World's Largest Atom Smasher Wakes Up After Two Years

What physicists can learn from the Large Hadron Collider.

ByAlyssa Newcomb
April 06, 2015, 10:23 AM

— -- The world's most powerful atom smasher that has provided insight into the beginnings of the universe is ready to get back to work.

The Large Hadron Collider revved back to life over the weekend in Switzerland after two years of maintenance, according to a statement from the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).

"After two years of effort, the LHC is in great shape," CERN Director Frédérick Bordry said in a statement. "But the most important step is still to come when we increase the energy of the beams to new record levels."

Located in Geneva, Switzerland, the complex machine came back to life on Sunday as a proton beam zipped through the nearly 17-mile-long ring deep underground. A second beam circulated in the opposite direction, according to CERN.

PHOTO: A May 31, 2007 file photo shows the the LHC (large hadron collider) in its tunnel at CERN
A May 31, 2007 file photo shows the the LHC (large hadron collider) in its tunnel at CERN near Geneva, Switzerland.
Martial Trezzini/Keystone/AP Photo

In the coming days, the energy in the atom smasher is expected to be nearly double that of its first run, allowing researchers to conduct new experiments that could lead to a better understanding of dark matter, the invisible matter that does not interact with the electromagnetic force of the universe.

The Large Hadron Collider had previous success in 2012, solving one of the universe's mysteries when the machine discovered experimental evidence for the Higgs boson particle. Nicknamed the "God particle" by some, it is believed to explain how other particles get their mass.

The finding earned Peter Higgs and Francois Englert the 2013 Nobel Prize in physics.

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