Research news

Lord of the Elementary Particles

Publish Date: 30.04.2020

Category: Researchers in focus , ERC & MSCA

Elementary particles are like Lego bricks from which life is composed. They are everywhere around us, they are in us, they are us, in fact they are everything we see and even what we do not see – dark matter. But there are few testing grounds where we can observe what they are like, where they hide, how they behave. One such facility is the SuperKEK accelerator in Tsukuba in Japan, which is the second home of elementary particle physicist Peter Križan.

He would be there now, if the virus had not prevented him getting there. Each morning he would let himself into the control room and look over what the detectors had identified, and with his fellow scientists he would release swarms of electrons and their anti-particles, positrons, in opposite directions through the tubes of the accelerator, guiding them by command into forceful collisions. They would then observe the traces of their debris in the detector and seek evidence for the existence of new particles, perhaps those very ones that make up dark matter – a mysterious matter that accounts for a lot more than half of all matter in the universe, although we cannot see it, we do not know what particles it is made of, and yet it directs the movement of galaxies, planets and suns.
The discovery of such particles, which is being pursued by a lot of groups around the world, would not just be yet another in a series of discoveries. Such a discovery would also not be a ‘mere’ achievement earning a Nobel Prize. The capture of elusive dark matter particles would be comparable to Einstein’s equations and the definition of the standard model. “Physics is at a fork in the road: the standard model is a fantastic theory, but on the other hand it cannot explain certain phenomena. We are therefore looking for cracks in this theory, and we physicists have found them in our accelerator at Tsukuba as well as at CERN and in California. Now we just need a sufficiently large sample of data to prove that we are not just talking about random discrepancies,” said Križan in a radio interview on the FrekvencaX show.
The potential of the Belle II experiment, the name given to the project at the KEK accelerator in Tsukuba, where Peter Križan is the technical coordinator, was recently recognised by the committee of the European Research Council, which allocated to Križan EUR 2.5 million to form a group and continue the research.

The article was published in the newspaper Delo, 30.4.2020. The author of the article: Miha Pribošič, photo: FMF UL.
Full text:
FMF-RVO-križan_eng 042020.pdf


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