Hadron Collider Fires Up

The machine, which is the largest particle accelerator in the world, is ready to start after a two year break.

One of the biggest and best science experiments to take place over the last few years is happening right now, according to its home at the CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research located near Geneva, Switzerland. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was shut down nearly two years ago due to system failure and a lack of funding.

After some problems that delayed the initial restart, which was to be in March, scientists at the CERN completed final tests, enabling the first beams to start circulating Sunday inside the LHC’s 17 mile (27 km) ring. “Operating accelerators for the benefit of the physics community is what CERN’s here for,” CERN Director-General Rolf Heuer said. “Today, CERN’s heart beats once more to the rhythm of the LHC.”

The LHC generates (accelerates) up to a massive 600 million particles per second, with a beam that circulates for 10 hours, and travels more than 6 billion miles (more than 10 billion kilometers) — which they say is about the distance from Earth to Neptune and back again. Close to the speed of light, a proton in the LHC makes 11,245 circuits per second.

The accelerator is a produce of decades, if not centuries, or work from thousands of scientists both at the CERN and around the globe. The purpose of this lengthy project with vast amounts of research is to recreate the conditions that existed moments after the Big Bang, which started the creation of the universe. Through this procedure, they hope to understand more about that time and the decades following, with an eventual answer as to how the universe evolved. We have a basic idea, but with the LHC, we can learn so much more.

The machine alone costs approximately three billion euros to operate and is paid for by member countries of CERN and from contributions by non-member nations and patrons. “After two years of effort, the LHC is in great shape,” said CERN Director for Accelerators and Technology, Frédérick Bordry. “But the most important step is still to come when we increase the energy of the beams to new record levels.”



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