On the trail of quarks, supersymmetry and extra dimensions – particle physicists at DESY inquire into the very structure of our world. Using large accelerator facilities, supercomputers and leading-edge technology at the limits of the possible, they shed light on the secrets of the universe’s fundamental forces and building blocks. In pursuit of these goals, they work in national and international networks with colleagues from all over the world.
The unfathomable expanses of the universe – humankind has always been fascinated by the mysteries of the cosmos. How did everything begin? What are the building blocks of our world and how do they work? For centuries, we were limited to guessing and philosphizing about what holds the world together at its core. Today, however, we have the know-how and technologies to find answers to the central questions of humankind.
The HERA ring accelerator at DESY offered the world's sharpest view of the proton's interior. The pictures of the electron–proton collisions provided particle physicists with ground-breaking new insights into the smallest building blocks of matter and the fundamental forces of nature. HERA opened up entirely new vistas into the structure of the proton – a seething soup of quarks and gluons. The analysis of the data collected by HERA is in full swing and will bring further insights.
The Large Hadron Collider LHC at the CERN research centre in Geneva is the world's most powerful particle accelerator. The DESY scientists too are involved in the experiments at this "world machine". Together with colleagues from all over the world, they are using the giant ATLAS and CMS detectors to search for Higgs particles, supersymmetric particles and additional dimensions of the universe.
DESY scientists are also active in astroparticle physics, a fascinating field uniting methods and challenges from astrophysics, cosmology and particle physics to uncover the secrets of stellar explosions and the mysterious dark matter. To this end, the DESY researchers are participating in the construction of the world's largest particle detector, the neutrino telescope IceCube, in the eternal ice of the South Pole.
One thing is clear already today: the big mysteries of the universe can only be solved with the help of another mega machine. In addition to the proton accelerator LHC, this will require a linear accelerator colliding electrons and their antiparticles, the positrons. The superconducting technology for this International Linear Collider ILC has been developed by DESY and its international partners – high tech for one of the most exciting future projects of physics.