The Large Hadron Collider restarts after a two-year pause needed for upgrades. Scientists have already started to circulate protons from both directions, around the 17-mile-round (27-kilometer-round) ring tunnel located 300 feet (100 meters) beneath the French-Swiss border near Geneva.
On Sunday April 5, Europe’s CERN particle physics center announced that the first round of proton circulation was completed. But this was not the only task set on today’s schedule. The Large Hadron Collider’s (LHC) team is planning to send waves of protons throughout the day.
The LHC is known as the world most powerful and most expensive collider. It has a team of thousands of physicists and engineers and its construction cost was estimated at about $ 10 billion.
The collider functioned between 2009 and 2013, when it contributed to the discovery of the Higgs boson. The existence of this subatomic particle was first suggested in the 1960s but the hypothesis couldn’t be demonstrated until the LHC.
This Higgs boson, the last puzzle piece needed to complete the Standard Model (a theory regarding particle physics), helps other fundamental particles acquire mass proprieties.
The LHC is used to accelerate protons to reach the speed of light with the help of powerful magnets that had been cooled down to temperatures close to absolute zero. During the two-year pause, engineers upgraded the magnets’ interlinks in order to resist to higher power levels.
The pause should have ended a few weeks ago but due to a short-circuit detected in one of the magnets, the beginning of the new project was postponed until this Sunday.
During the first course of collisions, the LHC created energy calculated at 8 trillion electron volts, or 8 TeV. Now, after all upgrades have been implemented, the LHC will be able to generate energy as high as 13 TeV, which is close to the machine’s full capacity. Joe Lykken, a theoretical physicist at Fermilab in Illinois described this upgrade as “the biggest jump in energy” possible during his lifetime.
Although cosmic rays are capable of generating energy with intensities higher than 13 TeV, physicists are pleased with the fact that they are able to analyze such collisions in a controlled environment. So what expectations are there from the LHC’s second run? Lykken gave the following brief statement:
“The basic thing we’re looking for is to start producing some new heavy particles that we couldn’t produce last time.”
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