Science

LHC Revs Up to Go Where No Collider Has Gone Before

The Large Hadron Collider, a particle-smasher in Europe, is revving up to achieve its first stable collisions of protons today at the highest energy ever. The European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN), which manages the LHC, has a live webcast going (embedded above).

The LHC started operations in late 2008 before shutting down for upgrades in early 2013. When it reopened in 2015, it boasted of better safety systems and upgraded particle detection and analysis kits, and, most of all, a collision energy of 13 TeV. You produce much more than this amount of energy when you clap your hands once, but when you squeeze all of it into a particle the size of a proton, the energy density is tremendous.

The LHC accelerates protons to such high energies and collides trains of them head on. CERN has a video to help visualize the journey of the protons

When they collide, the result is an energy-environment almost completely similar to what was achieved right after the Big Bang, which is thought to have birthed the universe 13.8 billion years ago.

Before the shutdown, the LHC operated at a collision energy of 7-8 TeV, and using which it was able to aid the discovery of the Higgs boson, a long sought-after elementary particle that fetched two of its conceivers the Nobel prize for physics in 2013. At almost double the collision energy, now, the LHC is set to go after the mysterious particle that makes up dark matter.

Through the live webcast above, follow the LHC as it readies to test its first stable beams of protons that will collide at 13 TeV and hopefully expose one more patch of nature that will tell us something about why the universe is the way it is. To know more about the LHC itself, explained by scientists who work on the experiment, read this.