The Large Hadron Collider is set to go back online in 2015, as researchers begin to use it to discover the secrets held by the universe and how it formed. Undergoing two years of upgrades after it officially discovered the Higgs boson particle, a theoretical subatomic particle known to give atoms their mass, the Large Hadron Collider is ready for action again and scientists hope to build on what has already been a successful first round.
The LHC is the world's most powerful atom smasher, stretching 16 miles in circumference. Buried underground in Geneva, Switzerland, the collider uses 9,600 magnets to accelerate particles to close to the speed of light. The largest of these magnets weights 35 tons and is approximately 50 feet long and can generate a magnetic field that is 100,000 times more power than that of the Earth.
These huge magnets generate quite a bit of heat and need to be cooled to -271.3 degrees Celsius. Because of this, the LHC is also the world's largest refrigerator, working to provide the proper cooling for the magnets during its experiments.
In 2012, the LHC helped scientists discover proof of the Higgs boson, otherwise known as the "God particle," which is responsible for helping protons and electrons have mass.
The new LHC will be bigger and better in 2015, with nearly twice the power compared to what it had between 2010 and 2013. By doubling the energy, scientists can produce heavier particles that could help them discover what particles make up dark matter, which takes up about 86% of the mass of the known universe yet cannot be observed directly because it interacts with gravitational fields instead of light.
While the Large Hadron Collider doesn't allow scientists to observe dark matter directly, it gives them the best view possible of what is happening. By colliding protons together, they can observe the energy it produces. Any energy that is missing from the aftermath could provide the clues scientists about dark matter and how dark matter particles are created.
In addition to dark matter, scientists hope to explore the existence of more types of Higgs boson particles. According to one scientist in the report, there could be other Higgs bosons that could have different masses and charges. How they interact with other particles could provide greater insight into dark matter.
The standard model of particle physics cannot explain dark matter, and scientists hope these new experiments utilizing the Large Hadron Collider will help them come to a new understanding of physics that goes beyond the standard model.