LHC season two: a new era for physics

12 March 2015

The world’s most powerful particle accelerator is about to be turned back on and enter into a second phase of collisions.

LHC season two
Credit: CERN
1) New magnets 2) Stronger connections 3) Safer magnets 4) Higher energy beams 5) Narrower beams 6) Smaller but closer proton packets 7) Higher voltage 8) Superior cryogenics 9) Radiation-resistant electronics 10) More secure vacuum

Today, Rolf Heuer, director general of CERN, spoke of a “new era for physics” during the press briefing, held at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. “I want to see the first light in the dark universe,” Heuer said. “If that happens, then nature is kind to me.”

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has undergone important upgrades and repairs over the past two years since its planned shutdown. The machine now boasts new magnets, superior cryogenics, higher voltage and higher energy beams that will allow it to run at nearly double the collision energy of the first run.

The first circulating beams of protons in the LHC are planned for the week beginning 23 March, and by late May to early June it aims to be running at 13 TeV. One hope is that these higher energies will allow physicists to extend the search for new particles, and to put further constraints on speculative theories such as supersymmetry, which could extend the standard model of particle physics.

Frances Saunders, president of the IOP, said: "This has been a massive effort by all the scientists and engineers at CERN to upgrade the LHC and its detectors and get it ready to operate at almost double the collision energies of the first run. As well as allowing greater study of the Higgs boson there is much anticipation among the physics community as to what else may be found at these higher energies, testing our theories and understanding of concepts such as supersymmetry and potentially giving greater insight into the 95% of the universe that is composed of dark matter and dark energy. We share the excitement of those who are lucky enough to be working with the most powerful particle accelerator in the world and wish them every good fortune in their hunt for new knowledge." 

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