CERN expects new particle discovery as two-year shutdown nears end

16 Feb 2015

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A welder works on interconnections between dipole magnets on the Large Hadron Collider. Image via CERN

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CERN and its Large Hadron Collider (LHC) will soon begin booting up again for the first time in two years following its upgrade and the organisation is expecting a new particle discovery by the end of the year.

Since 13 February 2013, the LHC has been undergoing repairs and, more importantly, considerable strengthening with hundreds of engineers working on the vast particle accelerator that spans two countries with a circumference of 27km.

According to Switzerland-based CERN, this upgrade saw the replacement – due to wear and tear – of 18 of the LHC’s 1,232 superconducting dipole magnets, which steer particle beams around the accelerator. More than 10,000 electrical interconnections between dipole magnets were also fitted with splices to prevent them shorting due to the huge amounts of energy generated.

Now, thanks to this strengthening, CERN will be able to increase the accelerator’s energy from 8TeVs (transient Earth voltage) to 12TeVs, which will allow scientists to examine more particles than would have been possible before.

LHC-welder-2

A welder uses a custom-made orbital welding tool to seal an interconnection between dipole magnets on the LHC. Image via Maximilien Brice/CERN

Discovering the ‘gluino’

CERN’s IT department has also been busy preparing for the huge amounts of data that will be produced as a result of its increased power with the installation of 60,000 new cores and more than 100PB (petabytes) of storage space.

With the LHC due to begin operation again in March, many of the scientists at CERN have their hopes pinned on discovering a particle dubbed the ‘gluino’, which is known as a supersymmetric particle that could give further clues about the existence of dark matter.

Speaking of its potential discovery, lead of the ATLAS experiment using the LHC, Prof Beate Heinemann, said its discovery could be sooner rather than later.

“It could be as early as this year. Summer may be a bit hard but late summer maybe, if we’re really lucky.

“We hope that we’re just now at this threshold that we’re finding another world, like antimatter for instance. We found antimatter in the beginning of the last century. Maybe we’ll find now supersymmetric matter.”

Colm Gorey is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

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