CERN restarts Large Hadron Collider, seeks dark universe

Scientists at Europe’s physics research centre CERN restart their “Big Bang” Large Hadron Collider after a two-year hiatus.

MEYRIN, SWITZERLAND (APRIL 5, 2015) (CERN) – Scientists at Europe’s physics research centre CERN on Sunday (April 5) restarted their “Big Bang” Large Hadron Collider (LHC), embarking on a bid to probe into the “dark universe” they believe lies beyond the visible one.

CERN reported that particle beams were successfully pushed around the LHC in both directions after a two-year shutdown for a major refit described as a Herculean task that doubled its power — and its reach into the unknown.

Scientists and engineers were delighted as the beams moved round the tubes of the 27-km (17-mile) underground complex.

But it will be two months before particle collisions — mini-versions of the Big Bang primordial blast that brought the universe into being 13.8 billion years ago — begin and at least a year more before any results can be expected.

CERN’s head of technology department Frederick Bordry said the restart involved a “lot of work, in particular on the interconnections between the magnets”.

Laurette Ponce, the engineer in charge of the LHC, said the team was already impressed with its success.

“Now we have just managed to do the first turn with the anti-clockwise beam, the beam 2. We have been striding the beam all along the ring and we managed to keep it for 25 turns already without the RF capture, so this is already a big success.”

RF capture is the synchronization of the LHC accelerating system.

But the head of beams department, Paul Collier there would try another trajectory.

“We have to continue to correct a little bit the trajectory to make the beam do now multiple turns. Then we can start capturing with the RF system. But in the meantime, we will try the other beam, the other direction, and try to get that to the same stage.”

Study of many billions of collisions in the LHC’s first run from 2010-2013 produced proof by 2012 of the existence of the Higgs boson and its linked force field, a long sought mechanism that gives mass to matter.

But that was part of the 40-year-old Standard Model of how the universe is believed to work at the level of the fundamental particles that make up everything in it, including life.

With its capacity to smash particles together at almost the speed of light and at a collision energy twice that of its first run, scientists hope that the revamped LHC will produce evidence of what has been dubbed “New Physics”.

Among elements of this concept are the “dark matter” thought to make up some 96 per cent of the stuff of the universe while being totally invisible, and super-symmetry, or SUSY, under which all visible particles have unseen counterparts.

CERN will only gradually move towards applying the full energy now within the power of the LHC, mindful of a helium leak in 2008 that forced postponement of the machine’s first LHC run for two years, and an electrical fault that put off Sunday’s start-up, originally set for last month, by two weeks.