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Hadron research: What holds the world together

The new accelerator centre FAIR (Facility for Antiproton and Ion Research) in Darmstadt will provide novel insights into the structure of matter and evolution of the universe for research with antiprotons and ion beams. Within the billion-euro project, Forschungszentrum Jülich is responsible for construction of the high-energy storage ring (HESR) and will contribute its know-how in handling protons and antiprotons as well as its experience with accelerator and hadron physics from the COSY accelerator at Jülich. Physicists hope to acquire new insights about processes between elementary particles, such as quarks and gluons.

FAIR will be used to produce cosmic matter in the laboratory. That is to say, scientists from all over the world will be moving into new dimensions in matter, such as antimatter or hot stellar matter. They will develop new supercomputers for their basic research and they expect to achieve breakthroughs in nanomaterials as well as in biomedical applications.
It will thus be possible to explore antimatter at FAIR. Researchers intend to solve the puzzle of why antimatter is rarely found in the universe, except for minute residues, and why the matter familiar to us, of which we are made and which surrounds us, is "preferred".

At FAIR, researchers will also seek new forms of matter in order to track down this mysterious dark matter. Although dark matter accounts for a far larger proportion of the universe than the matter familiar to us, we are still unable to directly observe it.

Scientists also intend to use the planned facility to study how stars explode and what processes are involved. According to current ideas, chemical elements originate or have originated in gigantic stellar explosions. That is say, all matter – even ourselves – is ultimately composed of star dust, the remains of exploded stars.

FAIR can be used to generate the ion beams that occur naturally in cosmic radiation. This enables scientists to study the impact of ion beams on materials and tissue samples. In this way, they would like to test components for satellite technology and perform radiation biology experiments for manned space missions or new medical applications.