After two years of extensive upgrades, the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), was recently restarted on April 5, 2015. The LHC is part of a branch of physics called particle physics, which deals with the building blocks of energy and the universe. Experiments within particle physics require advanced mathematical models and incredibly sensitive detectors to collect evidence from the smallest of particles (i.e. tiny blocks of matter, the substance that everything in the universe is made of). This is where the LHC comes in. The LHC is a collection of high-tech devices that create a very fast beam of particles. When the beams and particles collide, their collisions are monitored by a series of detectors. Vast rooms full of complex computer servers run statistical analyses to uncover the collision details. The results from each collision stand as evidence supporting or undermining certain hypotheses within particle physics.
Less than two years ago, the LHC provided evidence of the existence of the Higgs Boson. Nicknamed the “God particle,” the Higgs Boson is an extremely unstable elementary particle that gives mass to other particles. However, now that the Higgs Boson has been found, what else is there to examine with the LHC? Why are they restarting it? Scientists operating the LHC hope to collect valuable evidence concerning two main hypotheses: supersymmetry, which claims that each particle has a yet-to-be-discovered twin; and Dark Matter WIMPS (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles), which claims that the universe is filled with a humongous amount of almost unobservable particles.
Aknowledgements: Many thanks to Péter Kómár, a graduate student in the Physics Department at Harvard University, for providing his expertise and insight into the topic.
Managing Correspondent: Haley Manchester
Original Article: Proton beams are back in the LHC – CERN News
Media Coverage: Large Hadron Collider Restarts – Nature News; Restarting the Large Hadron Collider: What Will It Mean for Science? – USA News