2015 could be the biggest year yet for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Researchers are gearing up to turn on the world’s largest particle collider in March.
It’s been about two years since the LHC has been online. Researchers have been busy upgrading the collider as they look for additional ‘God’ particles and matter. 2012 was a highlight for the LHC with the discovery of the Higgs boson. 2015 could be even bigger. Discoveries of more God particles, dark matter and even extra dimensions of reality could be on tap in the new year.
How? The LHC will have twice as much power when it comes online in March than it did back in 2010-2013. This increase in energy “will have a huge impact on the search for new particles at LHC,” says particle physicist Gabriella Sciolla.
The more energy you have, the heavier the particle the LHC could produce according to Sciolla.
For those of you who don’t know too much about the Large Hadron Collider, here’s a few facts.
Largest Particle Collider in the World
The Large Hadron Collider lives up to its name. Located near Geneva, Switzerland, the LHC has a ring that is 27 kilometers (16.5 miles) in circumference. The LHC weighs in at more than 38,000 tonnes and sits 100 meters below the ground.
Workers use bikes to get around the massive 16.5 mile ring.
Thousands of magnets push particles at 11,000 circuits per second (travelling around the 16.5 mile ring 11,000 times). Some of these magnets weigh 35 tons and stretch 15 meters (50 feet) long.
Particles are launched in two beams around the LHC. The magnets speed these particles to incredible speeds before some of them smash into each other.
The LHC’s massive magnets are replaced using a pulley system.
While the speeds are extreme, so are the temperatures. Researchers use liquid helium to keep the magnets chilly at more than -450 degrees fahrenheit. That’s colder than outer space.
Past Discoveries and the Future
The LHC’s biggest discovery so far has been the elusive Higgs boson. The Higgs boson, also referred to as the ‘God particle’ is believed to be a fundamental building block of the universe. Scientists believe the Higgs boson is the particle responsible for all matter having mass.
What does the future hold? With double the power, scientists are optimistic more discoveries are right around the corner. Will we finally find dark matter? That’s what scientists are hoping for when the LHC gets started again in March.
Image credits: CERN
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