Atlas is one of the general purpose detectors which will start operation in 2008 at the the CERN proton collider, to study the Higgs boson.
Unifying the elementary constituants of matter and their interactions.
Atlas is one of the two general purpose detectors installed at the LHC scheduled to start operation in mid-2008. Atlas brings experimental physics into new territory. Discovering new processes and particles that change our understanding of energy and matter would be most exciting. Atlas will learn about the basic forces that have shaped our universe since the beginning of time and that will determine its fate. Fundamental questions arrise: Why do fundamental particles have such different masses ? How do particles acquire their mass ? To explain these mysteries, theories predict a new particle, the Higgs boson whose field could give mass to all the other particles. The existence of new particles is conjectured in models beyond the Standard Model, one of which is Super Symmetry; it postulates new particles related to the known particles where a matter particle (fermion) has a force carrier (boson) as partner, and vice versa. Possible implications are extra dimensions in space-time and mini black holes.
At the very beginning of the universe, equal amounts of matter and antimatter existed. If matter and antimatter were exact miror images of each other, they would have completely annihilated to leave only energy. But why was some of the matter left over to create galaxies, the solar system with our planet, and... us ? Atlas will explore the tiny diffeence that exists between matter and antimatter. LHC will recreate the conditions of the universe just after the Big Bang to understand why the universe is like it is today. Atlas will investigate why the matter of the universe is dominated by an unknown type called dark matter. If constituants of dark matter are new particles, Atlas should discover them and elucidate the mystery of dark matter.