The team of scientists working at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) facility has reported to the press that the process of restarting the massive experimental mechanism has begun though it won’t finish until sometime next year. The world’s most complicated system of machines will have to be restarted in pieces to ensure that each is operating properly before the next can be brought online.
The Large Hadron Collider is best known for detecting the Higgs boson in 2012. Nicknamed the God particle, the subatomic Higgs helps explain why much of the mass in the universe exists. The discovery garnered a 2013 Nobel Prize for the theorists who first predicted the existence of the Higgs in the 1960s.
Housed in an oval-shaped, 7-mile-long (27 kilometer) tunnel beneath the French-Swiss border, a beefed-up Large Hadron Collider could discover even more new particles.
Though proving the existence of the Higgs boson was a major goal and achieving it garnered a lot of headlines, the facility at CERN has made progress in other areas as well like the creation of quark–gluon plasma back in 2011 is one example.
Now the facility is in the process of an upgrade which has been in the planning stages for several years and will include upgrades to several pieces and parts of the facility that support the LHC as well as the main accelerator itself. The team recognized that the facility had begun to suffer from diminishing returns and that many parts could be improved due to the development of new technology and improvements on old ways of doing things. Thus, this past February the LHC along with other parts and accelerators that feed it, was shut down. The retooling has been forecast to total approximately $4.4 billion dollars.
The vast machine at the laboratory in Geneva has been almost completely rebuilt and will run with twice as much energy as last time, the team at Cern said. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will take months to restart and scientists will only begin colliding beams and doing experiments on the machine, the largest and most powerful particle accelerator in the world in early 2015.
Speaking at the EuroScience Open Forum Meeting in Copenhagen, senior CERN physicist Fabiola Gianotti said, “The discovery of a Higgs boson was just the beginning of the LHC’s journey. The increase in energy opens the door to a whole new discovery potential.”
“There is a new buzz about the laboratory and a real sense of anticipation,” added Cern Directory General Rolf Heuer. “Much work has been carried out on the LHC over the last 18 months or so and it’s effectively a new machine poised to set us on the path to new discoveries.”
During the upcoming campaign, the machine is expected to come close to its maximum collision energy of 14 trillion electron volts. That could open up a new frontier for particle physics, perhaps bringing evidence of extra dimensions, dark matter particles and super symmetry. “The discovery of a Higgs boson was just the beginning of the LHC’s journey,” senior CERN physicist Fabiola Gianotti said in Copenhagen. “The increase in energy opens the door to a whole new discovery potential.”