Par­ti­cle smasher starts up again, says CERN

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

The world’s big­gest par­ti­cle col­lider was back in op­er­a­tion Sun­day af­ter a two-year up­grade, the Euro­pean Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Nu­clear Re­search (CERN) said.

As part of the recom­mis­sion­ing process, en­gi­neers at the Large Hadron Col­lider (LHC) suc­cess­fully in­tro­duced two pro­ton beams, the source ma­te­rial for sub-atomic smashups.

All sys­tems would be checked over com­ing days be­fore the en­ergy of the beams was in­creased, CERN said in a state­ment.

“Af­ter two years of in­tense main­te­nance and sev­eral months of prepa­ra­tion for restart, the Large Hadron Col­lider, the most pow­er­ful par­ti­cle ac­cel­er­a­tor in the world, is back in op­er­a­tion,” CERN said.

“To­day (Sun­day) at 10:42 a.m. (0842 GMT) a pro­ton beam was back in the 27-kilo­me­ter (17-mile) ring, fol­lowed at 12:27 p.m. by a sec­ond beam ro­tat­ing in the op­po­site di­rec­tion,” it added.

CERN direc­tor for ac­cel­er­a­tors and tech­nol­ogy de­scribed the LHC as “in great shape.”

“But the most im­por­tant step is still to come when we in­crease the en­ergy of the beams to new record lev­els,” he said.

A short-cir­cuit in one of the LHC’s mag­net cir­cuits eight days ago had de­layed the ea­gerly awaited restart.

The LHC com­prises a ring­shaped tun­nel strad­dling the Franco-Swiss bor­der, in which two beams of pro­tons are sent in op­po­site di­rec­tions.

Pow­er­ful mag­nets bend the beams so that they col­lide at points around the track where four lab­o­ra­to­ries have bat­ter­ies of sen­sors to mon­i­tor the smashups.

The sub-atomic rub­ble

is then scru­ti­nized for novel par­ti­cles and the forces that hold them to­gether.

In 2012, the LHC dis­cov­ered the Higgs Bo­son, the par­ti­cle that con­fers mass, earn­ing the No­bel Prize for two of the sci­en­tists who, back in 1964, had the­o­rized its ex­is­tence.

The up­grade was in­tended to beef up its max­i­mum col­li­sion ca­pac­ity from eight ter­a­elec­tron­volts (TeV) to 14 TeV seven TeV for each of the two counter-ro­tat­ing beams.

CERN said ear­lier that if all went well with the start-up par­ti­cle col­li­sions “at an en­ergy of 13 TeV” could start as early as June.

Dur­ing the next phase of the LHC pro­gram, re­searchers will probe a con­cep­tual fron­tier called new physics, with enig­matic “dark mat­ter” the big area of in­ter­est.

Or­di­nary, vis­i­ble mat­ter com­prises only about four per­cent of the known Uni­verse.

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