Germany builds a new particle accelerator.

FAIR: New accelerator - Comment on 2012 July 28 (2)

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2012 July 28 (2)

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Shortly after physicists at the Geneva particle accelerator LHC celebrated the discovery of the Higgs boson, the go-ahead was given for the building of a further large accelerator. Read more:

Last month there was 2012 Jun 16 Germany: Particle accelerator in Darmstadt to solve the last secrets of the universe and today I now again read something about this.

Here excerpts from this:



New accelerator

Germany builds a new particle accelerator. Researched are to be among other things how the "strong force" forces elementary particles to form compounds and how cosmic radiation acts on satellites or vehicles in space.

Shortly after physicists at the Geneva particle accelerator LHC celebrated the discovery of the Higgs boson, the go-ahead was given for the building of a further large accelerator. The plant named FAIR (Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research) comes into being in the coming six years at the GSI Helmholtz centre for heavy ion research in Darmstadt. It costs 1.6 billion euros. The greatest part pays the state of Hesse and the Federation: With 526 million euros the federal ministry for research approved for FAIR the highest aid decision of its history. The rest of the costs are shared by the partners of nine states.

When the plant is completed, it consists of a double ring accelerator with 1100 metre circumference, 24 buildings and tunnel sections, several storage rings and experimentation stations.

Here the researchers want to bring ions to high speeds and shoot afterwards into material samples. But is not the most powerful ring accelerator of the world, the LHC, sufficient? "The aims are clearly different." So FAIR is to accelerate all sorts of loaded particles, including antiprotons. At the LHC on the other hand the main emphasis is on the acceleration of protons. Moreover the Darmstadt machine works with lower radiation energies but higher radiation intensity and can investigate other questions.

Something is to be found out about the "strong force", one of the four fundamental interactions in nature. This force forces certain elementary particles the quarks to combine to pairs or groups of three. In the process neutrons and protons among others come into being, the building blocks of the nuclei of atoms. "We want to know how quarks are bound together and in which way their union gets its mass."

Do not have physicists just confirmed the Higgs mechanism, which explains how elementary particles get their mass? "With compound particles like protons and neutrons something is to be added. They get their mass only with one per cent through the Higgs mechanism." The rest comes into being through movement and interaction energies of the quarks bound to each other. "That is a quite strange behaviour which we want to research in Darmstadt."

The physicists plan to accelerate antiprotons to high speeds and then have them collide with their counter parts, the protons. This produces among others charmonium particles, which consists of one charm quark and one charm anti-quark. The charmonium states can again reveal something about the strong force, which forces quarks together, the researchers think. Also the question where the mass of protons, neutrons and other assembled particles comes from, the antiprotons experiments are to settle. Moreover the physicists would like to generate new forms of matter with antiprotons, for instance gluon balls a kind of energy ball and quark matter.

The particle accelerator FAIR is to also serve applications like nuclear fusion, which might be used in future as source of energy. "We want to accelerate uranium ions and then shoot into a sample of material." In the process a gas from loaded particles comes into being, a plasma. The higher the speed of the point of entry the hotter and densely is the plasma. When the results exceed a certain threshold the atom nuclei start to fuse: inertia fusion starts. "We are interested whether one can cause this state by means of particle bombardment for instance with hollow cylinder shaped rays of ions, which let the plasma implode." Such a technology could be an alternative to the expensive high-performance lasers, with which one generates fusion plasmas today.

The physicists also hope for new knowledge about the risks of particle rays. In order to research how cosmic radiation affects satellites or space crafts, they want to shoot with heavy ions upon components of space crafts and see how the technique reacts to the bombardment and which methods of shielding are particularly effective. It also can be investigated how ions interact with the walls of the space-ship and in which extent secondary radiation comes into being in the process, which is potentially dangerous for astronauts.

It is not the first time that FAIR is in the headlines. Already 2007 the signal for the construction had been announced. At that time the representatives of the partner states signed a common communique; from the German side the federal minister Annette Schavan and the then Hesse Prime Minister Roland Koch. But now, with the 526 million decision of the federal research ministry, the construction really seems to start.


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