Geneva,: The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s biggest and most powerful particle accelerator, has been re-started after it was shut down for two years to receive an upgrade that almost doubled its power.
The restart of the LHC is now under way, with protons making their way around its 27-kilometre tunnel for the first time since 2013.
Particle beams will soon travel in both directions, inside parallel pipes, just beneath the speed of light.
Actual collisions will not begin for at least another month, but they will take place with nearly double the energy the LHC reached during its first run.
The beams have arrived a week or so later than originally scheduled, due to a now-resolved electrical fault.
The protons are injected at a relatively low energy to begin with. However, engineers hope to gradually increase the beams’ energy to 13 trillion electronvolts, double what it was during the LHC’s first operating run.
Scientists hope to glimpse a “new physics” beyond the Standard Model of particle physics, the BBC reported.
The model describes 17 subatomic particles, including 12 building blocks of matter and 5 “force carriers” – the last of which, the Higgs boson, was detected by the LHC in 2012.
Things beyond the Standard Model have been proposed to explain several baffling properties of the universe, but never directly detected.
These include dark energy and dark matter. Dark energy is the all-pervading force suggested to account for the universe expanding faster and faster.
Dark matter is the “web” that holds all visible matter in place, and would explain why galaxies spin much faster than they should, based on what we can see.
By taking matter to states we have never observed before, physicists hope to find something unexpected that addresses some of these questions.
Debris from the tiny but history-making smash-ups might contain new particles, or tell-tale gaps betraying the presence of dark matter or even hidden dimensions.
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