CERN ramps up LHC energy for Higgs boson search

CERN ramps up LHC energy for Higgs boson search

Summary: The Large Hadron Collider will smash particles into each other at an intensity of 4 TeV, allowing scientists to definitively say whether the Higgs boson exists by November, according to CERN

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The search for the elusive Higgs boson is to be turned up a notch, with more energy poured into the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

Large Hadron Collider at CERN

The Large Hadron Collider will smash particles into each other at an intensity of 4TeV, allowing scientists to definitively say whether the Higgs boson exists by November, according to CERN. Photo credit: Claudia Marcelloni/Cern

CERN scientists will be able to say whether or not the Higgs boson exists by November, after scientists crank up the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) to smash streams of particles together at an intensity of four tera electronvolts (TeV) per beam, CERN head of communications James Gillies told ZDNet UK on Monday.

"One of the reasons [to increase beam intensity] is, if Higgs exists, we'll get data more quickly at 4 TeV," Gillies said. "It will also increase sensitivity to supersymmetry."

The Higgs boson is a hypothetical elementary particle, postulated to help explain mass under a set of theories known as the Standard Model of physics. Supersymmetry predicts a partner particle for every particle in the Standard Model. These particles could help deduce the mass of the Higgs boson.

CERN scientists will run the LHC at 4 TeV from March through to November "with no tweaks" to maximise the amount of data produced, said Gillies. CERN expects to collect three times as much data as last year, Gillies said, when the maximum collision energy was 3.5 TeV per beam of protons. CERN expects to collect 15 inverse femtobarns' worth of particle collision data. An inverse femtobarn is a standard unit of integrated luminosity, often used to describe the amount of data accumulated by a particle physics experiment.

"If we have that much data, we'll either exclude the whole Higgs range, or have enough data to show something's there," said Gillies.

The LHC has not had any particle beams running through it since early December as part of a planned shutdown. Scientists will resume firing beams through the LHC in March, and run through to November, when there will be a further shutdown for 20 months. CERN plans to restart the LHC at a beam intensity of 7 TeV in late 2014.

In 2011, CERN said it had narrowed the mass range in which Higgs might exist to between 124 and 126 giga electronvolts (GeV).


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Topic: Emerging Tech

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com. He covers the security beat, writing about everything from hacking and cybercrime to threats and mitigation. He also focuses on open source and emerging technologies, all the while trying to cut through greenwash.

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