The world's most powerful proton smasher is about to get an upgrade.
The Large Hadron Collider (LHC), as it is called, is having some heavy duty engineering work done that will enable it to operate in a "high-luminosity mode" from 2026.
This will apparently increase the number of particle collisions that are possible inside, a move that is hoped will help scientists explore the fundamental building blocks of the universe.
The work is taking place at the LHC's two main sites in Switzerland and France, which are run by Europe's physics lab CERN, who refers to the upgrade as "a ground-breaking ceremony".
"CERN [is celebrating] the start of the civil-engineering work for the high-luminosity LHC: a new milestone in history," the group said.
"By 2026 this major upgrade will have considerably improved the performance of the LHC, by increasing the number of collisions in the large experiments and thus boosting the probability of the discovery of new physics phenomena."
The LHC has been colliding particles since 2010. It consists of a 27km ring where inside, bunches of protons travel and collide at almost the speed of light. These collisions generate new particles, giving physicists an unprecedented look at the most fundamental laws of physics in the hope of better understanding particles and matter.
While the LHC is able to produce up to one billion proton on proton collisions per second, the high-luminosity LHC will increase this number, referred to by physicists as "luminosity", by a factor of between five and seven. This will enable about 10 times more data to be accumulated between 2026 and 2036, CERN said, meaning physicists will be able to investigate rare phenomena and make more accurate measurements.
"The high-luminosity LHC will extend the LHC's reach beyond its initial mission, bringing new opportunities for discovery, measuring the properties of particles such as the Higgs Boson with greater precision, and exploring the fundamental constituents of the universe ever more profoundly," said CERN Director-General, Fabiola Gianotti.
"It is also a window to the accelerators of the future and to new applications for society," concluded CERN's director for accelerators and technology, Frédérick Bordry.
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