The most widely accepted theory of the realm of the infinitely small, the Standard Model, has been built starting from the early speculations by Democritus on the atomic nature of matter.
But how do scientists observe the world of particle physics?
Linear accelerator schemeThink about how you observe the world around you: the light of the sun acts like a conuous beam of probes striking an object, the probes that reflected into your eye reveal the world around you. A high energy experiment is more or less the same thing: a particle accelerator produces the "probes" that are sent on a suitable "target" before being collected by a detector, an instrument that can "see "elementary particles that pass through it.
In practice since the 50s the probes and targets are elementary particles accumulated in large rings that make them collide tens of billions of times second. This fundamental concept about colliders has been developed also thanks to the ideas of the researchers of National Laboratories of Frascati that are proposing the superB factory.
Circular accelerator scheme
A particle accelerator is therefore a powerful microscope that allows us to understand the fundamental constituents of matter. Moreover these particles, the fundamental building blocks of matter as we understand it today, where the only constituents of the early universe just a few instants after the Big Bang, when the "normal" atoms and molecules did not exist.
There are two main approaches to understand the laws that govern the fundamental constituents of nature: build accelerators at the high energy frontier, like the LHC at Geneva, or study with high precision known phenomena in order to discover the small violations or simmetries that nature is hiding from us. Violations and symmetries are important clues for scientists necessary to understand and write simple equations describing the microscopic world. For this reason at the end of the 90s scientists have built "Particle Factories", which are accelerators build to study in great detail rare or well known phenomena. The SuperB is one of the most important and ambitoius of these projects.
SLAC Stanford Linear Collider National Laboratory (USA)
High Energy Laboratory Accelerator Research Organisation (KEK) of Tsukuba (Japan)