The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) is expected to restart the world’s largest particle collider this September, it said in a press release.
CERN management approved on Monday a draft schedule for restarting the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in 2009.
“The new schedule foresees first beams in the LHC at the end of September this year, with collisions following in late October. A short technical stop has also been foreseen over the Christmas period,” CERN said in a press release. “The LHC will then run through to autumn next year, ensuring that the experiments have adequate data to carry out their first new physics analyses and have results to announce in 2010.”
The new schedule also includes possible collisions of lead ions in 2010.
“The schedule we have now is without a doubt the best for the LHC and for the physicists waiting for data,” said CERN Director General Rolf Heuer. “It is cautious, ensuring that all the necessary work is done on the LHC before we start up, yet it allows physics research to begin this year.”
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Last September, amid much hype, scientists fired the first beam of protons round the vast underground circular device, which is run from a control room in a suburb of Geneva on the French-Swiss border. Two weeks later it was shut down due to a helium leak into the tunnel housing the device.
The collider, located 100 meters underground with a circumference of 27 km, enables scientists to shoot sub-atomic particles round an accelerator ring at almost the speed of light, guided by a powerful field produced by superconductor magnets.
Particles are sent round the ring in extreme vacuum cooled by liquid helium to minus 271 degrees C.
By colliding particles in front of immensely powerful detectors, scientists hope to detect the Higgs boson, nicknamed the “God particle,” which was hypothesized in the 1960s to explain how particles acquire mass. Discovering the particle could explain how matter appeared in the split-second after the Big Bang.
The international LHC project has involved more than 2,000 physicists from hundreds of universities and laboratories in 34 countries since 1984. Over 700 Russian physicists from 12 research institutes have taken part.