protons and neutrons.

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The LHC created the so-called quark-gluon plasma, an incredibly hot – up to 10 trillion degrees – “substance”, a protomatter or, “soup” in the figurative expression of physicists, which, allegedly was the nascent Universe in the first moments of life – 10 to minus 11 seconds after the Big Bang – even before protons, neutrons and atoms were formed in it.

From the quark-gluon soup, the experimenters “caught” the X particles formed in it. More precisely, they were detected by artificial intelligence, which analyzed 13 billion collisions of lead nuclei. The catch was 100 pieces.

Physicists have not yet figured out the structure of these “primitive” particles. They only know that their structure is not the same as the others, from which traditional matter is woven. Answers may be given over the next few years as they try to understand how particles X appeared and what role they played in the formation of the Universe. The research will probably give an answer to another question, no less important for understanding the structure of the universe: what the Universe is generally capable of.

It is possible that something else no less mysterious than the notorious Higgs boson and particles X will be shaken out of the universe.

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Meanwhile, physicists are not going to stop there, even if they don’t succeed in anything significant from this point onwards. CERN plans to build the Future Circular Collider – FCC where scientists intend to continue work after the LHC exhausts its capabilities.

Future Circular Collider

The FCC will be located in a 100-kilometer ring underground tunnel, which will be laid next to the 27-kilometer LHC ring.


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