The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is back in action today, firing proton beams around its 27-kilometer track. The LHC has been out of active commission for two years for upgrades, maintenance, and consolidation. The most recent delay was due to a short-circuit. Its repairs didn’t take as long as originally anticipated, but were tedious because the parts in need of repair operate at temperatures near absolute zero. So, the device had to be slowly thawed and then painstakingly re-frozen before it could begin operation again.
CERN’s LHC is now stronger that ever. Its laser beams are capable of double the energy of the LHC’s earlier rounds of collision. Now, the supercollider will be able to crash protons against protons with 13 TeV of energy.
Scientists consolidated over 10,000 electrical and magnetic connections were consolidated to make room for magnetic projection systems and improved cryogenic and vacuum systems. This all results in a new method of proton beam projection that will produce more collisions only 25 nanoseconds apart from each other.
Early experiments were seeking the fleeting Higgs boson. Now, researchers are on the hunt for dark matter, antimatter, quark-gluon plasma, and the Brout-Englert-Higgs mechanism which was proposed in the 1960’s and predicted the existence of the Higgs boson. As scientists continue to break apart matter into its most basic particles, they will be testing every aspect of Standard Model particle in the most demanding way. The LHC’s second series of full operations is expected to run from 2016 to 2018 in Switzerland.