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CERN Moving Ahead Cautiously

February 10, 2011

Scientists at the CERN research center said on Wednesday that they would be moving ahead cautiously this year to avoid any possible breakdown in their Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

They said that if all goes well they would step up the energy of particle collisions that most feel is vital to bring them near to finding the most mythical Higgs boson and evidence for the existence of dark matter.

“We are pushing the limits,” physicist Marco Zanetti told a seminar for CERN staff attended by Reuters.

He said simulations of what could happen if there was a simple break in a joint in the machine like the incident that set back the LHC project in 2009 showed it could bring another 12-month delay.

However, Zanetti and other spreaders at the seminar made it clear that they saw little chance of this happening now the LHC has been functioning without a glitch since March 31 last year.

After a two-month winter shutdown, it is starting up again later this month.

CERN technology director Steve Myers told the seminar that the LHC team is still hoping to double the energy impact in 2014, after a year-long shutdown in 2013 for intensive upgrading.

At the higher collision energy of 14 TeV, compared to the current 7 TeV it is running, CERN expects to produce results that could shed light on the possible existence of parallel worlds or multiple universes.

LHC was suppose to have been shut down at the end of this year for 12 months, but the CERN council decided last month to keep going through 2012 because the machine was running smoothly, giving time for an early discovery.

Image Caption: Engineers working in the ATLAS experimental cavern during the LHC’s planned technical stop, January 2011. Photo: Claudia Marcelloni.

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