The Large Hadron Collider resumed its full activity

The ATLAS catching the particle
The ATLAS catching the particle “splashes” when one of the first beams passed through the Large Hadron Collider (Image courtesy CERN. All rights reserved)

This Easter represented for CERN the time of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) full operation restart. After the testing that began a few weeks ago, in the last Sunday morning a proton beam has covered all 27 kilometers (about 17.8 miles) of the giant ring. After less than two hours, a second beam was sent in the opposite direction. The energy was “only” 450 GeV but it was a major event for the restart of the scientific activity.

The end of the long and complex operations of restarting the LHC had a small delay due to a short circuit detected during the tests at the end of March. It’s an equipment, or rather a set of equipment, of enormous size and complexity. Precisely for this reason, their tests and their tune up takes time and care.

In the case of the short circuit detected at the end of March, the problem was located quickly. Probably, during the update operations of a piece of equipment, a small fragment of metal ended up in a tube causing a contact between it and a cable with a consequent intermittent short circuit.

After assessing the possible solutions, the team working on the LHC decided to melt the metal fragment. To do this, a current of almost 400 amperes was injected in the circuit for a few milliseconds. Subsequently, new tests were performed and no other short circuit was detected. As a result, a week ago the work for the complete restart of the LHC resumed.

The restart of full activity doesn’t mean it will immediately reach the energy of 13 TeV in the proton-to-proton collisions scheduled for this second season of operations. The energy will be increased gradually over the next few weeks and if all goes well the maximum level will be reached before the start of summer.

With the energy that will reach levels twice as high as those of the first season of operation it will be possible to proceed with the new scientific research. New investigations will also be carried out on the Higgs boson, so far the biggest discovery made using the LHC.

New research will be also carried out on other exotic particles, dark matter, antimatter, the quark-gluon plarma that existed in the very first instants of life of the universe, and more. The purpose is to test the current theories in the field of particle physics. It’s impossible to say when new discoveries will be made because those are very complex research and the data analysis is very long. Certainly in the next few years physics will make a new leap forward.

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