Fermilabs muon shot will see the suburban lab become the site of a revolutionary particle collider

The deepest mysteries of the universe may be solved in suburban Chicago.

That’s what some of the world’s leading minds are aiming for as they lay out a vision for the next generation of particle physics to take on the quest to better understand our cosmological origins.

An influential committee of scientists released a report this month suggesting that the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, known as Fermilab, could play a bigger role in that search in the coming years than it currently seems. America’s premier particle physics testing facility.

Researchers on the Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel, or P5, recommended the federal government step up support for an underground experiment that beams neutrinos from Fermilab more than 800 miles to South Dakota in hopes of learning more about the elusive subatomic particles.

They also called for exploring the possibility of building a revolutionary new particle collider more powerful than any that has created a groundbreaking device that they say would fit perfectly on the Fermilab campus.

The P5 report also noted the critical computing power at Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, which solidifies the Chicago area as a hub for the future of particle physics.

It’s no coincidence that Chicagoland did very well in this report, says University of Chicago astrophysics professor Abigail Vieregg, director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics. National labs allow us to be strong in this area and have a national presence. I feel fortunate to have Fermilab and Argonne behind us.

University of Chicago astrophysics professor Abigail Vieregg.

Vieregg is part of a panel enlisted by the US Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation to map priorities for the next decade under different budget scenarios.

After a series of public meetings to get ideas, the panel narrowed down their biggest question to what is the nature of the Higgs boson, dark matter or neutrinos? and offers possible paths toward addressing them.

Among their agenda items is strengthening Fermilabs Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, or DUNE, with an additional detector to track the particles’ journey across the Midwest.

Experts say neutrinos may be the key missing piece of the puzzle in explaining why equal amounts of matter and antimatter did not annihilate each other when the universe formed in the Big Bang and therefore how we existed 13 billion years ago.

The study of the universe at its largest scale is intricately tied to the smallest scale of the universe, Vieregg said. Measurements made by particle colliders can directly connect to measurements we make looking back in time as we observe the universe.

Work continues on DUNE, but the proposal to build a first-class particle collider will take decades to come to fruition.

The muon collider will be more efficient than the proton and electron colliders that researchers currently use to race particles around tubes that approach the speed of light, then smash them together to see what happens and possibly create other bags. particles.

A muon g-2 storage ring imaged at Fermilab.

A muon g-2 storage ring imaged at Fermilab.

But the MEW-on muons are pretty elusive on their own, so it’s up to creative physicists to figure out how we can do it, says Vieregg, who estimates such a device would be 10 times more powerful. much stronger than the current standard bearer in the field. : the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland.

The device took more than 10 years and $4 billion to build, the cost of which was shared by several European countries.

The P5 report recommends researching and developing a cost estimate and construction timelines for a potential muon collider, with researchers noting that it is likely to be roughly the size of the Fermilab campus.

At the end of the trail is an unparalleled global facility on US soil, the researchers write. This is our moon shot.

Northwestern University physics and astronomy professor Michael Schmitt says it’s a valuable investment because that’s the good part of humanity. The desire to understand things is what drives us here. It is neither glory nor comfort. We really just want to know why the universe is the way it is. Is there anything better we can invest in? Maybe health care, general education. But most people also feel that there must be some wonderful things to do in society in addition to working on the basic problems of humanity.

Vieregg said the creation of an unprecedented test site could lead to other practical advances.

When you push the boundaries of science and technology when you work in a way that most people don’t work you stumble upon things that change lives, he said.

Geza Gyuk, senior director of astronomy at the Adler Planetarium, compares the search to art.

Examining it is something that speaks to who we are, says Gyuk. Learning about where we come from. Why do we write poetry? It doesn’t put food on the table, but it speaks to our human nature. This is what makes us human.

Geza Gyuk, senior director of astronomy at the Adler Planetarium.

Geza Gyuk, senior director of astronomy at the Adler Planetarium.

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Image Source : chicago.suntimes.com

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