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CERN gets set for LHC restart

An engineer working on the CMS detector at CERN

Taking it lying down: an engineer working on the CMS detector at CERN.

By Michael Bishop in CERN, Geneva

As CERN ramps up its preparations for “Run 2″ of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the start of 2015, many are wondering where the next big discovery will come from and whether it will emulate the success, and popularity, of the discovery of the Higgs boson in 2012.

There appears to be no hangover from that landmark event and a genuine excitement among the scientists at CERN, which I witnessed first-hand earlier this week during a two-day tour of CERN’s facilities organized by the UK’s Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

Many of the UK-based scientists that I spoke to during the tour showed a remarkable enthusiasm for the experiments they were working on and confessed to expecting similar, if not bigger, discoveries when the particle collider starts smashing protons together at higher energies.

Engineers were busy at work on CERN’s four main experiments – LHCb, CMS, ATLAS and ALICE – that we were shown during the tour, as well in the 27 km-long tunnel, where workers zipped by on bicycles, carrying their tools in a trailer behind them, to upgrade specific parts of the beamline.

A pair of bicycles hung up in the tunnel next to the LHCb detector

A pair of bicycles hung up in the tunnel next to the LHCb detector

To see an engineer casually lying down in the centre of the 12,500-tonne CMS detector, where particles usually collide at almost the speed of light, was a very surreal experience, and gave a good indication of the sheer size and complexity of the instrument.

During a brief talk, John Ellis, who is Clerk Maxwell Professor of Theoretical Physics at Kings College London, highlighted the desire to find out more about the Higgs boson when the LHC restarts, as well going beyond the Standard Model to find new particles and also provide the first direct evidence of supersymmetry – a theory with which he has become synonymous.

He cautioned, however, that if no evidence of supersymmetry is found by the LHC before the end of 2015, then theorists may have to ditch the idea and start postulating once more.

Whether the next big discovery comes from one of the four main detectors, or indeed from the multitude of new experiments that will be up running when the LHC is switched back on, one thing is certain: the world will be watching and listening intently.

• For more on the discovery of the Higgs boson, check out recent Physics World features by Michael Riordan and Tommaso Dorigo.

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  1. M. Asghar

    When the LHC restarts in 2015, the first thing to do will be to reach at least the 13 TeV energy aimed at as soon as possible and sharpen the Higgs properties by studying the other low cross section channels and look for anything else that would help to go beyond the rocky SM.

  2. JohnDuffield

    At last John Ellis is admitting what we’ve all known for years. See Reality check at the LHC. For myself I think the work required is within the standard model, not beyond the standard model. People in HEP don’t understand electron mass or have a clear model of what the electron is. Until they do they’re on a hiding to nothing proposing a selectron.

    • M. Asghar

      As far as one knows, the electron is a structureless elementary particle and the Higgs field with its Higgs boson which is a part of particles SM, has to fix and produce its mass via the appropriate coupling.

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