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Physics at Fermilab
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Collider Experiments at Fermilab

Beams of protons and antiprotons collide at nearly the speed of light in Fermilab's Tevatron accelerator. Millions of times a second, protons and antiprotons burst into showers of secondary particles: quarks, electrons, muons, neutrinos, ... there are more than a hundred possibilities. By studying the particles, physicists learn about the elementary building blocks and fundamental forces that determine the nature of matter—and the ultimate structure and evolution of the universe.

The 5,000-ton CDF detector before its move into the accelerator tunnel.
Physicists need more than accelerators in order to "see" high energy collisions. That's why scientists have designed and built particle detectors, huge "cameras" that can take more than a million "snapshots" of particle collisions every second. They can count particles, identify their tracks, measure their energy, record their time of flight and distinguish one particle from another. Detectors can be as tiny as a computer chip or as huge as a house, containing many thousands of tons of material.

At Fermilab, two huge detectors called CDF and DZero, both consisting of many different detection subsystems, are located in the Tevatron beamline. The particle collisions take place at the centers of these collider detectors. The detectors observe the collisions, recognize the particles that come flying out and record all information for later analysis..

Live collision events

The significance of E=mc2

More about the detectors

Scientists working on the DZero detector.
By analyzing the stored data from the detectors, physicists make discoveries about the fundamental nature of matter and energy. Physicists at Fermilab used data from CDF (the Collider Detector at Fermilab) and DZero, the Laboratory's two collider detectors to discover the top quark. Now, they will study the results of many more collisions not only to learn more about the top but to look for new phenomena, including supersymmetry, extra dimensions and a mass-carrying particle called the Higgs boson.

CDF homepage

DZero homepage

last modified 2/22/2002   email Fermilab