What Are Nature’s Fundamental Building Blocks?
Our current understanding of the universe is that its fundamental building blocks are comprised of leptons (like the electron), quarks and gluons (that make protons and neutrons), and that each force is associated to a fundamental particle. These particles and their interactions form the basis of what is known as the Standard Model of particle physics. While this model describes almost everything around us, it does not explain what dark matter is or why we are made of matter and not anti-matter.
Dr. Alison Lister, Canada Research Chair in Experimental Particle Physics, is working on one of the largest scientific collaborations on the planet—the ATLAS particle physics experiment at the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator. At the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, circulating beams of protons are collided, creating the highest-energy, man-made collisions ever seen.
Lister believes that the heaviest of the quarks, the top quark, holds the key to finding signs of phenomena that cannot be explained by the Standard Model of particle physics she is scrutinizing data for signs of these new particles.
The answers Lister obtains from her research may completely change the way we view our universe.