Particle physics is concerned with both the basic constituents of matter and their interactions, and with the fundamental properties of space and time. The greatest tool for this exploration is the particle accelerator, first developed in the 1960s, which collides particles together at high energies comparable to those found in the early universe, to reveal their constituents and create new particles in the process.
Over the years, ever more powerful accelerators have led to the discovery of quarks — the elementary particles contained in protons and neutrons — and other particles responsible for binding them together as well as particles responsible for radioactive decay. These findings have laid the foundation for the Standard Model of particle physics.
The Standard Model has proved remarkably successful: all experimental data from accelerators have so far validated its predictions. However, one of its most important predictions — that particles derive their masses from the hypothesized Higgs particle — has yet to be verified. One of the primary aims of the most powerful accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva, Switzerland, is to detect the Higgs particle. Work is underway to develop the mathematical, experimental and computational techniques needed to recognize it1.