The world's most complicated machine, one that deepened our understanding of matter and the universe. Then it was turned off. Now, it's been beefed up, remodeled and upgraded.
Since 2013, what's probably the world's most complex machine has been given a significant upgrade. And after the relaunch, it is scheduled to have a potential energy of 13 Terraelectron-Volts (TeV). So far its record energy generation was 8 TeV.
Initially, the engineers wanted to go as high as 14 TeV, but eventually decided to limit themselves - also to reduce the probability of technical defects and failures. "At 13 TeV, the facility will be much more reliable and stable," Andrey Golutvin says. The professor for particle physics is working on one of the four huge detectors, called LHCb. This detector is dedicated to the discovery of asymmetry between matter and antimatter.
A top scientist at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) says that the titanic machine may possibly create or discover previously unimagined scientific phenomena, or "unknown unknowns" - for instance "an extra dimension".
"Out of this door might come something, or we might send something through it," said Sergio Bertolucci, who is Director for Research and Scientific Computing at CERN, briefing reporters including the Reg at CERN HQ.
The LHC, built inside a 27-km circular subterranean tunnel deep beneath the Franco-Swiss border outside Geneva, functions like a sort of orbital motorway for extremely high-speed hadrons - typically either protons or lead ions.
The differences are, firstly, that the streams of particles are moving at velocities within a whisker of light speed - such that each stream has as much energy in it as a normal car going at 1000mph. Secondly, the beams are arranged in such fashion that the two streams swerve through one another occasionally, which naturally results in huge numbers of incredibly violent head-on collisions.
These collisions are sufficiently violent that they are expected to briefly create conditions similar to those obtaining countless aeons ago, not long after the Big Bang, when the entire universe was still inconceivably small - it was smaller than a proton for quite some time, seemingly, still with all the stuff that nowadays makes up all the supra-enormity of space and galaxies and so forth packed in somehow.
Naturally, some extremely strange phenomena are to be expected when one mangles the very fabric of space-time itself in this fashion. Various eccentric nut balls have claimed that this would doom humanity in one fashion or another; perhaps converting the entire Earth, everything on it and possibly the rest of the universe too into "strangelet soup", monopole mulligatawny or some other sort of frightful sub-particulate blancmange or custard.