November 23, 2009

CERN Making Strong Progress On LHC Repairs

Scientists working on the world's biggest accelerator have restarted an experiment to recreate "Big Bang" conditions in an effort to better understand the origins of the universe, Reuters reported.

The underground Large Hadron Collider is machine that scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) have established to circulate particle beams in both directions.

CERN spokesman James Gillies said the researchers are already beyond where the experiment stalled during a first attempt in September 2008.

The first high-profile experiment failed just nine days after it was launched due to a technical problem that took longer than expected to repair.

But CERN's Director for Accelerators, Steve Myers, said they are now further advanced they were after five days of experiment last year.

The extra year had allowed researchers to upgrade instrumentations and computer software.

Engineers at the site have increased the sensitivity of the protections at the $9.82 billion collider under the French-Swiss border.

"If anything happens, we would not have the same amount of damage we had last year," he said.

Researchers at CERN, a 55-year-old organization that counts 10,000 scientists and technicians worldwide working on its research projects, have vigorously denied any suggestion that the ground-breaking experiment would cause the world to end.

"Getting the experiment re-started has been an herculean effort. We've still got some way to go before physics can begin, but with this milestone we're well on the way," said CERN's Director General Rolf Heuer.

As progress on the LHC moves forward, scientists may be able to accelerate particles at the highest energy level ever tested before Christmas.

Although, Myers said the high-energy collisions that may shed light on the secrets of the universe would only happen in the new year.

However, they have tentatively set a January 2010 date for when the particle beams will be smashed at high energy levels.

CERN said the next important step in the experiment would be low-energy collisions, which should happen in about a week from now.

One of CERN's ultimate goals is to find a theorized component called the Higgs Boson, which would explain how particles acquire mass. The Higgs has been dubbed the "God particle" and it is believed to be ubiquitous, yet also frustratingly elusive until now.

"The first three days have been in my opinion an enormous success, we've shown that the LHC machine is in superb condition from the beam quality viewpoint," said Myers.


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