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World's biggest particle smasher starts unprecedented tests

Staff writer |
The world's biggest particle smasher was set Wednesday to start unprecedented experiments after a two-year upgrade to crank up energy levels to enable it to hopefully unlock more mysteries of the universe.

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The highest-energy collisions ever seen at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) are now producing data for science.

Teams at CERN, Europe's particle-physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, have spent two years upgrading what was already the world’s most powerful particle accelerator. At 10.40 local time on June 3 they officially set the newly supercharged collider running.

Physicists can now smash together bunches of protons at a record energy of 13 teraelectronvolts (TeV) and will soon collide a billion pairs of protons per second—almost double the previous rate. The machine was switched off on 14 February 2013 after an initial period—dubbed run 1—marked by the discovery of the Higgs boson.

The first beams of protons following the shutdown circled around the 27-kilometer ring in early April, but at low energies. Since then, physicists have worked to check mechanisms designed to protect the machine and to calibrate the beams, before increasing the LHC's energy and bringing its four main experiments fully online.

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