'Big Bang' collider gets second chance in November

In this January file photo, the CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) detector at the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, undergoes winter maintenance work.

The biggest and most complex machine ever made may come back to life in November, but not at full strength.

Europe's Large Hadron Collider was supposed to reveal secrets about the origin of the universe. But just days after the 17-mile ring of underground, super-cooled magnets booted up last year, the operation was suspended so scientists could fix tiny malfunctions in its massive particle racetrack.

Soon, public debate shifted from "will the Large Hadron Collider destroy the Earth?" to "will the $9 billion contraption ever work?" Here comes round two.

LHC's keepers announced this week that the machine will be revived this winter, but energy concerns will limit its abilities for the time being.

This is big news, reports the NYTimes, "but, scientists say it could be years, if ever, before the collider runs at full strength, stretching out the time it should take to achieve the collider’s main goals, like producing a particle known as the Higgs boson thought to be responsible for imbuing other elementary particles with mass, or identifying the dark matter that astronomers say makes up 25 percent of the cosmos. The energy shortfall could also limit the collider’s ability to test more exotic ideas, like the existence of extra dimensions beyond the three of space and one of time that characterize life."

CERN, which runs the collider, spent today trying to build support for this second push. "The LHC is a much better understood machine than it was a year ago," CERN's director told ABC. "We can look forward with confidence and excitement to a good run through the winter and into next year."


Follow us on Twitter, @CSMHorizonsBlog.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.