As of today, the Large Hadron Collider will run at full, record-breaking power levels, as scientists kick off a new set of experiments that will help us understand the secrets of particle physics.
After rebooting in March following a two-year period of repairs an upgrades, teams of scientists have been testing the Collider's abilities to run at higher powers than ever before. In May, it smashed it previous record, hurling together beams of protons with an energy of 13 TeV (tera-electronvolts) — a full 5 TeV higher than the previous standard. For some context, that's enough energy to melt a tonne of copper on impact.
Now, the scientists working on the project are satisfied that the Collider can run at full power for sustained periods of time. From today, then, teams will begin regularly colliding particles at these record-breaking energies, in the hope of discovering as-yet undetected particles that could shed light on some of the mysteries of physics.
"The higher energy means more chance of finding new discoveries," Alan Barr, a Professor of Particle Physics at the University of Oxford who works on the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider, told us when we spoke to him in March. "The LHC's higher energy can give us sensitivity to new, as-yet-undiscovered particles." Indeed, researchers hope that the experiments could reveal the origins of dark matter, super-symmetric particles and more. You can read all about how that might happen — and what it could mean for physics — in a feature we published earlier this year.
At low powers, scientists did the almost-impossible and found the Higgs Boson. This time, they might find something even more exciting. [CERN]