The world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator, which has granted scientists a look at the beginnings of our universe, was just granted a new beginning.
The Large Hadron Collider was reactivated this weekend in Switzerland, capping two years of inactivity while the complex machine was under maintenance. Now, after buzzing back to life for the first time since 2013, the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) hopes to open the door for new discoveries while they operate the LHC at “unprecedented energy.”
“After two years of effort, the LHC is in great shape,” CERN Director for Accelerators and Technology, Frédérick Bordry, said in a statement. “But the most important step is still to come when we increase the energy of the beams to new record levels.”
The LHC’s second run began with the introduction of a proton beam into the 17-mile ring. A short while afterward, a second beam, traveling opposite the first, was introduced. These two beams will continue to circulate; by summer CERN staff hope to double the beams’ energy being to the output of its first run. By summer, scientists hope to start colliding beams.
“The Brout-Englert-Higgs mechanism, dark matter, antimatter and quark-gluon plasma are all on the menu for LHC season 2,” CERN said in a statement. Scientists are looking to put “the Standard Model of particle physics to its most stringent test yet, searching for new physics beyond this well-established theory describing particles and their interactions.”
During the Large Hadron Collider’s first run, physicists discovered the elusive Higgs boson, a subatomic particle thought to endow all other particles, and all matter in the universe, with mass.