Searching for the Wild Higgs

If found, it will be the capstone of the 'standard model' of particles and fields

4 min read

31 December 2003--A machine designed to uncover the ultimate nature of matter is beginning to take shape beneath a Geneva suburb, straddling the border of Switzerland and France. Two weeks ago, shortly before the holiday shut-down of the European Center for Nuclear Research in Geneva, better known as CERN, the first magnets were installed in a tunnel that will connect an existing accelerator with a particle collider being built from scratch. The first dipole magnets for the collider will be installed in February. When the whole machine is completed and operational in about three years, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC)�named for the class of relatively large particles it will smash together�will be poised to answer truly fundamental questions, some of which have troubled humanity in one form or another since the days of the pre-Socratic philosophers.

Why does a material universe exist? Why, in particular, does matter hang together the way it does? How is it that matter predominates over antimatter in the universe, so that it is matter we are made of? What is the mysterious ”dark matter” that eludes detection, and what about the dark energy that seems to be accelerating the expansion of the universe?

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Two men fix metal rods to a gold-foiled satellite component in a warehouse/clean room environment

Technicians at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems facilities in Redondo Beach, Calif., work on a mockup of the JWST spacecraft bus—home of the observatory’s power, flight, data, and communications systems.

NASA

For a deep dive into the engineering behind the James Webb Space Telescope, see our collection of posts here.

When the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) reveals its first images on 12 July, they will be the by-product of carefully crafted mirrors and scientific instruments. But all of its data-collecting prowess would be moot without the spacecraft’s communications subsystem.

The Webb’s comms aren’t flashy. Rather, the data and communication systems are designed to be incredibly, unquestionably dependable and reliable. And while some aspects of them are relatively new—it’s the first mission to use Ka-band frequencies for such high data rates so far from Earth, for example—above all else, JWST’s comms provide the foundation upon which JWST’s scientific endeavors sit.

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