CERN collider restarts search for cosmic mysteries

By Reuters
Monday, February 21, 2011 15:38 EDT
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GENEVA (Reuters) – CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is gearing up to resume full-speed particle collisions next month aimed at resolving key mysteries of the universe, scientists and engineers at the research center said on Monday.

They reported that the giant subterranean machine was in fine shape after a 10-week shutdown and that particle beams circulating in it again since the weekend would be boosted to top speed by the end of the day.

“Everything is going very well indeed. Progress has been extremely rapid since we switched the LHC on again late on Saturday,” Mike Lamont, head of operations at the LHC control room just outside Geneva, told Reuters.

The LHC was closed down on December 6 for technical checks of its hugely complex apparatus after eight months of operations.

“We hope to ramp up to full beam within the next few hours,” said Lamont, referring to the highest energy achieved so far in the machine — 3.5 tera electron volts, or TeV — since it first went into operation on March 31 last year.

“Our analyst teams are preparing to work on ‘new physics’ data that will start flowing once collisions start up again in about three weeks,” said Oliver Buchmueller, team leader on the LHC’s CMS detector, one of the project’s four major experiments.


New Physics, the motto of the LHC, refers to knowledge that will take research beyond the “Standard Model” of how the universe works that emerged from the work of Albert Einstein and his 1905 Theory of Special Relativity.

“We will be focusing this year on super-symmetry, extra dimensions, how black holes are produced, and the Higgs boson. We expect some first results by the summer,” said Buchmueller.

Super-symmetry, dubbed SUSY, is a theory allowing for the existence of unseen doubles of elementary particles and if proven correct would explain the mystery of dark matter, believed to make up nearly a quarter of the known universe.

It could also help back up the string theory concept which provides for extra dimensions other than the known four — length, breadth, depth and time — and for the existence of parallel universes.

Black holes are collapsed stars, observed in many galaxies in the known universe, around which the force of gravity is so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape. But scientists want to know more about how they come about.

The Higgs boson has been posited for over 30 years as the agent that gives mass to matter, and made formation of the universe possible immediately after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago. But proof that it exists has still to be found.

Information on all these is expected to emerge as CERN — the 21-nation European Organization for Nuclear Research — pursues its simulations of the Big Bang with billions of high-energy collisions in the LHC.

(Editing by Laura MacInnis and Mark Trevelyan)

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  • http://www.lynchgraphics.com David Lynch

    This makes me more nervous than an armed posse of teabaggers.

  • Anonymous

    All those problems with that massive collider has me worried, maybe it’s true that someone or group is sabotaging it in order for it to not work properly.

  • Ma’at

    Fantastic news!

  • Ma’at

    Nah. Not as complex as that machinery/device is. It would have been a shock to not have had problems. I remember how rocket after rocket after rocket failed before we launched Shepard into space.

  • Anonymous

    What’s really worrisome is that the research they are pursuing is based upon theory based upon theory based upon theory, none of which has really ever been proven, so what they are attempting is many times removed from the original theory.

    Now, there are some serious physicists out there with some serious reservations about these experiments.

    Also, there are some particle physicists involved with the LHC who pooh-pooh the idea of anything catastrophic occurring; interesting that some of those same particle physicists disbelieve in global climate change and believe global warming to be a hoax!

    Having bothered to re-read Riemann’s original thesis, the basis for Einstein’s work on relativity, makes me ponder whether they misunderstood Riemann’s concept of quantum geometry. Riemann’s work indicated a fractal universe geometry, and I believe that has been a historic misunderstanding on the part of physicists existing today.

    If the universal geometry, or quantum geomtry, happens to be of a spheroidal fractal nature, then what they are looking for (Higgs-Boson) may turn out to be not a mass-inducing particle, but a dimension-creating particle — not good for an inhabited planet!

  • Anonymous

    I think this is exciting and a complete new era in science. I am glad its in Europe however because the GOP would shut it down here

  • YeaSayer

    The Standard Model is a sham. The search for the Higgs boson is to CERN what missile defense is to the Pentagon.

  • Tio Holtzman

    There’s only a small chance that this search for the Higgs-Boson will result in the destruction of reality, so why worry? Besides, our dimension will likely crumble so fast that you won’t feel a thing!

  • Dolmance

    If Ferrari manufactured time machines, this is what they’d look like – hands down, the coolest machine ever, ever built.

  • RottenJohnny

    Collisions, like those happening in CERN, happen all the time in the upper atmosphere. Nothing’s going to happen but maybe new particles discovered, or new theories formed or proven.

  • Guest

    “search for cosmic mysteries”

    Don’t we have plenty of Earth-bound mysteries to solve first?
    Like why are most Republicans such assholes?

  • Ma’at

    Absolutely none of what you say is true or accurate. *sigh* Fortunately, this isn’t being pursued in the United States where scientific ignorance is worn like the Congressional Medal of Honor.

  • Ma’at

    EXACTLY. Glad someone else who has a clue weighed in on this. These collisions routinely occur in nature.

  • Ma’at

    Oh I think throwing some sub-atomic particles may well answer that one. It’s worth a shot anyway.

  • BrainRagYell
  • Jaimie11

    It was originally planned for the US – was pushed by Republicans, was faintly praised by Clinton, and got shut down by Congress in 1993 due to costs overruns. It was to be significantly larger than CERN.


  • overdoneputaforkinit

    You mean the Republicans were originally going to use science research as a money pit, but because Clinton cancelled it they now use military aggression to do endless government spending to enrich their buddies? I would prefer cost overruns and wasteful spending to be spent on science. It’s all Clinton’s fault!

  • overdoneputaforkinit

    It doesn’t matter.

    1. God created the Universe as it is right now 40 seconds ago, complete with your memories to fool you.

    2. The Universe will end a few seconds from now.

    3. If you wait and the Universe doesn’t end, see 1.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_QMPOO3PZFN7XV2XZKCGSXXR3WM Joe Somebody

    Strange that the richest country in the world, with corporations making profits magnitudes larger than many entire nations, can’t fund something that the rest of the world figures out a way to fund (while still having “entitlement programs” like single payer health care).

  • Jaimie11

    Where do you get that I said that? Read the link I provided. For myself, I wanted the supercollider in this country. I’m interested in the science.

    Oh, and Clinton had no problem bombing people and stirring things up so as to require a military solution. He’s no political saint – I know, I was involved in the Tsongas campaign and Clinton lied through his teeth and promised unfulfillable pipe dreams just like Obushma did.

    I’m not partisan like you. They ALL look like criminals to me, not just the side I don’t like.

  • Jaimie11

    Take your complaints to the oligarchs. I have no control over them. If you want to see real change boot them and their criminal banking system out of the country. Then see how much money is available to fund humane interests.

  • overdoneputaforkinit

    I was joking. I thought “I would prefer cost overruns and wasteful spending to be spent on science.” would be a clue.

  • Jaimie11

    Yeah, it went over my head. I was busy fighting a war on another thread, it must have affected my humor detector. Sorry.

  • Jaimie11

    I agree with that. I was born a classical liberal, a rebel, a liberty lover. But I think our opinions are precisely manipulated to fit into the two party model that is easily manageable with advertising and brainwashing techniques – propaganda.

    If we, as a nation, were free to discuss our ideas, beyond the limitations of the two party polarity, we’d find we have far more diverse ideas than we’ve been corralled into believing we have, and we’d find we enjoy much more agreement as well.

  • Anonymous

    I’m uncertain as to your background, sonny, but I happen to be a member of the smallest minority in North America (I received a perfect score on the Math Achievement Test on the old college boards, CEEB).

    Care to dual??