Large Hadron Collider switches on again at far higher level of power

·Contributor
·2-min read
MEYRIN, SWITZERLAND - SEPTEMBER 14: A part of complex Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is seen underground during the Open Days at the CERN particle physics research facility on September 14, 2019 in Meyrin, Switzerland. The 27km-long Large Hadron Collider is currently shut down for maintenance, which has created an opportunity to offer access to the public. CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is the world's largest laboratory for research into particle physics. (Photo by Ronald Patrick/Getty Images)
A part of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) (Photo by Ronald Patrick/Getty Images)

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is about to start smashing subatomic particles together at unheard-of energy levels to reveal more of the secrets of the universe.

Ten years ago, the collider unearthed the so-called ‘God particle’, the Higgs boson.

From next Tuesday, it will start again — running for four years at an all-time-high energy of 13.6 trillion electron volts, according to the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN).

This time, scientists are hunting elusive mysteries such as dark matter and dark energy.

Read more: Large Hadron Collider ‘has proved that ghosts don’t exist’, says Brian Cox

The batch of LHC collisions observed at CERN between 2010-2013 brought proof of the existence of the long-sought Higgs boson particle which, along with its linked energy field, is thought to be vital to the formation of the universe after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago.

Physicists hope the resumption of collisions will help in their quest for so-called "dark matter" that lies beyond the visible universe.

Dark matter is thought to be five times more prevalent than ordinary matter but does not absorb, reflect or emit light. Searches have so far come up empty-handed.

The experiments will also probe mysteries such as dark energy - and will use narrowed proton beams less than 10 microns across, to increase the collision rate between particles.

Read more: Large Hadron Collider ‘could shrink Earth into tiny ball’

CERN director-general Fabiola Gianotti said: "The Higgs boson is related to some of the most profound open questions in fundamental physics today.”

Joachim Mnich, CERN's head of research and computing, told AFP there was still much to learn about the Higgs boson, saying "Is the Higgs boson really a fundamental particle or is it a composite?"

"Is it the only Higgs-like particle that exists – or are there others?"

Watch: Why the Large Hadron Collider almost didn't get built