UK physicists have completed the first crucial element of an experimental device designed to probe the forces that shape our Universe. The Atlas experiment will explore the fundamental properties of matter and look for "new physics" beyond the limits of our current understanding. It will be housed at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle accelerator, due to begin operating in 2007. The LHC could create mini-black holes as particles collide at high energies. And researchers are confident they will be able to detect the most sought after particle in physics: the Higgs boson, which explains why all other particles have mass.
The finished element is the first of the four barrels that will form the central part of the SemiConductor Tracker (SCT). When complete, Atlas will be 25m high (as tall as a five-storey building), 46m long and will weigh about 7,000 tonnes. The SCT will track the movement of particles as they pass through the thousands of silicon wafers with which the barrels are populated.
Nifty! They're looking for evidence of supersymmetry as well as the Higgs boson. Everyone's looking for the Higgs boson because the standard atomic model requires it. If you find a Higgs boson, please call any university Physics department and hand it in, they'll love you for it.