The Large Hadron Collider, CERN’s particle accelerators, is back in service for four new years of explosive science.
On Friday, April 22, two proton currents spun through the endless tubes of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), CERN announced in a press release detected by the BBC. An event that marks the return to business of this famous particle accelerator based in Geneva. This instrument has been out of service for three years. A delay that allowed him to benefit from lengthy maintenance work and several major upgrades; now awakened from his lethargy, he resumes his revolutionary work with the promise of new first-rate scientific discoveries.
This time, the machine stopped under high voltage experiments for more than four years. And CERN researchers hope that the great efforts made during these three frustrating, scientifically sterile years will pay off. “Our ability to detect, collect, and analyze data will be two to three times better“explains Marcella Bona, a physicist at Queen Mary University in London interviewed by the BBC.
An installation at the service of fundamental physics
As its name suggests, the Large Hadron Collider is an accelerator, or more precisely a particle collider. Physically, it mainly takes the form of a long sensor-lined tunnel in which researchers cause particles to travel at incredible speeds thanks to magnetic fields. Then they try to make them crash to cause a large nanometer disorder.
Very briefly, when two particles come into contact under these conditions, they fly away in an overheated cloud of so-called subatomic particles; it is through the study of the latter that LHC physicists hope to understand the interactions of matter at the most fundamental level.
This new version of the LHC will allow CERN to get more collisions and, by extension, more data on many phenomena that are still very mysterious … if not completely unknown. “During a collision, it is seen that fundamentally different particles emerge that apparently have nothing to do with the basic objects.“Explains Boston University.”It’s like seeing a chair and a sink come out of a collision between two cars“, explains the institution in the following video.
The aim, then, is to answer some of the most important questions in all of physics. In particular, the LHC is one of the most interesting tools for exploring the limits of the standard model of particle physics. This is an extremely important element that is one of the pillars of our scientific theory, because it allows us to describe the behavior of matter on a very small scale with formidable accuracy.
A nanometer cannon aimed at the standard model of physics
The problem is that while it works very well in observable reality, the standard model is still not perfect. Its main breaking point is that it does not agree with the general relativity defined by Albert Einstein (see our article here).
If the latter is perfectly conclusive on our scale, it no longer works at all on a subatomic scale. In particular, no element of the standard model can explain the gravitational forces so well described by general relativity. In contrast, general relativity remains unanswered when it comes to subatomic phenomena.
The aim is, therefore, to fill this gap in order to arrive at a unified and global theory called “completely”. This was the main goal of the famous Albert Einstein, and he pursued it throughout his career, to no avail. Several generations of new researchers have taken the torch and are following in the footsteps of the master to try to discover them, with increasingly advanced instruments such as those at CERN.
So far, they have certainly contributed the most to this work. And this is not just an experiment in abstract thinking: this question has very specific implications. The missing pieces of the universe puzzle are probably hidden in these still very mysterious breaking points. Recently, other CERN researchers have also made an astonishing discovery that could have considerable implications at this level (see our article).
Four years on the front line
By torturing the standard model in this way, researchers intend to make it confess; for example, they expect to find new types of particles or new interactions between them. They could also clarify their understanding of still very abstract concepts such as the famous dark matter.
Finally, researchers will also continue to focus on the famous Higgs boson. It is a mysterious particle that has been surpassing physics for many, many years; it was formally identified on June 4, 2012, almost ten years ago, thanks to the now-ennobled work of Peter W. Higgs and François Englert.
By symbolism, many institutions would probably have waited for the date of this anniversary to restart the machine. But at CERN it’s not about staying there; every minute of experimentation with LHC is invaluable, and so observations begin again with renewed vigor for a period of four years.
So let’s give you an appointment on this date to take stock of this third round of experimentation … unless a sensational new discovery hits the headlines in the meantime. The standard model of particle physics must be careful!