More than a year after it was shut down, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Geneva will see proton beams colliding any time now.
On November 20, low-energy particle beams started circulating in the 27- kilometre tunnel located on the Swiss-French border. “It’s great to see beams circulating in the LHC again,” said CERN Director General Rolf Heuer in a statement from the press office of CERN. “We’ve still got some way to go before physics can begin, but with this milestone we’re well on the way.”
Earlier this month, a beam was injected in one of the eight sectors in the LHC as a precursor. “They started some beam injection and the particles traversed one sector in each direction,” said Professor Atul Gurtu, physicist at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), which has been involved with the LHC at various stages. “Last year, beams were circulated for many revolutions around the collider in both directions. So they started cautiously this year.”
The collisions will get physicists to study the four major experiments - ATLAS, ALICE, CMS and LHCb – in the world’s largest particle smasher.
The world’s most expensive experiment conducted by the European Organisation of Nuclear Research (CERN) will recreate conditions that existed in the beginning of the universe. The high-energy collisions in the accelerator at 3.5Tev are expected only after mid December this year.
It was in September 2008 that the LHC – the most expensive science experiment – started operations. But it came to halt only a mere nine days later, after a fault in the electrical connection in the joints between two super-conducting magnets.