Large Hadron Collider (LHC)
November 21, 2009
The LHC is back up and running- sorta! It may take 1-3 years (can you say 2012?) before we know some of the critical information that the LHC, in Cern, can tell us. Evidence of supersymmetry, the idea that every particle has a “super partner” with similar properties in a quantum dimension (according to some physics theories, there are hidden dimensions in the universe), could be discovered one way or the other before 2012.
“The LHC is back,” the European Organization for Nuclear Research announced triumphantly Friday, as the world’s largest particle accelerator resumed operation more than a year after an electrical failure shut it down.
Restarting the Large Hadron Collider — the $10 billion research tool’s full name — has been “a herculean effort,” CERN’s director for accelerators, Steve Myers, said in a statement announcing the success. Experiments at the LHC may help answer fundamental questions such as why Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity — which describes the world on a large scale — doesn’t jibe with quantum mechanics, which deals with matter far too small to see.
Of course, quantum physics is standing most scientists on their heads these days.
Physicists established a circulating proton beam in the LHC’s 17-mile tunnel at 10 p.m. (4 p.m. ET) Friday, CERN said, a critical step towards getting results from the accelerator. “It’s great to see beam circulating in the LHC again,” said CERN Director General Rolf Heuer. “We’ve still got some way to go before physics can begin, but with this milestone we’re well on the way.”
Located underground on the border of Switzerland and France, the LHC has been inching towards operation since the summer. It reached its operating temperature — 271 degrees below zero Celsius — on October 8 and particles were injected on October 23. Now that a beam is circulating, the next step is low-energy collisions, which should begin in about a week, CERN said. High-energy collisions will follow next year.
Might we create a “black hole” with this monster? Doubtful, but then, who knows anything for sure these days?