CERN Collider Refitting Begins While Unexplored Worlds Wait

The CERN Collider is undergoing a refitting, putting the Large Hadron Collider out of commission for two years. The collider is only five years old, but the two year revamp is aimed at doubling its power.

CERN scientist Marc Goulette made it clear that he sees cosmic significance in the LHC’s refitting. He explained, “When this refit is complete, we shall be ready to explore an entirely new realm of physics.

Some scientists predict that the CERN Collider refit will help identify the strange dark matter that covers the majority of the universe.

For others, the hope lies in a potential zoo of new particles. They also hope to catch a hint that space has more than three dimensions.

Experimental physicists and theorists at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research housed on a sprawling campus near Geneva, hope to make more findings as soon as the LHC is back in commission.

Hundreds of engineers and technicians are working on the CERN collider, a 17-mile subterranean complex of machinery and cables. It will be able to double its power and reach into the microscopic world of elementary particles by the year 2015.

The task is definitely giant, according to senior CERN engineer Simon Baird. Baird explained, “Every connection must be checked and reinforced during this shutdown.”

A helium leak and explosion in the tunnel took the LHC out of commission for two years — just 10 days after it was first fired up.

But despite the initial setback in 2008, the CERN Large Hadron Collider is responsible for discovering the Higgs boson — a long-sought elementary particle. And with the LHC’s power doubled, the scientists will be able to further analyze the particle and more like it.

While the CERN Collider gets an upgrade, scientists wonder what they will discover next. James Wells, a US professor and theoretician, who has worked at CERN for two years, hopes for more exotic versions of the Higgs.

[Image via Juhanson]