Of Particular Significance

GeV and TeV

G stands for Giga, or billion.

T stands for Tera, or trillion.

eV stands for “electron-volt”, and it is a measure of energy.

  • If an electron moves from one terminal of a nine-volt battery to the other, its motion energy will increase by nine electron-volts.

That’s it.

To get a sense of scale: The mass energy of a proton, m_proton times c-squared (c being the speed of light), is 0.938 GeV.  So if you took a proton and its anti-particle, an anti-proton, and allowed them to slowly meet and annihilate, they might sometimes turn into two photons (particles of light) and each of the two photons would have 0.938 GeV of energy.

An electron has 0.000511 GeV of mass energy.

A top quark, the heaviest elementary particle known so far, has about 172 GeV of mass energy.  That’s just a bit below the mass energy of an atom of gold.

The proton-antiproton collisions at the Tevatron are at 1.96 TeV, or 1960 GeV.  The proton-proton collisions at the LHC are currently (July 2011) at 7 TeV, or 7000 GeV.  The design of the LHC should allow for collision energies twice that high, 14 TeV, after the design flaws in the magnet-protection system found in 2008 are corrected in 2013.

29 Responses

  1. Hello Professor Strassler,

    Last year’s (September 23, 2020) experiment at ATLAS that produced W bosons by colliding two high-energy particles of light (photons) was astounding.

    From a layman’s perspective, it is hard to understand the energies used to do the research work done at CERN. A tremendous amount of energy was required to create matter from light.

    Would you mind telling me how many Megawatts of energy are consumed daily on a data-taking day at CERN?

    I’m trying to relate CERN’s energy consumption to something more accessible for a layperson to understand. That is: how many homes could be powered for a day, each day CERN is online?

    Thanks in advance for shedding some light on this for us.

  2. Why did the Higgs take so long to find? At 125 GeV they must have nearly stubbed their toes in it!!

  3. I’m not sure if you’re planning on writing this article in your own language, or English. I’m guessing from the name that you might speak/write English as a second language, which is fine. I helped to teach those learning the language years ago. It takes awhile to get really good at it because English is one of the hardest languages in the world to learn. Good luck!

  4. I m a student of standard seventh I love science n wanna know about physics more more more n more I love science…….
    Using it to give a article in school magazine.

    1. I’m assuming you want to write an article for your school magazine. Not sure what you’re saying. I’m a writer, and besides knowledge of your subject, having good English skills will help you get published. Learn as much as you can about what you want to write about, and also try and acquire the best English and grammar skills you can. Editors look at both when they decide who to publish. Good luck with your article.

  5. CERN are trying to produce the most powerful explosives for use by world powers! The heaviest materials in the universe. Strangelets, strange liquid and top quarks! When these have made there way to earths core and begin consuming it! Along the way we may make important discovery’s in physics! I can assure you they will not be able to reverse it once it begins the ice- nine extinction. They will continue to LIE fact! Please prove me wrong! Then you can continue to blow smoke up the mad scientists arses! Wile they make nuclear weapons because apparently we still don’t have the ability to destroy the human race and planet in one foul swoop but hey were working on it!

    1. you can’t prove a negative so what you are asking is impossible john. also if you look into particle decay rates, all irregular matter has incredibly small decay times(milliseconds or less). top quarks especially are ultra transient particles because they too massive to be a low energy state. Even if they made it to the core, the effects would be negligible as they are too few (i am pretty sure the thousands of feet of rock between the surface and the core would stop it first however).

  6. A question I have thought about for a long time — why is it that we are told the earth spins approximately at 1,000 km an hour yet clouds blowing in a 30km breeze keep passing by at 30kms, no -one feels the effect of 1,000 km wind sweeping them away?

    1. First, we are told this because it is true. Second, we don’t feel a wind at 1000 km/h since, after all this time, the atmosphere has been spun up along with the Earth.

      1. So Phillip because you make a statement ‘because it is true” and your in depth answer stating the atmosphere has been spun with the earth for all this time into sync. Why then can clouds travel at different speeds in different directions and differing heights. Surely the clouds would have only one direction available to travel, then if this was the case clouds would seem not too move if one looked at them. In case you struggle with an answer to part A; Try part B; How do planes flying east to west ever reach their destination? The earths rotation easily outpaces any commercial jet by 400kms an hour so what is the secret there, please share.

  7. This is a very interesting Blog. Keep up the good work. Although I have some science background, not an expert in this area, but I have a special interest in the Higgs Boson. Amazing and relevant discovery really. I wonder what Einstein would have made of this were he still alive? I know he was working on the Unified Field Theory when he died, and the Standart Model sounds quite close.

    1. I think the higs not quite as clever as they first thought all of a sudden its like a prolific particle and no longer keeping itself hidden! So I ask you did they just say we found the higs knowing it be too difficult to prove otherwise? In order to secure funding! I do know this, quantum lying. Is it or isn’t it a lie. There is no box, just a lie!

  8. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied
    on the video to make your point. You definitely know what youre
    talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting
    videos to your blog when you could be giving us something enlightening to read?

  9. Dmitry Brandt: Only portions of a particle and an anti-particle turn into new particles;some of the mass of the two particles is converted to energy.

  10. Hello I am Wessel Vendrig, I am interrested in kwantummechanics. I have some theory’s about annihilatie end de-annihilatie of electrons and positrons and the emission and de-emission of gamma-rays. Electromagnetic-rays go into mass. I have a theory that the rays (two photons) curl-up into an electron and positron. The magnetic component go’s from an 2-dimension ray into an 3-dimension ball. So this magnetic 3-D interaction may give the electron and positron it’s gravity. I see gravity as an diferent form of magnetisme. I have a PowerPoint of it.

    I hope some people will shoot on this.
    later, Wessel Vendrig

  11. Hi Matt, I left school on the day I turned 15 many years ago, but over the years i have developed a strong interest in Physics and Chemistry (I have even designed a new very logical layout for the Periodic Table of the Elements) I am finding it quite easy to follow online lectures on physics, but I have a lot to learn about its LANGUAGE…I look up Dirac’s (my hero) Equation and find MANY versions!!!..GRRRRR! Am I stupid or what? Would you mind corrresponding with me to help sort this stuff out? I DO have interesting ideas. All I need is a bit of tutoring and encouragement.

  12. Prof. Strassler,
    I’m thoroughly enjoying reading all the articles on your blog; keep up the great work! I have a question that’s been on my mind for a long time, and it’s about terminology:

    When a particle and antiparticle collide, why is it called “annihilation,” when in fact they don’t *really* annihilate (as in, turn into nothing), but simply transform into different particles? Don’t you think this is an unnecessary source of confusion for laypeople? Or is it just my pedantic attention to definitions?

    1. I agree that the language is confusing and in many ways inappropriate; it has historical roots, as do many misnomers. [There are worse examples, I assure you.] I think the term goes back to the 1930s back when people were first coming to grips with anti-particles. At that time the distinction between matter particles and light seemed more dramatic than it does now. Today we use very similar methods to describe both electrons and photons; back then they did not.

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A decay of a Higgs boson, as reconstructed by the CMS experiment at the LHC