The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is on the verge of restarting for its second 3-year run that will see it double its collisional energy and dramatically step-up the search for new physics, hopefully solving some of the most perplexing mysteries in modern physics along the way.
ANALYSIS: LHC's ‘Heart' Starts Pumping Protons Before Restart
When starting up the world's largest particle accelerator, it's not just a simple case of flicking the "on" switch, however. As the most complex machine ever constructed by humankind, the LHC, which is managed by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and located near Geneva, Switzerland, takes months to power up each component of the complex chain of superconducting magnets and massive detectors.
Announced by CERN on Friday, the LHC's main 17 mile (27 kilometer) long ring of superconducting magnets have been cooled close to "its nominal operating temperature of 1.9 degrees above absolute zero." 1.9 degrees Kelvin is -271.25 degrees Celsius or -456.25 degrees Fahrenheit.
VIDEO: LHC Collides At Record Speeds
After a 2 year pause in collisions in the LHC for maintenance and upgrades, the accelerator is on track to be powered up again in March 2015 to begin a new era of ultra-high energy particle collisions by the following May. The goal for 2015 is to push for proton-proton collision energies of up to 13 TeV - nearly double the energy of the first LHC run.
"With this new energy level, the LHC will open new horizons for physics and for future discoveries," said CERN Director-General Rolf Heuer. "I'm looking forward to seeing what nature has in store for us."
"After the huge amount of work done over the last two years, the LHC is almost like a new machine," said CERN's Director for Accelerators and Technology Frédérick Bordry. "Restarting this extraordinary accelerator is far from routine. Nevertheless, I'm confident that we will be on schedule to provide collisions to the LHC experiments by May 2015."
Top 5 Misconceptions About The LHC
On the long list of physics breakthroughs scientists hope to achieve, a glimpse of dark matter particles, understanding antimatter interactions, seeking out signs of extra dimensions and identifying possible signs of supersymmetry rank highly.
But as with any physics experiments that push into the extremes of nature, possibly the most exciting breakthroughs will be the discoveries of exotic particles that we never knew existed - a very real possibility as we explore a whole new collision energy regime, the most powerful energies ever achieved by a particle accelerator on Earth.
So, in short, brace yourselves, we're about to voyage into uncharted physics territory -- and that's something to be very excited about.