Researchers get ready to fire up LHC after 2 year break; hope to find new particles

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World’s largest atom smasher the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is being prepped for its second three-year run in search of answers to unsolved questions and scientists are hoping to find new particles that could pave way for advanced research in dark matter along with proofs for its existence.

After a major upgrade that took nearly two years, the LHC is now twice as powerful and is ready to unravel more mysteries. LHC will be starting at a beam energy that is substantially higher, with the goal of better understanding why nature prefers matter to antimatter.

According to CERN: “When the LHC restarts this year, the energy of particle collisions will be 13 TeV (or 6.5 TeV per beam) compared to 8 TeV (4 TeV per beam) in 2012. This higher energy will allow physicists to extend their searches for new particles and to check previously untestable theories.”

A new discovery “could be as early as this year… if we are really lucky,” said Beate Heinemann, professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and a member of the ATLAS research team at LHC, during a talk on Saturday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting.

“Maybe we will find now supersymmetric matter,” she added. “For me it is more exciting than the Higgs.” Supersymmetry is an extension of the standard model of physics that aims to fill in some big gaps regarding how scientists understand matter.

Supersymmetry theory pegs all particles as having a counterpart that is heavier, and experts believe that if these partner particles are there, the LHC should be able to find them.

Since the standard model of physics cannot explain the existence of dark matter, which is thought to hold galaxies together and account for most of the matter in the universe, supersymmetry aims to offer “a more comprehensive picture of our world,” according to the CERN website.

The process of restarting LHC has already begun with the first step initiated on December 9. The process is expected to take a few months and CERN is expecting to get the atom smasher up and running completely by March.