Cern’s Large Hadron Collider has spent two years undergoing massive renovations and upgrades and is beginning its hunt for dark matter. Delays due to electromagnets short circuiting have held the process up slightly but it has been stated that these issues are not expected to affect the data.
The Collider at Cern in Geneva was originally turned on in 2008 and was used to fire proton beams at one another at almost the speed of light. This broke the protons into their smallest constituents and scientists used this incredible machine to confirm the presence of the Higgs Boson in our universe.
On Easter Sunday the first proton beam was again circulating around the Cern’s 27Km ring and was initiated at 10.41am. at 12.27pm a second beam began to circulate in the opposite direction. For the moment they are rotating slowly but scientists plan to monitor and speed up the process over time to achieve harder and faster collisions than were ever possible before the upgrades, and are hoping to begin collecting collision data in May 2015.
The beginning of these collisions are now in place, and the energy level of the beams being upgraded could show new and completely unknown phenomena that occur in our universe. The focus of the collider is to investigate the presence of dark matter. According to theorists, dark matter makes up 84% of our universe and by studying a theory called ‘super-symmetry’ they may be able prove the existence of this previously unproven particle.
Scientists working at Cern are not just hoping to find dark matter. They are hoping tofirst reanalyse the Higgs Boson discovered in the last collision data. With the upgrade, the Large Hadron Collider has the ability to project proton beams at 13 tera-electron volts which is a vast improvement compared to the original maximum energy of just 8 Tev. They believe that at this high an energy, the debris from collisions will occur more often and more particles will be emitted so they can further study the higgs-boson and potentiallydiscover a worldof higgs related particles thatcould help answer the questions on dark matter.
The theory of super-symmetry speculates that for each elementary particle there is a much heavier counterpart, and that also in our universe exists super-particles known as neutrinos. The theory currently states that these are highly stable particles and this is what comprises dark matter.
While still in its earliest days for the new results, scientists are not expecting anything to happen instantly, it took years to discover the Higgs Boson and it could take years more to find dark matter, if it even exists. What we do know is that while Cern’s Large Hadron Collider costs over 6 billion euros to construct it has definitely opened our minds to what the universe really is and what it is capable of.
A live blog of Cern’s activities is available at: http://run2firstbeam.web.cern.ch/