物理学的暗面

帕萨迪纳—近一个世纪前,我们第一次发现了银河之外的世界,此后不出十年,就第一次提出了宇宙正在扩张的理论。自此以后,日新月异的技术发展给物理学、天文学、宇宙学和生命科学带来了革命性进步。

如今,物理学站在了新的门槛上。2012年7月4日,国际物理学界目睹了高能物理学史上划时代的发现:希格斯波色子。希格斯波色子假说由来已久,它是作为现实宇宙“蓝图”的基本粒子标准模型成立的必要条件。希格斯波色子为基本粒子提供质量;没有它,我们所理解的真实世界就不会有原子,不会有化学,也不会有生命。

此前,找到希格斯波色子只不过是一个理论预言。这个预言需要人类所尝试过的最大、最复杂的科学实验:建立粒子加速器——位于日内瓦的大型强子对撞机(简称LHC)。目前,依靠LHC所进行的研究有望引导我们理解从最小的基本粒子到宇宙学研究的全部物理学。2010—2012年间,LHC进行了最高能量的质子对撞;2015年将进行更高能量的对撞。

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