Experiments at the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest and highest energy particle accelerator, will continue for about two more decades, Rolf Heuer, director general of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), has said.
“Only after over 20 years of data-gathering and data analyses will it have completed its duty,” he added.
“We will investigate in detail the properties of the Higgs Boson, and look for ‘new’ physics, i.e. physics beyond the standard model of particle physics. We should realise that more than 95% of matter and energy in the universe are still unknown to us because the standard model describes less than 5%. There still is a lot of work to be done at the LHC,” he told HT in an exclusive interview.
Rolf is one of the speakers at the Indian Science Congress, which will be inaugurated in Kolkata on January 3. In July last year, scientists at CERN — a multinational research centre in Geneva — had revealed that they had discovered a particle consistent with the long-sought Higgs Boson, which would help explain why particles have mass, and fill a glaring hole in what is currently the best theory for describing how the universe works.
On India becoming an associate member of CERN, Rolf said he would find out more about the issue during his visit to India.
“I think associate membership of CERN is a great opportunity not only for physicists but also for engineers from India. And science without engineering is unthinkable,” he added.
Acknowledging that India was like a ‘historic father’ of the Higgs Boson project, he said that all Indian scientists and engineers in his team were highly committed and “excellent”.
Highlighting the contribution of Indian scientist SN Bose, he said: “There are two ‘types’ — two ‘families’ — of particles: Fermions, named after Italian physicist Fermi, and Bosons, named after Bose. This is the best proof of the high international recognition that Bose’s work has, and is still receiving in the scientific community. As a consequence, we physicists are reminded every day of Bose’s work and influence.”
Stressing the importance of scientific research, he said, “...the well-being of society is based on science, on the results of research and innovation. Research helps bring us out of economic crises.”
But why is India still lagging behind in science despite having a pool of talent? “This is difficult for me to judge,” Rolf said, “It is probably due to lack of opportunities.”