The innermost secrets of matter and energy
are hidden in the world of fundamental particles. These
particles compose all matter and the laws they obey apparently
apply at all times and places in the universe. The goal of
particle physics is to map out this world and discover the rules
that govern its behavior. This knowledge has far reaching
consequences for our understanding of what the universe is and
how it came to be.
Physics, astronomy and mathematics have had
phenomenal success in discovering simple laws and symmetry
principles, which govern matter and mathematical structures at
their most fundamental levels. These triumphs have unraveled
the behavior of matter at the smallest scales, have had immense
consequences for understanding the history of the universe, and
have led to the development of the basic mathematical models
needed for such understanding.
Thanks to new experimental findings brought
to light at particle accelerators worldwide, the last decades
have given rise to a radically new and simple picture of nature
on the most fundamental level, known as the standard model (SM)
of Particle Physics. According to the SM, matter in every form
is assembled from a few basic building blocks called quarks and
The SM describes the remarkable discoveries
made in particle physics and is consistent with all laboratory
observations. It not only provides a framework for describing
and understanding the world around us but also provides insights
into the first instants of creation of the universe – the Big
Bang. The SM provides a unification of the strong, weak, and
electromagnetic forces and hints at the possibility of
incorporating gravity into quantum theory.
KOPIO is among a new generation of
international collaborative projects, experiments and particle
accelerators, conceived to explore the interactions of
elementary particles at mass and energy scales not achieved
since the time of the Big Bang. Experiments now in progress or
under construction will likely discover the Higgs particle,
which is believed to be responsible for generating the masses of
fundamental particles. This new research may reveal the origin
of the symmetry violation responsible for the dominance of
matter over anti-matter in the known universe. In addition, this
research may be capable of shedding light on the “dark matter"
in the universe, which apparently constitutes 90% or more of its
mass yet produces no measurable radiation.
> CONTINUE: Symmetry Violation
January 24, 2006
by Gary Schroeder.