LHCb experiment specializes in investigating the slight differences between matter and antimatter by studying a type of particle called the "beauty quark", or "b quark".
What does the acronym stand for?:
Large Hadron Collider beauty
The Large Hadron Collider beauty (LHCb) experiment specializes in investigating the slight differences between matter and antimatter by studying a type of particle called the “beauty quark”, or “b quark”.
Large Hadron Collider
About your project:
LHCb is one of the biggest experiments of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. It is designed to explore what happened just after the Big Bang.
Collider (LHC). LHCb is unique because it is designed specifically to study particles known as ‘beauty’ quarks. With particles containing beauty quarks, we can study the difference between matter and antimatter and understand why the Universe we live in only has matter in it. We believe matter and antimatter were created in equal quantities during the Big Bang, but now we only see matter left over. What happened to all of the antimatter? That’s what we want to know!
When matter and antimatter meet, they interact and annihilate each other – this means both of them get destroyed. If we had equal amounts of each, then we should see nothing left over in the end. We want to know if we can find a difference between matter and antimatter that would let one survive over the other. Our current theories don’t explain the difference we see!
The data we collect using LHCb is analysed by scientists like us and we study it carefully to find hints of what we call ‘new physics’ – which is physics we don’t expect or can’t explain with our best theory!
Current project status:
LHCb prides itself as being the “fun” experiment at CERN and it’s known for putting on a good party! It’s one of the four main experiments on the Large Hadron Collider, though not as well-known as its larger neighbours ATLAS and CMS which both discovered the Higgs Boson in 2012. However, we believe it’s now our turn to step into the spotlight. You see, as nice as it is to experimentally confirm what our current best theory of particle physics (the Standard Model) predicts, we know that there must be something more than this model (for instance Dark Matter). One of LHCb’s specialities is being able to make very precise measurements and so is in an excellent position to look for differences between these measurements and our predictions. Finding such signs of “New Physics” would be fantastic as it would help us to build an ever better theory of the universe.
Just before Christmas, we unfortunately received some bad news. For some time, we had been getting quite excited about some measurements [https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-56491033] which seemed to disagree with our predictions (this could have been our time to shine!). In our model we would expect swapping out electrons for muons (their heavier cousins) to have no effect on our reaction rate, but this seemed to not be the case. However, some new results based on updated experimental data showed that this disagreement went away. Sometimes this is just the way science goes and we should still be proud of the improved precision we have been able to achieve on the measurements [https://home.web.cern.ch/news/news/physics/lhcb-brings-leptons-line].
Some disagreements with our predictions do though remain (so all hope is not lost!):
In the New Year, a load of UK researchers working on LHCb descended on the beautiful Scottish city of Edinburgh for our annual meeting. This was the first time we had been able to do this in 4 years and it was a fantastic opportunity to meet up with colleagues and give our young scientists an opportunity to present their work. We also had a meeting to discuss how our detector will look in the future, now we’ve finished the installation of the most recent upgrade.