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The CERN Particle Accelerator: Revitalizing Physics

A New Approach to Particle Acceleration

Edda Gschwendtner is leading a groundbreaking experiment at CERN, the renowned particle physics laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland. Her experiment, called AWAKE, utilizes plasma wakefield accelerators to create a wave of plasma and propel electrons along it.

Unlike traditional colliders, AWAKE and its compact counterparts have the potential to reach much stronger accelerations over shorter distances. In fact, Gschwendtner claims that these plasma wakefield accelerators can achieve up to 1000 times more powerful accelerations compared to larger machines like CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

With successful trials in accelerating electrons over short distances, AWAKE is now preparing to push for higher energies.

The Quest for New Physics

Since the discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012, the field of particle physics has experienced a lull in major breakthroughs. Researchers are therefore seeking innovative machines and approaches to further our understanding of the fundamental laws of the universe.

By harnessing plasma wakefield technology, AWAKE offers a fresh approach to exploring reality and uncovering new physics. Its compact size and potential for powerful acceleration make it an exciting prospect for the future of particle physics.

A Journey into the Depths

Accessing Gschwendtner’s experiment involves descending 50 meters below ground level in a small building at CERN. After passing through several security doors, visitors must travel along a kilometer-long tunnel, often utilizing the conveniently parked white bikes inside.

Despite its modest appearance, this underground facility harbors immense potential for advancing our understanding of the universe and pushing the boundaries of physics.

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