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After Higgs breakthrough, CERN readies for next cosmic quest

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Posted August 1, 2013
A view of the detector in the 12,500-ton Compact Muon Solenoid experiment (CMS). Image courtesy of CERN

A view of the detector in the 12,500-ton Compact Muon Solenoid experiment (CMS). Image courtesy of CERN

A year ago, the world’s largest particle collider made one of the greatest discoveries in the history of science, identifying what is believed to be the Higgs Boson—the long-sought maker of mass.

Today, its computer screens are dark, the control desks unstaffed and the giant, supercooled tunnel empty of the crashing proton beams whose snapshots of the Big Bang helped flush out the elusive particle.

But the silence is an illusion.

Behind the scenes, work is pushing ahead to give the vast machine a mighty upgrade, enabling it to advance the frontiers of knowledge even farther.

The 27-kilometre (17-mile) circular lab, straddling the French-Swiss border 100 metres (325 feet) underground, went offline in February for an 18-month overhaul.

And when experiments resume in 2015, scientists at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) will use its enhanced power to probe dark matter, dark energy and supersymmetry—ideas considered as wild as the Higgs Boson was, half a century ago.

As engineers focus on the technical mission, physicists are sifting through the mountains of data that the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has churned out since 2010, for there could be more nuggets to find.

“The things that are easy to spot have already been exploited, and now we’re taking another look,” said Tiziano Camporesi of CERN, noting wryly that dealing with the unknown was, well, unknowable.

Read more at: Phys.org

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