Ten years after it discovered the Higgs boson, the Large Hadron Collider is about to start smashing protons together at unprecedented energy levels in its quest to reveal more secrets about how the universe works.
The world’s largest and most powerful particle collider started back up in April after a three-year break for upgrades in preparation for its third run. From today it will run around the clock for nearly four years at a record energy of 13.6 trillion electronvolts, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) announced at a news conference last week.
It is to send two beams of protons — particles in the nucleus of an atom — in opposite directions at nearly the speed of light around a 27km ring buried 100m under the Swiss-French border.
The resulting collisions would be recorded and analyzed by thousands of scientists as part of a raft of experiments, including ATLAS, CMS, ALICE and LHCb, which would use the enhanced power to probe dark matter, dark energy and other fundamental mysteries.
“We aim to be delivering 1.6 billion proton-proton collisions per second” for the ATLAS and CMS experiments, CERN’s head of accelerators and technology Mike Lamont said.
This time around the proton beams will be narrowed to less than 10 microns — a human hair is about 70 microns thick — to increase the collision rate, he said.
The new energy rate would allow scientists to further investigate the Higgs boson, which the Large Hadron Collider first observed on July 4, 2012.
The discovery revolutionized physics in part because the Higgs boson fit within the Standard Model — the mainstream theory of all the fundamental particles that make up matter and the forces that govern them.
“The Higgs boson is related to some of the most profound open questions in fundamental physics today,” said CERN director-general Fabiola Gianotti, who first announced the Higgs boson’s discovery a decade ago.
Compared with the collider’s first run that discovered the Higgs boson, this time around there would be 20 times more collisions.
“This is a significant increase, paving the way for new discoveries,” Lamont said.
CERN head of research and computing Joachim Mnich said that there was still much more to learn about the Higgs boson.
“Is the Higgs boson really a fundamental particle or is it a composite?” he asked. “Is it the only Higgs-like particle that exists — or are there others?”
Experiments have determined the mass of the Higgs boson, as well as more than 60 composite particles, but CERN theoretical physics department head Gian Giudice said observing particles is only part of the job.
“Particle physics does not simply want to understand the how — our goal is to understand the why,” he said.
Among the Large Hadron Collider’s nine experiments is ALICE, which probes the matter that existed in the first 10 microseconds after the Big Bang, and LHCf, which uses the collisions to simulate cosmic rays.
After this run, the collider is to come back in 2029 as the High-Luminosity LHC, increasing the number of detectable events by a factor of 10.
Beyond that, scientists are planning a Future Circular Collider — a 100km ring that aims to reach energies of 100 trillion electronvolts, but for now, physicists are keenly awaiting results from the Large Hadron Collider’s third run.
“A new physics season is starting,” CERN said.
RE-EDUCATION: The ambassador to Australia told reporters that he understood there ‘might be a process for the people in Taiwan to have a correct understanding of China’ China’s ambassador to Australia yesterday said that Beijing is prepared to use “all necessary means” to prevent Taiwan from being independent, saying there can be “no compromise” on its “one China” principle. Chinese Ambassador to Australia Xiao Qian (肖千) repeatedly told the National Press Club in Canberra that the US was to blame for the recent escalation in tensions, adding that China’s decision to launch ballistic missiles in live-fire exercises in response to US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was “legitimate and justified.” Xiao said that after a “good start” with the new government of Australian Prime Minister
PROPAGANDA LEAFLETS: Seoul voiced ‘strong regret’ as Kim’s sister threatened to eradicate South Korean authorities for sending the virus across the border North Korean leader Kim Jong-un suffered from a “high fever” during a recent COVID-19 outbreak, his sister Kim Yo-jong said yesterday, as she vowed to “eradicate” South Korean authorities if they continued to tolerate propaganda leaflets the regime blames for spreading the virus. Kim Yo-jong blamed “South Korean puppets” for sending “dirty objects” across the border in leaflets carried by balloons, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported. The revelation of her brother’s illness marked an unusual admission for a regime that rarely comments on the leader’s health — and then only to show that he shares the struggles of
Screams from soldiers being tortured, overflowing cells, inhuman conditions, a regime of intimidation and murder. Inedible gruel, no communication with the outside world and days marked off with a home-made calendar written on a box of tea. This is what conditions are like inside Olenivka, a notorious detention center where dozens of Ukrainian soldiers burned to death late last month, said a former prisoner of the camp outside Donetsk in the Russian-occupied east of Ukraine. Anna Vorosheva — a 45-year-old Ukrainian entrepreneur — gave a harrowing account to the Observer of her time inside the jail. She spent 100 days in Olenivka
A landmark sexual harassment case in China yesterday returned to court after an earlier ruling dealt a blow to the country’s fledgling #MeToo movement. Zhou Xiaoxuan (周曉璇) stepped forward in 2018 to accuse state TV host Zhu Jun (朱軍) of forcibly kissing and groping her during her 2014 internship at the broadcaster. While the case of Zhou, now 29, inspired many others to share their experiences of sexual assault publicly and sparked a social media storm, a court ruled last year there was insufficient evidence to back her allegation. Zhou appealed, and returned to court for another hearing yesterday in Beijing. “I still feel