July 4 marks 10 years since scientists at CERN, the world’s largest research center based near Geneva, announced the existence of the Higgs boson. A team of 6,000 researchers working with the world’s first atom splitter, the Large Hardron Collider.
The discovery of the long-sought particle at the origin of mass earned François Englert and Peter Higgs the Nobel Prize in Physics. 45 years later, after coming up with the theory, they also looked at the practical side.
For this emblematic anniversary, CERN announced the restart of its Large Hadron Collider, the machine that studies the origins of matter and the universe.
Stopping its research for three years, CERN took the time to modernize. On July 5, for the third time in its history, the Large Hadron Collider will restart at an unprecedented collision energy level (13.6 trillion electron volts).
Delphine Jacquet, engineer in charge of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), explains the technicalities that the team will carry out to continue the studies.
“We will collide, for the first time, in the LHC, protons at a record energy of 6.8 tev per beam. At this energy, the collision will be 13.6 teraelectronvolts (tev), and it will be a nice review of the experience.”
Jacquet continues: “From this moment on, it will be the data taken from the experiment, for a long duration of 3 years, hoping that we will have new discoveries and interesting things that will come out of these collisions.”
Crushing particles at near-light speed in absolute vacuum and at the lowest temperature in the universe (a chattering minus 271.3°) allows scientists to collect data on particle fragmentation and how they bounce off each other.
By restarting the Large Hadron Collider and studying the infinitely small fragments, physicists want to push the limits of our knowledge even further on subjects such as dark matter or anti-matter.
As part of its upgrade, CERN is charging for three of the planned five cycles. They hope that smashing particles together could produce billions of proton-proton collisions, potentially opening a new chapter in our understanding of the world.