Things are happening in the 27 km long particle collision tunnel under the Swiss-French borders. A new energy record has been set by the Large Hadron Collider team at 13 tera-electron volts (TeV).
Next month is scheduled for a collision between protons, almost in the speed of light, and with the new astonishing energy levels the scientist hope to dig into new understandings about the ever so evasive dark matter, and extra dimensions in space.
When the LHC team discovered Higgs boson a couple of years ago, the energy used was only half of what they have managed to pull off this year. The Higgs particle was a mystery for 50 years, as a theory about being the elementary particle that gave mass to other particles, until the world’s largest microscope, not to mention the world’s most expensive one with a price tag of £3.7 billion, finally could present the much anticipated proof for the particle’s existence.
It took a two year long period of upgrading the system before it was able to perform at these higher energy levels, and this April it was restarted, and the goals are quite bold: “Possibly the biggest question we’d like an answer to is, what is the dark matter which makes up most of the mass of the universe? Maybe we can actually make some at these new energies.” The words are Professor Jonathan Butterworth’s, University College London, who also works on the LHC’s Atlas detector.
Other teams waiting to get going with their experiments are ALICE, CMS and LHCb, and after yesterday’s test collisions, used to make sure that the machine and detectors are protected from any particles that may stray from the beam edges, the teams continue today, running the beam collisions for several hours, to fine-tune and make sure everything is ready for the second run in June this year.