The world’s largest particle smasher, CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), will be fully operational in March 2015, after a two-year break. LHC has been upgraded during this time to get twice the energy it had previously used for smashing subatomic particles.
After the discovery of the Higgs boson particle, or the God particle, in 2012, scientists hope that the improved collider would help them solve other scientific puzzles such as dark matter origins, anti-mater properties, Universe evolution, star formation and so on.
CERN boasts that LHC’s two proton beams can now release the same amount of energy as 154 tons of TNT combined.
The 17-mile-long collider was built in 2008 by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and it lies under the France-Switzerland border, buried deep down underground (about 574 ft). In 2012, it was put on hold, while several upgrades were made to it. The whole move cost nearly $151 million.
CERN researchers said the upgrades were absolutely necessary for the next series of experiments involving dark matter and other high-energy particles.
Scientists also hope that they would be able to even reproduce microscopic black holes. However, other scientists say that creating black holes on Earth, even microscopic ones, is potentially hazardous since they can expand and engulf all matter around them leading it to its doom.
Earlier this fall, LHC experiments were also criticized by Stephen Hawking, a world renowned astrophysicist. Mr. Hawking said back then that if scientists put too much pressure on the Higgs boson particle, time and space could suddenly collapse and the world would end without even see it coming.
However, Prof Hawking reassured us that his catastrophic scenario was far from becoming reality since CERN didn’t yet have a collider powerful enough to blast us all into oblivion.
The Higgs boson, however, was theorized in the early ’60 by UK scientists Peter Higgs. The particle was found by CERN in 2012, so Mr. Higgs was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics a year later.
Although, Higgs boson discovery was a landmark in physics, CERN scientists do not plan to stop there.
“With this new energy level, the [collider] will open new horizons for physics and for future discoveries. I’m looking forward to seeing what nature has in store for us,”
Rolf Heuer, CERN’s director, said in a press conference.
The upgraded Large Hadron Collider is scheduled to start beaming protons in March and do first particle collisions by May next year.
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