World's biggest atom smasher will soon smash atoms even harder, say scientists

The Large Hadron Collider, which in 2012 was used to uncover evidence for the elusive Higgs boson, is on track to resume operations next year at double its former energy level.

Anja Niedringhaus/AP/File
An event display shows the activity during a high-energy collision at the CMS control room of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, CERN, at their headquarter outside Geneva, Switzerland, in March 2010. The world's largest atom smasher is gearing up for its second three-year run after 16 months of maintenance and upgrades.

The world's largest atom smasher is gearing up for its second three-year run after 16 months of maintenance and upgrades.

The Large Hadron Collider, which was used to discover a long-theorized subatomic particle, is designed to push the proton beam close to the speed of light, whizzing 11,000 times a second around a 17-mile (27-kilometer) tunnel on the Swiss-French border near Geneva. The world's top particle physics lab known by its French acronym CERN said Monday that the $10 billion collider is being improved and is on track to resume early next year at double its former energy level.

Once it restarts, two beams will be fired again within the collider at the same time in opposite directions with the aim of recreating conditions a split second after the Big Bang, which scientists theorize was the massive explosion that created the universe. The next CERN experiments could reveal more about "dark matter," antimatter and possibly hidden dimensions of space and time.

"The machine is coming out of a long sleep after undergoing an important surgical operation," said Frederick Bordry, director for accelerators and technology at the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

During its first run, the particle accelerator was used to discover the subatomic particle known as the Higgs boson, without which particles would not hold together — and there would be no matter. The state-of-the-art accelerator — and teams of thousands of CERN-based scientists — helped Peter Higgs win the Nobel Prize last year by proving his theories right.

"It's effectively a new machine, poised to set us on the path to new discoveries," said CERN Director General Rolf Heuer.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.