Particle physics research

CERN launches phase 3 of LHC research after three years of maintenance

(Photo: Ronald Patrick/Getty Images)

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) officially detonated two proton beams on Friday April 22 at 12:16 p.m. CEST, according to its own press release, marking the first use of its Large Hadron Collider in nearly three years. The organization took a short break while its LHC, the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator, underwent extensive maintenance and various upgrades to prepare for its next iteration Run 3, the third run of the machine that will see it recording payloads of data for the next four years.

CERN noted that some life was observed in the LHC in October last year, citing a pilot beam circulation that did not last too long for major data collection. On the other hand, he expresses today’s experiment, which saw two proton beams circulating in the 27 km ring in opposite directions at 450 billion electron volts, as the next step in understanding still growing of the universe by CERN.

‘These beams were traveling at the injection energy and contained a relatively small number of protons,’ explains Dr Rhodri Jones, Head of CERN’s Beam Department. “The high-intensity, high-energy collisions are months away. But the first beams represent the accelerator’s successful restart after all the hard work of the long shutdown.”

The prolonged shutdown over the past few years has seen the LHC undergo “an extensive program of consolidation”, said Mike Lamont, director of accelerators and technology. The “Improvements to the Injector Complex” have been of major importance to the team, which will help the team gather even more necessary data.

Related article: CERN is developing a new instrument to track down dark matter

But increased physics data collection efforts won’t officially begin until summer 2022. In the meantime, CERN’s LHC will work tirelessly to secure its operational status and prepare it for experimental collisions at energies up to reaching 13.6 trillion electron volts, a registration number for the machine.

“We’re looking at very rare processes, so the higher the number of collisions, the greater the chance of actually finding what’s going on and seeing small anomalies,” Jones told the BBC. “The improved beam means that for all the physics we have done since the start of the LHC’s years of operation, we will be able to achieve the same number of collisions over the next three years as we have in these ten. years.”

For the CERN team, it’s about finding the holy grail of the world of physics, that is, the fifth force of nature – if, of course, there is one. Currently, the four that we know of so far are electromagnetism, gravity, and the two weak and strong nuclear forces. The aforementioned BBC article quotes Dr Sam Harper, CERN’s head of electrons and protons, in his giddy optimism when he says: “I’ve been looking for the fifth force since I was a particle physicist. the year.”

The team also hopes to uncover even more yet-undiscovered secrets about the universe, including the existence of dark matter, a supposed substance that makes up nearly all of the known cosmos. This should not be confused with Dark Energy, yet another conundrum in the realm of physics which, for now, is mainly theorized as a form of outward pushing power that theoretical physicists so far consider as the antithesis of dark matter.

It remains to be seen how far CERN and its LHC can test the limits or even completely break the current standard model of physics, but its continued efforts are certainly proving useful. LHC Phase 3 will also attempt to study the so-called Higgs boson, a decade-old particle discovery that hampers an as-yet-unknown concept called electroweak symmetry, which requires force-carrying particles to have no mass – a real enigma that CERN hopes to unravel in the next four years.

Read also : Large Hadron Collider discovers particles dating back to FIRST SECONDS of birth of universe

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