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Post Higgs, Cern turns spotlight on dark matter

world Updated: Jul 08, 2012 19:59 IST

Post Higgs boson's discovery, touted as the biggest leap in physics, scientists at CERN are preparing to turn the spotlight on dark matter.

Physicists believe dark matter which binds the universe, makes up 84% of all matter and is everywhere, but it has never been seen as it does not produce or reflect light.

Scientists hope that a 10-fold boost to the power of particle beams being smashed inside Cern Large Hadron Collider will allow them to create and detect dark matter. The LHC is expected to receive a 1.2 billion pound upgrade for this purpose, the Telegraph reports.

Although there is still much work to be done on the Higgs boson, the milestone has left many at Cern worried that the public and funders will feel their work is now complete. But other experiments will continue until the end of this year, when the LHC will close for 20 months for repairs.

The LHC works by smashing protons, subatomic particles to produce temperatures of more than four trillion degrees Celsius, 250,000 times hotter than sun's core.

Detectors around the ring identify the debris thrown out from these collisions. Scientists hope that the 2020 upgrade, dubbed superLHC, will let them see some of the rarest particles of all.

Phil Allport of the University of Liverpool, UK lead for one of Cern detectors, ATLAS, said: "It will allow us to greatly extend the reach to search for new physics as well as make some very precise measurements, for example, to potentially address the nature of dark matter. Essentially we will be looking for a major imbalance in the particles being emitted after a collision."