This April, SITN Waves, along with many other news outlets, reported on the restart of the Large Hadron Collider, or the LHC. Many similar headlines were seen last week when CERN announced the machine’s official restart. So when did the LHC actually restart, and what were scientists at CERN doing in the meantime?

On April 5, the LHC was powered on for the first time in two years. Particles called protons were sent all the way around the 27 km ring, but at relatively low energies. Since then, physicists and engineers have spent the last two months beam commissioning.

This time was used to “train” the 9300 magnets that precisely guide protons around the LHC. Much like a runner takes months to prepare for a race, it takes many iterations of ramping up to higher and higher energies before the accelerator can send stable beams around the ring. Even the smallest disturbance in the system can result in a shutdown that lasts hours, underscoring the painstaking preparations and tests needed to achieve perfect collisions.

On June 3, the first collisions were finally taken for physics purposes, and this event marked the official restart of the LHC. During this run, over 600 million collisions will occur every second, with each collision generating temperatures 100,000 times hotter than the inside of the Sun. Thousands of scientists will make use of the largest computing system in the world to parse through the data, and who knows what they might find.

 

Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Julia Gonski, a graduate student in the Physics Department at Harvard University, for providing her expertise and commentary on the subject

Original Article: Supercharged LHC Tackles Universe’s Big Questions – Nature News

Media Coverage: Restarting the LHC: Why 13 TeV? – CERN Engineering

Managing Correspondent: Karri DiPetrillo

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