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Atom-smasher restart a 'success': scientists

By next year, the LHC should be ramped up to 3.5 teraelectronvolts, reaching "close to 5" teraelectronvolts in the second half of next year, said Myers.
Tue Nov 24 02:23:30 EST 2009
Mon Nov 23 15:23:30 UTC 2009

GENEVA, Nov 23 AFP - Scientists on Monday hailed the restart of the the Large Hadron Collider as an "enormous success" as two beams began circulating simultaneously in the world's biggest atom-smasher.

"The first three days have been in my opinion an enormous success, we've shown that the LHC machine is in superb condition from the beam quality viewpoint," said Steve Myers, director of accelerators and technology at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN).

"The breaking news is that we have two beams circulating simultaneously in the LHC, that just happened three-quarters of an hour ago," he added during a press briefing.

The Large Hadron Collider, built in a 27km tunnel straddling the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva, was started with great fanfare in September 2008, but was shut down nine days later due to technical faults.

A failure in an electrical connection had led to serious damage, leaving scientists to spend 14 months repairing the device.

On Friday, scientists injected the first sub-atomic particles back into the collider and managed to get the particle beams circulating in the accelerator once again.

With two beams now circulating at the same time, the machine is poised for its first collisions.

Expected to occur over the next 10 to 15 years during which the LHC will operate, such collisions would generate masses of data that could unlock mysteries about the creation of the universe and the fundamental nature of matter.

CERN scientists said they are aiming to get the LHC running at an energy equivalent of 1.2 teraelectronvolt by year end.

This would already surpass the one teraelectronvolt maximum output of what is currently the largest functioning collider in the world, at the Fermilab near Chicago in the United States.

"Already with 3.5 tev, we can open new windows into physics. That can already happen next year," said CERN director-general Rolf-Dieter Heuer.

At the same time, Heuer would not predict how soon new data could be generated from the LHC, stressing that "it depends on how kind nature is to us".

The LHC at CERN took nearly 20 years to complete at a cost of six billion Swiss francs E3.9 billion ($A6.34 billion).

The massive experiment aims to resolve some of the greatest enigmas in physics such as an explanation for "dark matter" and "dark energy" that account for 96 per cent of the cosmos and whether other dimensions exist parallel to our own.

The Holy Grail will be finding a theorised component called the Higgs Boson, which would explain how particles acquire mass. Believed to be ubiquitous -- yet also frustratingly elusive until now -- the Higgs has been dubbed the "God particle".