The world’s most powerful sub-atomic particle accelerator – the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (Cern) in Geneva – has been given the go-ahead to re-start after being closed for two years of maintenance, now LHC is ready to explain one of the biggest mysteries of the Universe – the nature of dark matter.
The team at CERN began a number of repairs to the supercollider and the CERN’s accelerator complex generally. This included consolidating 10,000 superconducting magnet interconnections, which probably took more than an afternoon. CERN officials are hopeful that the repairs made over the last few years will allow it to run at 13 TeV (nearly twice the power it ran when it found the Higgs).
“With this new energy level, the LHC will open new horizons for physics and for future discoveries,” said earlier CERN Director-General Rolf Heuer. “I’m looking forward to seeing what nature has in store for us”.
Scientists expect that colliding two beams of opposing protons, each travelling at slightly less than the speed of light, will provide important insights into unknown fundamental realms of physics, particularly the nature of the mysterious dark matter and energy accounting for the vast bulk of the Universe, but has never been seen.
According to astronomers, the matter known to exist in space, like the stars and galaxies, comprise just 4 per cent of the Universe. Scientists hope the LHC will shed light on dark matter that comprises 23 per cent of the Universe and also explain the remaining dark energy behind the Universe’s rapid expansion.
Whether Dr. Hawking’s warning proves to be accurate is yet to be seen, but if there is one thing for sure it is that the possible results of the CERN research could be groundbreaking. While scientists at CERN are trying not to get their hopes up, they feel that winning a Nobel prize is not out of the question. CERN has plans to continue to upgrade their LHC for decades, testing new capabilities every few years.
The ATLAS experiment (on the evidence for dark matter candidates in the universe), Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment (on extra dimensions and particles that could make up dark matter), the ALICE experiment (physics of matter at an infinitely small scale) and the LHCb experiment (to explore what happened after the Big Bang), are the four experiments.
The LHC is expected to start colliding small stuff again on March 23rd, but the process to reach 13 TeV is a slow one. No one wants to set the project back by jumping the gun with high energy levels. Full 13 TeV collisions are tentatively scheduled for the end of May or early June of 2015.
So what questions are you most excited for the LHC team to answer? What questions do you wish it could tackle?
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