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NEWS
Hadron Collider Restarts
December 4, 2009


The ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider housed at CERN near Geneva. ATLAS is a particle physics experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Starting in late 2009, the ATLAS detector will search for new discoveries in the head-on collisions of protons of extraordinarily high energy. Photo courtesy of CERN.

Particle beams are once again zooming around the world’s most powerful particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), at the CERN laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, where a team of University of Massachusetts Amherst physicists run experiments to collect data on fundamental atomic particles. The work could reveal new states of matter and unveil the secrets of dark matter.

A clockwise circulating beam was established in the LHC’s 17-mile-diameter ring on Nov. 20th, ending more than a year of repairs to the huge underground laboratory. It is now ready to begin creating high-energy particle collisions that may yield insights into the nature of the physical universe, scientists say. The accelerator is a tool used to study extremely small structures within an atom’s nucleus, as well as interactions between them.

The LHC circulated its first beams in September 2008, but suffered a serious malfunction nine days later. A failure in an electrical connection led to serious damage, and CERN has spent more than a year repairing and consolidating the machine to ensure that such an incident cannot happen again.

Over the next few months, scientists will create collisions between two beams of protons at the LHC. These first LHC collisions will take place at relatively low energy. Operators will then raise the beam energy, aiming for collisions at world-record high energy collision levels in early 2010. When these are achieved, the hunt for discoveries at the LHC will begin.

An estimated 10,000 people from 60 countries have helped design and build the LHC accelerator and its four massive particle detectors, including more than 1,700 scientists, engineers, students and technicians from 97 U.S. universities and laboratories in 32 states and Puerto Rico supported by the DOE Office of Science and the National Science Foundation.


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