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Building a machine to hunt dark matter (pictures)

Matter and antimatter would meet at nearly light speed in the International Linear Collider, an ambitious multibillion-dollar project to probe the nature of dark matter and energy.

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Tim Hornyak
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1 of 6 ILC/Fermilab Visual Media Services

Superconducting cavities

The publication of blueprints for the International Linear Collider (ILC) was marked by ceremonies in Japan, Switzerland, and the U.S. on Wednesday, with scientists hoping the multibilllion-dollar machine could shine a light on the mystery of what makes up most of the universe.

These Tesla 9-cell 1.3GHz superconducting radio-frequency cavities, working at temperatures near absolute zero, will accelerate electrons and positrons toward the ILC detectors.

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2 of 6 ILC GDE

19-mile particle smasher

The ILC, which could be built in the Japanese mountains, would consist of two linear accelerators facing each other over a distance of 31 kilometers (19.26 miles), as well as two damping rings, each with a circumference of 6.7 kilometers (4.1 miles).
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3 of 6 ILC/Fermilab/Sandbox Studio

ILC tunnels

This artist's impression shows what the tunnels in the ILC might look like. The accelerators would fire electrons and positrons at nearly the speed of light, and involve energies up to 500 billion electronvolts (GeV), with a possible upgrade to 1 trillion electronvolts (TeV).
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4 of 6 ILC/Norman Graf, SLAC/Sandbox Studio

SiD detector

This artist's impression shows a view of the silicon detector (SiD) concept for the ILC. The SiD, which measures about 39 feet on each side, is one of three detectors for the ILC and uses particle flow calorimetry to measure energy emissions from the electron-positron collisions.
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5 of 6 ILC/Norman Graf

Neutralino

This simulation shows the anticipated signature of a neutralino, a hypothetical particle predicted by supersymmetry that is a candidate for dark matter, the unseen hypothesized matter that makes up much of the universe.
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6 of 6 CERN

The 'God particle'

This 3D view from CERN's CMS detector in 2012 "shows characteristics expected from the decay of the SM Higgs boson to a pair of photons (dashed yellow lines and green towers). The event could also be due to known standard model background processes."

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