The world's biggest particle collider, located near Geneva,
has been undergoing a two-year refit and work is now "in full
swing" to start circulating proton beams again in March, with
the first collisions due by May, the European Organization for
Nuclear Research (CERN) said on Friday.
"With this new energy level, the (collider) will open new
horizons for physics and for future discoveries," CERN Director
General Rolf Heuer said in a statement. "Iím looking forward to
seeing what nature has in store for us."
CERN's collider is buried in a 27-km (17-mile) tunnel straddling
the Franco-Swiss border at the foot of the Jura mountains. The
entire machine is already almost cooled to 1.9 degrees above
absolute zero in preparation for the next three-year run.
The first run, carried out at lower power, led in 2012 to
confirmation of the existence of the Higgs boson particle, which
explains how fundamental matter took on the mass to form stars
That discovery was a landmark in physics but there are still
plenty of other mysteries to be unraveled, including the nature
of "dark matter" and "dark energy".
Latest calculations suggest that dark matter accounts for 27
percent of the universe and dark energy, which drives galaxies
apart, 68 percent, while the visible matter observed in
galaxies, stars and planets makes up just 5 percent.
Other unsolved questions include the relative lack of antimatter
in the universe, when equal amounts of matter and antimatter
were created in the Big Bang 13.8 billion years ago, and the
possible existence of other new kinds of particles.
Many physicists favor a yet-to-be-proven theory known as
super-symmetry, in which all basic particles have a heavier but
invisible "super" partner.
Getting to grips with such issues requires deeper insights into
the building blocks of the cosmos, which researchers hope to
achieve by turning up the dial at CERN to higher energies.
"We have unfinished business with understanding the universe,"
said Tara Shears, a physics professor at the University of
Liverpool, who works on one of the four main experiments at the
(Editing by Mark Heinrich)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.