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Back to Work

March 6, 2015

The world’s largest scientific experiment is about to get back to work. After a two-year upgrade, the LHC — the Large Hadron Collider — is scheduled to resume operations this month. It’ll continue its quest to help scientists better understand the most basic particles and forces in nature.

The LHC is a 17-mile ring in which particles of matter are accelerated to almost the speed of light. Two beams of matter are aimed at each other, producing spectacular collisions between particles. The conditions can rival those found shortly after the Big Bang, so they reveal details about what the Big Bang created, and how.

In its first set of experiments, the LHC confirmed the presence of the Higgs boson. This long-sought particle confirmed the existence of a field that gives mass to particles of matter. The discovery earned a Nobel Prize for the scientist who predicted the Higgs particle, and the leader of the team that found it.

The new LHC will operate at higher energy levels than before. That will allow it to probe conditions even closer to the Big Bang. Its experiments could reveal the particles that make up dark matter, which produces no energy but accounts for most of the matter in the universe. They’ll also allow scientists to look for evidence of supersymmetry — a theory that says the Big Bang created heavier counterparts for all the “normal” particles that we know about — pushing our understanding of the birth of the universe.


Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2015

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