The electroweak theory provided the first reliable estimates of the
masses of the W and Z particles--nearly 100 times the mass of the proton.
The most promising means of bringing about a physical interaction that
would release enough energy to form the particles was to cause a beam
of highly accelerated protons, moving through an evacuated tube, to
collide with an oppositely directed beam of antiprotons. CERN's circular
particle accelerator, four miles in circumference, was the first to
be converted into a colliding-beam apparatus in which the desired experiments
could be performed. Manipulation of the beams required a highly effective
method for keeping the particles from scattering out of the proper path
and hitting the walls of the tube. Van der Meer, in response to this
problem, devised a mechanism that would monitor the particle scattering
at a particular point on the ring and would trigger a device on the
opposite side of the ring to modify the electric fields in such a way
as to keep the particles on course.
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