Using Particle Physics to Answer Life’s Mysteries

Using Particle Physics to Answer Life’s Mysteries

Particle physics is a branch of physics that studies the elementary constituents of matter and radiation, and the interactions between them. Many of these elementary particles do not occur under normal circumstances in nature. They have to be created and detected during energetic collisions of other particles, as is done in particle accelerators. Modern particle physics research is focused on subatomic particles.


In an average day, nearly everyone uses products or technologies that stem from or were improved with particle physics. But apart from these applications, particle physics can hopefully answer one of the greatest questions of mankind- What is life made of?


Northeastern University physics professors Emanuela Barberis and Toyoko Orimoto are gearing up to convene like-minded people who are searching for more.


CERN is a research organization that runs the biggest particle physics lab on earth. Inside CERN, a massive machine called the Large Hadron Collider had been hurling particles at one another, letting them smash together, and measuring such things as their momentum and energy levels.

“We recreate conditions that are very close to the Big Bang,” Barberis says.

But Barberis, Orimoto, and their fellow physicists, George Alverson, Darien Wood, and Louise Skinnari, keep pushing on, since there are only more questions to be answered.


To tap into these still-unexplained phenomena, particle physicists need new strategies, new ideas, and new plans. And, of course, a machine that collides a billion particles every second—at nearly the speed of light—needs a break.


Scientists welcome these shutdowns, too, since constant, large-scale tests generate lots of data that then needs to be analyzed and discussed. Every two years, they come together at a conference called the Meeting of the Division of Particles & Fields of the American Physical Society.


This year, Barberis and Orimoto are your co-hosts. And Northeastern is your home base.


Ishwarya Varshitha

Ishwarya Varshitha
Ishwarya Varshitha

A voracious reader making a living as an editor in the Media Industry, who in her spare time loves to test her skills as a writer, using words to make the mundane reality more fascinating and the fantastic world of fiction more relatable.

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