World's most powerful particle collider at work again
London, April 6: The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) -- world's most powerful particle collider that found the long-awaited Higgs boson in 2013 -- has kicked off its second run after a two-year break.
Researchers at CERN, Europe's particle physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, spent the hiatus upgrading the collider to run at a higher energy and with a greater intensity of collisions, the scientific journal Nature reported.
The second run does not have an obvious target like it had earlier. Instead, physicists will scour the data for signs of phenomena that do not fit with the standard model of particle physics in hopes of solving mysteries such as the origins of dark matter.
"Bringing the LHC back on, from a complete shutdown to doing physics, is not a question of pushing a button and away you go," said Paul Collier, head of beams at CERN.
Collier and his team will spend the next eight weeks bringing more and more systems online, allowing engineers to fine tune and clean the beams.
CERN will also turn on the LHC's acceleration system, increasing the energy of each beam and "squeezing" the beams into narrower channels, in preparation for collisions.
Once the CERN scientists have a good understanding of how their machine is running, they will increase the number of proton bunches zipping around the ring.
Eventually, the revamped LHC will smash together one billion pairs of protons every second.
The Higgs boson (or Higgs particle) is a particle that gives mass to other particles. Scientist Peter Higgs was the first person to think of it and the particle was found in March 2013.
Higgs and another team member Francois Englert were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2013 for their work and prediction. Higgs boson is part of the Standard Model in physics, which means it is found everywhere.