CERN Scientists To Ramp Up LHC Output
CERN physicists working at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva, Switzerland are to increase the machine’s energy output to embark on a last-ditch journey to find the elusive Higgs boson, a theoretical “God particle” that could change physics as we know it.
Scientists say the 14 percent boost in the proton beams’ energies should improve the collider’s chances of finding “new physics” and definitively confirming or denying the existence of the Higgs boson.
CERN will run the particle accelerator at the increased speeds until November, which accounts for a total output of 8 trillion electron volts, before shutting down for 20 months to ramp up for even higher output, nearly double the current output.
LHC scientists hope to reach a record energy output of 14 trillion electron volts in 2014-2015 when the enormous 16.75-mile-long underground particle collider becomes operational again after the long shutdown.
“When we started operating the LHC for physics in 2010, we chose the lowest safe beam energy consistent with the physics we wanted to do,” CERN’s Director for Accelerators and Technology, Steve Myers, told BBC News. “Two good years of operational experience with beam and many additional measurements made during 2011 give us the confidence to safely move up a notch, and thereby extend the physics reach of the experiments before we go into the LHC’s first long shutdown.”
“By the time the LHC goes into its first long stop at the end of this year, we will either know that a Higgs particle exists or have ruled out the existence of a Standard Model Higgs,” added CERN’s Research Director, Sergio Bertolucci. “Either would be a major advance in our exploration of nature, bringing us closer to understanding how the fundamental particles acquire their mass, and marking the beginning of a new chapter in particle physics.”
Teams working at the LHC’s two major detectors made announcements in December 2011 that they had seen hints of the Higgs boson but stopped short of claiming they had seen it with certainty.
Their papers were submitted to academic journals last week for review by the scientific community.
Scientists say that the 14 percent increase in the LHC energy output should lead to a three-fold increase in the amount of data it produces compared to 2011. That data could be the tell all whether the Standard Model Higgs particle exists or not.
The scheduled increase starts next month and will run through November.
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