The device hoping to answer the ultimate existential questions
The Vertex Locator detector at the University of Liverpool. Credit: McCoy Wynne, University of Liverpool

The first leg of the journey towards discovering some of the most enduring mysteries of the universe has been completed by the final piece of the all-new detector.

The VEO was assembled at the University ofLiverpool. It was assembled from components that had been made at different places.

It will try to answer the questions once installed.

  • Why is the universe made of matter, not antimatter?
  • Why does it exist at all?
  • What else is out there?

At the dawn of time and space, there is a fine balance.

The universe was in a balance between matter and antimatter after the Big bang.

These forms of matter should have been destroyed and left behind in a universe filled with light. Something was left to form the universe after all the odds were against it.

Matter and antimatter were created in the same quantities according to our best understanding of the physics. All of their mass should have been transformed into pure energy when they made contact in the early universe. One of the most profound mysteries in modern science is why and how matter survived the encounter.

The current theory is that the matter and antimatter were created as imperfect mirror images. Some of the reflections were not perfect. The difference could have given matter the edge.

Through the looking glass.

Scientists found a small crack in the mirror. The symmetry of the matter and antimatter reflection can be broken.

This results in a particle that is not the perfect opposite of its twin, and this may mean that one particle has an advantage over the other.

An antimatter particle may decay at a different rate if the symmetry is broken. It might explain why matter survived if there were more violations after the Bigbang.

It is possible that matter particles with broken symmetry took just a little bit longer to decay. It could explain how it was the last one to stand.

The deep unknown.

There are other mysteries in the universe. What might dark matter be?

The invisible type of matter called dark matter is the glue that keeps stars moving. We don't know what dark matter is, so it's possible that there are other particles and forces in the universe that we haven't seen.

It is possible to discover a completely different picture of nature to the one we have. New particles could announce themselves by subtly changing the way they behave, leaving small but visible traces in our data.

VELO has the beauty and charm.

The new VELO detector will be used to investigate the differences between matter and antimatter versions of particles. There are two types of quarks known as beauty and charm.

B and D mesons are produced during the Large Hadron Collider. They are difficult to study because mesons are very unstable and decay out of existence within a fraction of a second.

They transform into something else when they decay. Scientists believe that by studying these different decays and their properties, VELO data will help reveal the fundamental forces and symmetries of nature.

It is incredibly precise.

The VELO detector will be very close to where the particles collide. The particles travel a few millimeters after decay in less than a millionth of a millionth of a second. This close proximity will give the device the best chance of measuring their properties.

VELO will be able to take incredibly precise measurements of the particles as they decay.

Scientists can look for deviations that might hint at new particles in nature by comparing these readings to predictions made by the Standard Model. They can look for reasons why antimatter behaves differently.

Our understanding of why the universe is what it is could be changed by these deviations.

Building on the past.

The VELO may be new and cutting-edge, but it will continue the legacy of the previous VELO detector. The VELO has a state-of-the-art detector made up of grids of tiny squares of Silicon that gives high-resolution even in the challenging radiation environment near the LHC beams.

The lines of stacked Silicon detectors helped the LHCb make discoveries.

  • New states of matter.
  • Incredibly rare beauty quark decays.
  • Differences between matter and antimatter charm quarks.
  • The first intriguing indication of as yet unexplained behavior in beauty quark decay.

There are pictures of particle behavior.

The data captured by the old VELO detector has given us a glimpse of particle behavior. The new VELO detector is needed to turn this into a forensic investigation and make progress. It gives us a set of eyes that are precise and detailed. Quite simply, the VELO makes our whole physics program possible.

Unprecedented detail.

The new VELO will be able to capture these decays.

The upgraded software and super-fast electronics will allow beauty and charm quarks to be pinpointed in real-time. Scientists will be able to track and analyze decays that were previously too difficult to reconstruct.

The VELO detector is unique in that scientists can lift it out of the way as they prepare the particle beams. They can put it in place when the data is ready.

This allows scientists to capture clear information from the first particles that are not damaged by the beam.

Citation: The device hoping to answer the ultimate existential questions (2022, May 2) retrieved 2 May 2022 from This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.